The competition between vinyl and wood fencing has seen a change in dynamics over the past several decades. In our grandparents’ time, almost all the fences were wooden and there were no alternatives.
Then, in a eureka moment, the accidental discovery of vinyl in the mid-1920s changed the course of history. The material first designed simply as a substance to “hold together metal and rubber” made its way to becoming the most popular fencing material in the world.
Vinyl is a synthetic product made of mainly rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Additives may confer additional properties such as long-term UV-protection (via titanium dioxide) and increased durability (CrystalWax).
To explain why vinyl fences are so much better, we’ve compiled a list of questions and answers addressing the most pressing concerns buyers usually have when picking out a new fence:
Which fence costs more: Vinyl vs. Wood?
Side by side measurements of both fences shows that the cost is $4,000-$6,000 for a 6-foot high, 200+ yard privacy fence and $3000-$5,000 for the same height and length of fencing made of cedar wood fence.
At most vinyl fences can cost twice as much as wood fences. Generally, in all cases, this means that vinyl is more expensive than its competitor. Cheaper is not always better and in the long run, you may need several replacements for your wooden fences.
The efficiency of vinyl fences and their requirement for less maintenance than wooden means owners will pay less money in total than they would for installing and up-keeping their wooden fences. The likelihood which vinyl fences need to be replaced is much lower than that of wooden fences, which leads us to the next question.
Which fence is more durable: Vinyl vs. Wood?
Vinyl fencing is one of the best choices to make when it comes to durability. They even come with a lifetime warranty. It is known that vinyl fences have lasted for generations, looking almost as good as new.
Unlike wooden fences, vinyl fences do not rot, chip, warp, or mold due to time and weather. UV inhibitors can prevent effects the sun usually has on wood, turning it an unsightly yellow color. In addition, vinyl is an inorganic material which means it will not support any unwanted lifeforms which may grow on wood.
Vinyl fences are also resistant to moisture and humidity. A PVC vinyl fence holds true in even the toughest weather and lasts a very long time. Maintenance is incredibly simple and does not involve the need of harsh chemicals, insecticides to combat termites or fungicides to combat mildew.
They only way that a vinyl fence can turn any other color is if it comes into contact with soil. In such a case, mildew may develop in the soil, but this is easy to remove. Wood fences are known to rot, peel, and sag and require a great deal of time and effort to maintain. In fact, they are infamously called “the termite belt.”
The paint on wooden fences may not even last for an entire winter, and by spring, you will see that a new paint job is required. Vinyl fences may lose a bit of flexibility in the harshest winters; however, that change is almost unnoticeable and is nothing in comparison to wood fences.
Vinyl either comes in the form of “virgin” vinyl which is a manufactured product directly made of raw and synthetic materials (mainly PVC) and recycled vinyl which is new vinyl made from scraps of other manufactured vinyl products.
The word “recycled” comes from the re-use of scraps of other new materials. There is actually little difference in quality between these two types of vinyl, and both are actually new.
Whereas all vinyl is PVC, PVC is a type of vinyl and there are other types. These include polyvinylidene chloride, polyvinyl acetate, and polyvinyl alcohol. Among all these types, PVC vinyl is the vinyl of choice for fence construction.
Which fence is more popular: Vinyl vs. Wood?
Vinyl fences, which now can come in several colors, are definitely increasing in popularity and today, you can often see more vinyl fences than wooden ones. The appealing qualities of vinyl fences which wood fences cannot provide: long-lasting durability, low-maintenance, high-integrity, and modern appeal, making them a go-to for many buyers.
Naturally, vinyl comes in only white or tan since that is the color of titanium dioxide. While it is not recommended due to the expansion and contraction of PVC vinyl, light colors of 100% acrylic may be used with or without a primer.
Interestingly, there are even vinyl fences which are designed to look like wood or stone so those who prefer a more traditional appearance can have the best of both worlds. (See: wood grain vinyl fences).
Vinyl privacy fences are also more efficient at doing what they are designed to do (conceal your home and property from onlookers) than wooden ones. In terms of adding value to a household in the long run, vinyl fences will most likely be as good as new when and if you decide to sell your home.
Wooden fences may even detract from the overall value of your home if they are found to be past their time.
Which fence is more environment-friendly: Vinyl vs. Wood?
If you’re looking for the “greener” one among the two, vinyl fences are a much better option. Apart from its amazing qualities and benefits listed above, vinyl fences are a lot less taxing to the planet. Everyone knows that deforestation is a huge problem.
While forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area, about half the size of England is lost annually. This statistic could be reduced if there is a better and more efficient solution for fencing materials. Fortunately, vinyl offers the perfect answer because it does not require any trees to be cut down.
It also requires less energy and resources (including common salt) than what goes into the construction of wooden fences and is fully recyclable. The components of vinyl do not release chemical wastes into the environment or cause toxic damage.
In comparison, rotten wood may only return to the soil in some cases or may have to be treated with harsh chemicals before that stage due to insect and fungal infestations.
As aforementioned, vinyl fences also last longer than wooden fences meaning fewer will need to be made and installed over a given period, enabling the conservation of even more resources.
Vinyl fences are also safer for your home. By this, we mean that while wood fences will easily catch fire under unfortunate circumstances, vinyl is “self-extinguishing” and will only give in to temperatures over 900 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comparatively, wood ignites at 356 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes vinyl a good choice both for the safety of the environment and the household.
Which one is easier to install and clean: vinyl vs. wood?
Vinyl fences are much easier to clean and a little goes a long way. The plastic surface of vinyl resists staining from the most noxious substances and odors. All that is usually required to clean vinyl is a cloth, some detergent, and water.
The same cannot be said of wood which often require harsh chemical components such as liquid bleach to remove many types of stains. In these cases, a visible and permanent mark may be left on the fence after treatment.
Termites will also require termite traps and chemical termiticides to get rid of. All these chemicals can be harmful, especially for younger children who are playing near the fenced area.
The installation process of wooden fences requires a time-consuming and expensive process of cutting down lumber, carving the wood using high-powered machinery, and nailing together the base, handles, and posts.
In nearly all cases, unless you are a construction worker or fence installer yourself, putting up a wooden fence will require professional assistance.
Yet many people have the ability to put up vinyl fences all by themselves and some vinyl fences even come in a do-it-yourself kit. The installation process varies by product but two of the most common ways of installing vinyl fences are simply inserting the rails into pre-routed holes in the posts or attaching posts together with brackets.
Dry concrete is placed around the posts after the distance between fences has been measured and the job is complete.
The same reasons that make vinyl among the top materials for fencing due to its durability, easy installation and environment-friendly make it the top choice for customers seeking all types of fencing projects.
From just the front porch to fencing your entire yard, vinyl fences will provide you with years and years of a high-quality and functional home embellishment you can be proud of.
It’s becoming a no-brainer why vinyl fences are being preferred over wooden fences which are degraded and lose their appeal over time. If you are considering a fence for your home, it’s for certain you will be glad you chose vinyl fencing!