Vinyl fencing is becoming a popular choice among homeowners. But because installing a fence is a hefty investment, joining the bandwagon with limited knowledge is not a good idea. You want to know the pros and cons of vinyl fencing.
Vinyl is a highly durable material that stands up to rot or rust. It also has the ability to mimic wood and steel designs, allowing you to get the best of both worlds while dodging the disadvantages that come with them.
However, vinyl has its own set of drawbacks. That’s why when it comes to the most installed type of fence in the United States, it only comes second to wood.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is Vinyl Fencing?
- Pros of Vinyl Fencing
- Cons of Vinyl Fencing
- How Much Does a Vinyl Fencing Cost?
- How Do I Choose the Best Fence for Me?
- FAQ About Vinyl Fences
What is Vinyl Fencing?
Vinyl fences are also called PVC fences, with PVC meaning Polyvinyl Chloride. This hardened plastic material has many uses, especially in the construction industry. As such, it’s one of the most manufactured plastic materials, earning the moniker “infrastructure plastic.”
With around 70% of PVC applications mostly for building and construction purposes, it’s only natural to assume that this material is truly tough. A fence should be able to withstand the effects of seasonal changes and other damages – and a PVC fence certainly fits the bill.
Pros of Vinyl Fences
Let’s explore the reasons why a lot of people today are choosing vinyl over other types of fencing.
Unlike other types of fence materials, vinyl’s unique selling point is its sturdiness. Regardless of temperature changes, vinyl doesn’t expand or contract. That’s because this material only reacts to extreme heat or cold. Did you know that a PVC will not melt until the temperature reaches around 350 degrees Fahrenheit? What this also means is that vinyl fences are fire resistant.
Since the material is waterproof, it’s not susceptible to any adverse reactions from exposure to moisture. Where a chain link fence would rust, and a wood fence would warp, vinyl remains unaffected even without coating it with paint or stain. And with its tough plastic material, vinyl fences are resistant to pests like termites and carpenter ants.
Manufacturers create vinyl fences with a wide variety of designs and purposes. If you’re looking for a privacy fence, you can find one with slats assembled so close together it blocks out light and sight. If you want a picket fence, some designs make it look like natural wood. You don’t even have to apply paint over them since these vinyl fences already have the colors incorporated during production.
Also, vinyl can mimic the look of an ornamental iron fence. You can have the same elegant look without having to worry about rust.
Colors may vary from neutral white and grays to bold shades like blue and red. And if you want to have a wood grain effect for a more natural look, PVC fences also can have this kind of textured design. You can have as many knots as you like without compromising its durability, as opposed to wood.
While some people are willing to accept the amount of care wood fences require, others don’t have the patience. If you want a fence that’s nearly a set-and-forget kind of thing, vinyl is your best option.
Compared to wood, it doesn’t require sanding, staining, or painting. You won’t even have to worry about which types of cleansers to use on your vinyl fence. Because it’s a non-porous material, dirt and grime don’t stick easily.
Take a white PVC fence, for example. Algae stains, mold, and mildew that build up on the fence surface are very obvious. But removing them is not that challenging, unlike cleaning a wood fence. That’s because they attach only on the surface level. The cleaning process involves scrubbing the fence lightly with a sponge soaked in soapy water and hosing it down to rinse.
Aside from requiring less effort to clean a PVC fence, it also takes significantly less time. Plus, you don’t even need to do it as often.
These PVC fences, designed to last for decades, require very low maintenance. As such, you’ll typically find manufacturers offering extended protective warranties to prove their worth.
A fence can pose a safety hazard. For instance, an aluminum fence can become scalding hot in the summer sun. Wooden fences, even if regularly maintained, may still have splinters. And while the spikes of a metal or wood picket fence help protect your property from intruders, they can be dangerous to your family – particularly children who love climbing over walls.
A vinyl fence doesn’t have these safety issues. You won’t have to worry about your kids burning their hands or getting splintered when they play near the fence. And in case of fire, your vinyl fence will not burn down because it’s fire-resistant.
Cons of Vinyl Fences
Vinyl is not the be-all-end-all of fencing. There are some downsides you need to know upfront before investing in this home improvement project.
While it’s true that vinyl materials come in a variety of colors and designs, you cannot customize them further beyond their original form. It’s a sort of “what you see is what you get” kind of thing. Even if some manufacturers offer customization options, the fence styles are still pretty limited.
That’s why those who want more freedom in modifying their fence choose wood instead. With vinyl, you won’t be able to change the molded design and color, including the measurements. You might love how it looks at first. But if you want to apply a different paint or stain in the future, you have no option but to either stick with what you got or install a new fence.
More Expensive Upfront Costs
The cost of a vinyl fence, including its installation, is one of its biggest drawbacks. Higher-quality vinyl is usually more expensive than wood and metal fencing. Yes, you get many advantages using this type of fencing material. But you will have to pay a hefty price for installation.
However, vinyl fences are still the more cost-effective solution in the long run. You won’t have to consistently spend time and money on maintenance and repair. Furthermore, you can always find vinyl fences at lower prices, although there’s a risk that the quality is not good.
Fewer Repair Options
As your vinyl fence ages, one of the most common issues you might encounter is fading color. The lower the quality of the PVC, the easier it loses its hue. With constant exposure to the sun, it’s only natural for fading to happen. This problem is not isolated to vinyl, though.
A wood fence also can become dull as it ages and may negatively affect your property’s curb appeal. But the difference is that you can always repaint or restain it – something you can’t do with a vinyl fence. And in that rare instance that a small section of your vinyl fence gets damaged, you can’t just remove the slate and replace it with a new one. You would end up replacing the whole section or the entire fence.
It’s a rare occurrence (like a tree falling on your fence) that your vinyl fence would be damaged because it is very durable. If you live in an area frequented by storms, you need to confirm that your chosen type of vinyl can withstand high winds.
While you don’t have to be a professional to install a vinyl fence yourself, it still requires an advanced level of skill and experience. With short picket fences, installation is relatively easy as you only have to pound anchor pipes into the ground.
However, if you’re going to set up privacy fences, you need a specialized tool to dig through the ground. Then, you’ll have to pour in a quick-set cement to keep the posts in place. If you find these steps overwhelming, your best solution would be to contact a local fence company in your area so they can install it for you. Since the cost of the privacy fence may fall between $1,788 to $6,961, it’s better not to take risks with substandard fence installation.
Vinyl may be the most versatile type of plastic, but it’s also one of the least eco-friendly. From production to its disposal, it releases chemicals that can harm the environment. An old, run-down vinyl fence is not easy to dispose of because it’s not biodegradable. Its extreme durability as plastic material continues even past its use.
Aside from environmental pollution, some of its chemicals even cause congenital disabilities and cancer. Considering the ecological challenges we face today, eco-conscious individuals might want to use organic materials like wood instead.
How Much Does a Vinyl Fence Cost?
A number of factors can influence the cost of a vinyl fence in the U.S., including the cost of materials, size, and height. Typically, you’ll have to shell out an average of $4,135, based on the price range of $17 to $38 per linear foot. This calculation includes the fence and installation costs but not the extra services.
Apart from the initial costs needed in setting the fence up, you also have to consider add-on expenses. You would need to pay extra for additional materials like lattice effects, gates, fence post caps, and services like old fence removal. And if you want less overhead, you can always choose a much simpler design instead of sacrificing its durability with a low-quality vinyl fence.
How Do I Choose the Best Fence for Me?
The most optimal and logical way to choose the best fence for you is to base it on your priorities. If you care more about aesthetics and not pricing, a wood fence is always one of the better choices. But if you prefer a sturdier fence with a cheaper upfront cost, you can go with steel fences. Of course, if you have the budget and want something easy to maintain, you should look into installing a vinyl fence.
FAQ About Vinyl Fences
Built to survive for decades, vinyl fences are extremely long-lasting, even with little maintenance. Assuming no extreme weather conditions like tropical storms or tornadoes strike your property, this type of fence can last up to 30 years or more. Keep in mind, though, that the actual lifespan may vary depending on the quality of PVC.
Yes, it is worth it if you consider how durable it is. You will definitely get your money’s worth since it can last for a long time with minimal maintenance cost. It’s an excellent choice for those who will be residing on the property for a long time.
High-quality vinyl fences do not break easily. They don’t get infested by termites or pests, nor do they warp or rust. Even when exposed to summer heat or the freezing winter, this type of fence doesn’t expand or contract because the threshold for such temperatures is far off.
Install the Type of Fence That Is Right for You
Now that you know the pros and cons of a vinyl fence, it should be easier to decide if this is the best option for your home improvement project. With various fencing options available today, you will be able to pick one that matches your preferences. But if you’re still unsure whether vinyl is the right fence for your property, you can always check other fence types or consult with fence professionals near you.
Want to know more about fences? Contact a local fencing company today and receive expert advice.
Main photo credit: Deniseesser / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0