When comparing wood vs vinyl fencing, is one option better than the other? Actually, each of these fence types has its own advantages and disadvantages. What matters is deciding which option is best for you.
Fortunately, we can help with that. Below is a comprehensive comparison of wood and vinyl fencing that you can use to answer this question. In it, we look at the durability/longevity of these materials, plus the overall cost of installing and maintaining these fences.
Find out which fence type is ideal for your needs with this guide.
Ease-of-installation is definitely important, especially if you plan on setting up the fence yourself. And, on this point, vinyl fences have a clear advantage over wood fences.
Unlike wood fences, vinyl fences are crafted specifically for easy installation. For example, the panels require no alteration to install. They are shaped to fit together and pre-drilled with any necessary screw holes.
Wood fence panels, on the other hand, will need to be altered and drilled as necessary. There are also a lot more panels to install for a wood fence. But vinyl fence kits have large panels and fewer of them.
Ease-of-installation is one of many reasons why vinyl fencing is usually more expensive upfront than wood fencing. Vinyl’s other advantages, like being low-maintenance, also add to its price. Additionally, wood is cheaper and more sustainable to manufacture.
However, professional installation might cost more for wood because of the amount of time and effort required. And if you install it yourself, you might have to buy certain tools for the job.
In terms of long-term cost, though, vinyl has the advantage. Vinyl requires no annual maintenance.
And it should last longer than a wood fence, too. These factors make vinyl fences a great investment for properties that are still being built and for rental properties.
Of course, a lot of these points depend on the type of wood you’d use for a wood fence. For example, hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods and more difficult to produce. They also might need to be imported, which will further increase the cost.
But hardwoods are more durable and long-lasting than softwoods. Thus, they cost less in the long run.
Like plastic, vinyl is an unnatural material that doesn’t biodegrade well. Thus, elements like weather and bugs will have little effect on it.
Even mold growth can’t deeply penetrate vinyl fencing. Any mold that forms on it can be easily wiped away.
It’s also flexible enough to be very resistant to cracking. To be accurate, vinyl is said to have 5 times the strength and flexibility of wood.
In comparison, wood is not resistant to weather, cracking, splintering, or mold/pest infestations. There are maintenance steps you can take to make your fence less susceptible to these threats. But, ultimately, wood fences are more delicate than vinyl.
With proper maintenance, you might get as many as 20 years out of your wood fence. Vinyl fences, on the other hand, will easily last longer than 20 years without any maintenance. Plus, your local fence company will give you a much longer warranty on your vinyl fence than on a wood fence.
As we mentioned earlier, wood fences need special treatment to protect them from the elements. This usually means sealing or painting them once a year.
But vinyl fences require no maintenance at all, except for occasionally replacing damaged panels. And, remember, damaging a vinyl fence is not easy. As long as you don’t back a car over it or attack it with an axe, it should remain fine.
Wood is also more difficult to clean than vinyl. The wood can soak up certain liquids, causing damage. Vinyl is non-absorbent and can be easily scrubbed with soapy water.
One advantage of wood fencing is its sustainability. Softwoods regrow quickly after being harvested. And wood is 100% recyclable.
Vinyl fences aren’t always easy to recycle. Some recycling centers will accept them, but many will not.
Also, vinyl is often manufactured in ways that are not so eco-friendly. It’s basically up to the manufacturer to decide whether or not to care about “green” manufacturing methods.
One final yet very important point of comparison is the desired appearance of your fence. Namely, if you want to have any choice at all about how your fence looks, vinyl is not an option.
Vinyl cannot be painted, stained, or colored at all, before or after installation. It can be shaped and sized, but that’s it.
Wood, however, can be painted or stained to look however you want it to. You can even change its color after a few years, if you so desire.
Keep in mind, though, that any appearance you choose for your wood fence will deteriorate over time. But the appearance of your vinyl fence will hardly change at all through the years.
Wood vs Vinyl Fencing: Which Will You Choose?
So, which is the best type of fence for you? Do you want the maintenance-free reliability of vinyl fencing?
Or do you want a cheaper fence with a larger variety of style options? In that case, wood fencing is the ideal choice.
Regardless, you don’t need to choose right now. Take your time to decide. But, when you do, remember what you’ve learned from this comparison of wood vs vinyl fencing.
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