Fencing Materials to Choose From For Security and Looks

picture frame cedar fence

Are you considering building a fence this coming spring? If so, it can be helpful to get an overview of the different types of fencing materials and styles available. Check out these options, and get ahead of the game by taking some time to think about how each one might look in your yard!

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There Are a Variety of Fencing Materials, Styles and Looks to Choose From

The earlier you start researching and planning your new fence installation, the more smoothly your fence project will go in the spring. Once you finally decide which fencing materials and style you like, you can get quotes from a local fencing installation expert who can guide you through costs, installation options and maintenance requirements (so you pick the right one for the long haul).

Cedar Fencing

Stained cedar fence

Cedar fencing is beautiful, strong and one of the best fence materials for providing privacy. You can choose whether or not to leave a gap between boards – no gap will create a solid fence style that will completely block any view of your yard.

Because cedar contains a natural oil called cypressene, it is protected against rot, and you won’t have to worry about moisture and mold settling into your fence. Of course, to protect any wood fence in the long term you should refinish, stain and reseal the fence every few years or so. There are some very good combination stain/sealers available at Lowe's and most other home improvement stores.

Aluminum Fencing

Looks like wrought iron but it's aluminum

This is a utilitarian fencing material that combines the beauty of a traditional wrought-iron fence with the affordability of aluminum. Aluminum fence materials are lighter than wrought-iron and create a formal look in your yard. Like cedar fencing, aluminum fencing can be an excellent choice for security, provided that you choose security features with your particular style..

Although it’s not the most private fencing material available, gardeners often opt for this kind of fence installation since its see-through design allows passersby a view while still providing at least some protection.

Aluminum doesn’t rust, so this is considered a low-maintenance fence installation option. Just beware, aluminum fencing can dent fairly easy and ruin the whole wrought iron look and feel. Choose a good spot for aluminum fencing.

Vinyl Fence Materials

vinyl fencing materials

Sometimes called “PVC fencing,” vinyl fence materials continue to gain in popularity among homeowners who don’t want to do the maintenance involved with other types of fences, like cedar.

Vinyl fencing requires virtually no maintenance –just an occasional wash with soap and water. Unlike wood or other natural fence options, PVC won’t rot, and a vinyl fence will never require a fresh coat of paint. If you’re longing for a clean look without the work, vinyl fencing could be your best bet.

Chain Link Fence

chain link fence with dog looking through it

Chain link fences are also known as “cyclone fencing.” It's strong enough to withstand a major storm, for sure. And although not as visually pleasing as cedar fencing or other materials, chain link fencing is affordable and practical. 

Avid gardeners can easily soften the look of a chain link fence by growing ivy or other climbing plants along it. To add security, choose a smaller mesh, which can prevent intruders from getting a foothold.

A huge advantage to chain link fences are that they will let all the sunshine through, which is a biggy for gardeners. The downside to having all that sunshine? Everyone can see your stuff.

Other Fencing Styles to Consider

Dog ear: A dog-eared fence is like a solid cedar fencing layout, but with the corners cut off of each board’s top section. This is a universally pleasing fence style that is also versatile. For more privacy, leave no gaps between the boards.

You can also create more of a picket fence style by leaving gaps – or a Good Neighbor style by alternating which side of the rail you attach boards to. (These last two fence installation options are also available for traditional wood fence boards, as well.)

Picket fencing: This American classic features pointed boards spaced evenly between rails. For a low-maintenance alternative, choose vinyl picket fencing.

Lattice top: Dress up your solid privacy fence installation with a section of lattice along the top. Lattice-top fence materials are available in both wood and vinyl fencing materials.

Picture frame: Designers love this fencing style because it's beautiful on both sides and may arguably be the best type of fence for both privacy and security. If you own a pool and you want a high level of privacy, this may be your best fence choice. (The image at the top of this article is of a picture frame styled fence.)

With picture frame fencing, cedar fencing boards are mounted side-by-side with small gaps between to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the wood with temperature. Rails are found at the top and bottom of the fence, and an extra 1X4 board is added to create a “picture frame” look.

split rail fence in winter with bird

Split Rail Fence (above): A split rail fence is an economical way to give your home a country atmosphere. This style of fence won’t offer much in the way of privacy or security, but it will clearly mark your property’s boundary. In a split rail fence, two 10-foot split rails are commonly placed between posts.

Gothic and other decorative styles: Aluminum and wrought-iron fencing can be as simple or as ornate as you like. For a more stylized fence installation, add ornaments such as balls on the ends of posts, or floral designs winding between pickets.

Conclusion

There are a whole bunch of fencing styles you can consider. Just a couple of other things I didn't mention are neighborhood styles and HOA requirements. Fencing styles in the neighborhood around you should be a consideration. It helps the neighborhood as a whole.

If you pay dues to a Home Owner's Association, the HOA will likely have mandates about fence building you'll have to consider. Best to check with them before beginning.

if you are considering pulling out the old posts before installing the new fence, and don't want to wreck your back in the process, I review a reasonably priced fence post puller in this article.

Most wooden fence posts last about 15 years on the outside and you should seriously consider pulling out the old ones before moving forward on a new fence. Your new post holes will be nearly ready for the new posts if you do, which is a huge bonus!

Cedar Fence Image Courtesy of Rick's Fencing

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