Home Improvement Wednesdays
Fence Replacement: Wood or Vinyl?
Fences are an important and integral part of your property. They offer privacy, security, and safety for pets and children. They can also help enhance curb appeal and landscaping at the same time. There are many different types of fence materials used today, but wood and vinyl are two of the more popular and common choices. Below, we’ll outline the differences between them so that you can make a more informed decision for your home.
When it comes to style, most people know what to expect from a wood fence. They have been in use for centuries. Wood fences can be painted in many colors or stained to match your property.
Vinyl fences are newer but are gaining in popularity since they don’t require painting or maintenance, don’t chip or fade in the sun, and are resistant to termites. There are fewer color options and styles available, but there are enough choices available on the market today to let you find one that matches your property.
Of the two materials, vinyl is the most durable and has the least amount of regular maintenance. Wood fences require regular staining or sealing to help protect them from the elements. This stain or paint may peel, requiring scraping and refinishing every few years. In addition, wood eventually rots and warps, particularly in humid or wet areas. Wood fences may also begin pulling free, sagging, or losing shape over time. They are also susceptible to termites and other insect activity. The species of wood used can affect how quickly this happens. Pine will require more maintenance, while woods like cedar and tropical hardwoods are more resistant to humidity, pests, and fungus, which means they will last longer.
Vinyl fences are made of a type of plastic, so they aren’t subject to rotting, peeling, or decaying. They don’t change color over time and the only maintenance is an occasional cleaning of built-up dirt. Therefore, a vinyl fence may last for decades longer than a wood fence, without yearly upkeep.
Both types of fences may need occasional repairs over their lifetime. Wood fences that warp or sag may need to have boards replaced to help the fence maintain its integrity. In addition, wood fences may break or snap under pressure from tree roots or acclimate weather.
Vinyl fences may also come apart with enough pressure. However, vinyl fences go back together fairly easily and can be repaired by most homeowners within minutes, while wood fences may need professional repairs to help make them look new again.
Wood fences can be sustainable and eco-friendly. Softwoods and modified softwoods are the most sustainable. Untreated softwoods don’t last as long as hardwoods, which may mean you need to replace the fence more frequently. A modified softwood fence is a good choice for sustainability, as they can last decades without maintenance, and the trees regrow quickly. Tropical hardwoods are a nice choice for fences from a durability standpoint, but many tropical hardwoods are becoming endangered due to improper harvesting, and take an average of 70 years to regrow.
Vinyl fences last longer than wood fences, which means you will need to replace them less frequently. However, when the time comes to replace your fence, it may be difficult to find a recycling center that will take vinyl. Some vinyl fences may be made of recycled content, which can help increase their sustainability. Regardless of which type of fence you choose, ask the manufacturer about their manufacturing processes to learn more about the sustainability of that particular product.
Be sure to check with the Community Services Team regarding the need for approval when replacing your fence. Start by visiting the SAMLARC Architectural Page to learn more.