Home Tip Tuesday: Fencing Material Options

Consider the style, maintenance and cost when choosing a fence.

If the poet Robert Frost is correct and "good fences make good neighbors," choosing the right fencing material is a right neighborly thing to do! You may prefer the look or ease of a specific material, but there are several points to consider before making an investment. Do you have pets that dig or require an extra secure yard? Have you checked with local zoning or your homeowner's association to see if there are specific regulations you must adhere to? Do you live in a location with extreme weather or wind conditions? All these and more are issues to think about when selecting the best material. 

Component fencing typically refers to pre-assembled panels that are easy to assemble but may not follow the natural slopes of the landscape. Panels usually have to be stair-stepped to accommodate ground that is not level. Racking-matching the angle of fencing to the angles of the ground-is another way to do this. However, racking can only be done with single boards and rails, not pre-assembled panels. Component fencing comes in metal, wood or vinyl styles and is quick and convenient to assemble.

Wood is a traditional look that's long lasting and affordable. Another advantage to using wood as a building material is that it's easy to cut in any shape, size or height desired. It's also available pre-made in several attractive styles such as picket fencing and split-rail. Either in individual boards and rails or component panels, wood is great for the DIYer to work with, but it does require ongoing maintenance to stay in good shape. Expect to paint or stain a wood fence every three years or so, depending on conditions in your location.

Vinyl has become popular in recent years because it continues to looks clean and fresh with very little maintenance. Vinyl typically comes in pre-assembled panels that look much like painted wood and are available in different styles. Rail fencing provides the most privacy and security for pets while the shadowbox style won't completely block the view. 

Decorative metal fencing is one of the most attractive and most expensive options. It lends a formal look to the landscape, but doesn't offer much in the way of privacy. Metal fencing is highly durable and requires little care. It's also easy to assemble, some styles don't even require digging holes; anchors are driven into the ground to attach fence posts. Limited racking is available with some models, but most metal fencing must be stair-stepped to accommodate uneven landscape.

Also known as hurricane fencing, chain-link is made from galvanized steel and is highly durable. It comes in a variety of different wire thicknesses and mesh sizes. Chain-link is budget friendly and quick to assemble, a good choice when a large property needs to be fenced quickly. While it may not be the most beautiful choice, chain-link won't block your view. If more privacy is desired, consider weaving plastic slats through the links. 

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