Most houses will have fencing around the yard and the choice of fencing is important. There are a number of things to consider when choosing the right fence for your home.
How To Choose the Right Fence for Your Home?
The Purpose of the Fence
The material and style of the fence you choose will depend on the purpose. A wooden-split rail will not work for keeping children in and a chain-link fence will not work for privacy. If you need to only mark a boundary, you have many artistic options before you. Knowing the purpose of your fence will guide you to choosing the height, construction, and material best suited for the needs.
The Style of Your Home
The architecture of your home makes it easy to eliminate what type of fence to not use. Would you put a chain-link fence around a Victorian gingerbread mansion? Older homes with classic architecture look best with brick or ornamental metal fences, but a contemporary ranch home would suit a wood privacy fence. There should be a design connection between your home and the fence going around it.
The Material of the Fence
There are several materials to choose from for fencing.
- Wood Fence: This is a classic American style that is still popular today. Wooden fences can be built in any style, size or height, from the iconic white picket fence to the 7-foot privacy fence. A wood fence can have the lowest purchase and installation cost but does require continual maintenance such as painting every 2 years, and you need to budget for this. Wood is a green, sustainable material, and erecting and repairing them can be a DIY project
- Chain Link Fence: This style is essentially maintenance-free, and is sturdy and long-lasting. It’s affordable to buy and relatively easy to install, which makes it the popular choice, especially if you have a large ground to cover. It is also considered “green” because the material can be recycled. The downside to chain link is the utilitarian look, but you can fix that with vinyl-coated styles that come in basic colors, or by turning it into a lattice for plants to grow on.
- Vinyl Fence: This is also known as plastic fencing and it became popular because of its truly maintenance-free characteristic. It can be kept clean with a garden hose. Vinyl fencing is available in an endless array of styles and colors and can mimic most any other common fencing material. Vinyl is expensive, so if you have a large area to cover, consider mixing it with another material. There are some tricky aspects regarding installation so it is best handled by experienced installers. Because of its hollow construction, vinyl can break or crack under too much-applied pressure, so if you have dogs or kids playing in the yard, you may want to consider something stronger.
- Composite Fence: Another popular type of plastic fencing that is engineered from wood and can mimic the look of most any wood boards. Composite is as maintenance-free as vinyl but is much stronger than a hollow vinyl fence because of its interior wood post-construction. This also makes it more expensive than vinyl fences, and its installation needs to be handled by professionals.
One final type of fencing is ornamental metal fencing. This lends a distinguished, traditional look to your grounds, and can be worked into as many styles, sizes and heights as wood. Wrought iron or cast iron can last for hundreds of years, with rust being the only possible maintenance issue. It is also very strong and can be painted any color you wish (though that creates a maintenance issue). In most cases, it is cost-effective but if you go with a custom design it must be installed by experienced professionals. Aluminum or powder-coated galvanized steel fences do not have rust issues but they are currently available only in black or white, and understand that they work only as ornamentation, so look but don’t climb! Your fence will say a lot about your home and should match the style of your grounds. A fence is also a great way to employ some creativity so have some fun with it.
- Cost: When installing a fence, you will likely be paying for the materials plus labor. Common fence materials usually run as below:
- Wood: $5-$10 per square foot
- Chain Link: $10-$15 per square foot
- Vinyl: $20 per square foot
- Aluminum: $20-$30+ per square foot
- Wrought Iron: $20-$100 per square foot
Remember that while wood appears to be the cheapest, there will be ongoing costs to stain and paint the fence on a regular basis. This will add up.
- Maintenance: If you do not want to spend hours painting and staining your fence, wood is not the right choice for you. Go with any of the other types of fencing, all of which are basically maintenance-free.
- Safety: With wooden fences, you have the risk of paint chipping or splinters which can be a hazard to kids and pets. Chain link fences can also sometimes have sharp wires that stick out. Taller vinyl fences that are high enough to deter little climbers may be the best bet for safety.
- Privacy: Wood or vinyl fencing is more versatile when it comes to privacy as both can be constructed with few gaps. Chain link or aluminum fences offer little privacy unless vines or other greenery is used to fill in the gaps.
- Security: If your goal is to keep unwanted visitors out, going with a metal fence-like chain link or aluminum may be the best bet as they are the most durable and able to keep strangers out.