Compare and Contrast: Vinyl vs. Wood Privacy Fences


We came across this article the other day from the knowledgeable folks at Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions. It does a great job of clearly comparing wood and vinyl fences in the categories of durability, maintenance, visual aesthetics, material and cost. Thank you, Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions for letting us share with our readers!

If you are in the market for a new privacy fence or are planning to tear down your old one and start anew, how do you know which material will work best for your needs? Wood and vinyl are both popular options, but they are not the same. This helpful guide will explain the differences between a vinyl vs. wood privacy fence and help you determine which one will add value and convenience to your home.

dog with umbrella

The Durability Factor for a Vinyl vs. Wood Privacy Fence

Any privacy fencing you install needs to be able to hold up well to the harsh elements. Durability is a significant player when it comes to choosing the right fence material.

From torrential rains and wind to fungus and pests, to large energetic pets, which material lasts longer?

The Durability of Wood Privacy Fences

  • Wood has long been the popular choice for many homeowners, and it can usually last around 20 years or so.
  • On the other hand, wood naturally breaks down over time being made from a natural material.
  • Certain types of wood hold up better than others and can resist decay and rotting. But even so, you need to treat the wood and apply a protective sealant to keep it in good shape. Read more on the maintenance required further down.

The Durability of Vinyl Privacy Fences

  • As for vinyl, it can stand up to all kinds of adverse conditions. Whether it is a lot of rain, humidity, or fungus, a vinyl privacy fence stays strong.
  • Since vinyl is synthetic, it is not susceptible to falling apart after prolonged exposure to the elements.
  • In the battle of durability for vinyl vs. wood privacy fence, vinyl is the victor.

DURABILITY WINNER: Vinyl Privacy Fences

staining wood fence

The Maintenance Factor for a Vinyl vs. Wood Privacy Fence

Fences are made to keep intruders out, add beauty to your home, keep pets contained, and give you additional privacy. We get it, regular maintenance and fencing are not topics typically thought of, together.

The Maintenance of Vinyl Privacy Fences

  • With vinyl fencing, you do not need to worry about a lot of maintenance. Every so often you can hose the fence off to keep it looking clean. Give it a good rinse with a garden hose after storms to remove excess dirt.
  • In most cases, heavy rains will wash any residue off, making vinyl virtually maintenance-free!

The Maintenance of Wood Privacy Fences

As for wood, you most definitely need to be more vigilant to keep your wood fence looking new.

  • Wood needs to be treated and stained at least once a year for the best aesthetics and to help to prevent rot: this intensive process that takes money and energy and a full day for standard yards.
  • You should treat your wood fence annually for the first three years as a good rule of thumb. Then, stain it every other year to keep it looking beautiful and new.
  • Wood tends to rot as time goes on, and it also starts to fall apart or warp. When this happens, you will replace either an entire section or add a new piece of wood.
  • Termites are another serious concern when it comes to wood fencing.

In comparison, vinyl fencing does not have this problem and has a much longer lifespan. With no maintenance, yet again, vinyl fencing wins the battle for ease of care.

MAINTENANCE WINNER: Vinyl Privacy Fences

vinyl privacy fence

The Cost Factor for a Vinyl vs. Wood Privacy Fence

In this round, we outline the cost of vinyl vs. wood privacy fences. Of course, most homeowners want to save money on a new fence, but how does that play out in the long run?

Wood vs Vinyl Fences - Cost Compared Over Time

Wood vs Vinyl Fences - Value Compared Over TimeThe Cost of Vinyl Privacy Fences

  • When it comes to upfront pricing, vinyl is typically more expensive than wood. However, if you look at the big picture, it’s less costly (long term) than wood after all the maintenance that a wood fence requires.
  • If you plan to live in your home for a long time, vinyl is the better choice. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up needing to repair or replace your wood fence within 15-20 years.
  • Once you install a vinyl fence, you’re good to go. Compare the cost of repairs, replacement, and maintenance, and vinyl wins out yet again.

Think of vinyl privacy fences as a wise and long-term investment. Sure, you may pay a bit more at first, but you’ll reap the great benefits of no maintenance and longer-lasting material. Even if you sell your home shortly after the installation of your vinyl fence, you’re sure to recoup your investment with the sale of your home and the new homeowner will be happy that they won’t have to put additional money into the maintenance of their fence!

The Cost of Wood Privacy Fences

  • On the other hand, wood is undoubtedly cheaper upfront, but you will need to include treatments and stains as part of your fencing budget. The larger your fence, the more this can start to add up, especially if you pay to have the fence stained by a professional staining company.
  • If you have a small project like a garden area, wood might be viable. But when it comes to pool fencing or fencing around your entire backyard, vinyl is the better investment when it comes to long-term cost.
  • Over time, as a wood privacy fence depreciates, and maintenance increases, you may end up paying twice the cost of the wood privacy fence. Then once the life of the wood fence comes to an end, consider the costs of yanking it out and starting over.

The bottom line, the additional difference in price to purchase a vinyl fence is well worth it.

COST WINNER: Tie. Long-term goes to vinyl, short term to wood.

vinyl privacy fence

The Design Factor for a Vinyl vs. Wood Privacy Fence

Fencing serves a purpose, but it should also add beauty to your home. When it comes to vinyl vs. wood privacy fence designs, who will be the victor?

The Design of Wood Privacy Fences

  • Wood offers a rustic, natural look that a lot of homeowners prefer.
  • Wood gives your home a traditional aesthetic that has long been part of the classic neighborhood landscape.
  • A perk of having a wood fence is that you can stain it any color which gives you flexibility when it comes to choosing the color you desire.

The Design of Vinyl Privacy Fences

  • On the other hand, vinyl fences now come in a vast range of designs, and they’re continually evolving. White used to be the primary color for vinyl fences, but this industry has certainly come a long way.
  • Today’s vinyl fences feature an assortment of attractive colors. Whether it’s a light tan or a dark brown, you can find vinyl fences in a myriad of colors to suit your style.
  • Aside from the colors, these fences are now available in a vast assortment of designs and textures too.
  • Whether you love the sleek contemporary look or you prefer something a touch more classic, vinyl fencing has it all.
  • You can also buy a wide range of decorative post caps and lighting to add to your vinyl fencing, giving you a lot more flexibility when it comes to how you want your home to look.

Vinyl privacy fences also look newer, for much longer, creating more positive curb appeal for the life of your home. The comparison of fencing when it comes to design is subjective, but many modern homeowners like the sleek, smooth look that vinyl fences offer.

DESIGN WINNER: Vinyl Privacy Fences

The Material Factor for a Vinyl vs. Wood Privacy Fence

A quality privacy fence should give you a higher level of privacy when enjoying your pool or backyard. So when it comes to the best fencing to provide you with the privacy you need, which material is better?

The Material of Wood Privacy Fences

  • Wood can offer your home a subtle, natural look and tall fence panels should provide some degree of the privacy you need. However, when wood warps, it leaves significant gaps between sections, causing getting complete privacy a challenge.
  • The back of a wood fence usually doesn’t look as good as the front, so when you are outside you’re not enjoying the beauty of your fence, unless you’re looking at it from your neighbor’s yard or the street.

The Material of Vinyl Privacy Fences

  • Many vinyl fence panels consist of tongue and groove pickets ensuring that there’s no gapping, which means you’ll get the privacy you deserve. And since vinyl won’t warp, there’s no need to worry about those privacy-reducing gaps like wood. Most vinyl fencing looks the same way on both sides, fantastic, no matter your view.
  • Unless you choose a picket-style fence that already comes with gaps, vinyl fences do a great job at giving you the privacy you need. Wood can also perform well in terms of privacy, but it’s more prone to damage, putting your privacy at risk.

If you want to let a little more sunlight into your yard or pool area, consider a vinyl fence with a lattice top. This consideration boils down to your personal preference in terms of privacy and style.

MATERIAL WINNER: Vinyl Privacy Fences

vinyl privacy fence

Most Popular Vinyl Privacy Fences

We hope you are convinced, investing in a vinyl privacy fence. over wood, is a very wise choice.

Here are our most popular privacy fences we offer.

  1. Really Good: New Lexington Vinyl Privacy Fence. New Lexington is the most popular and least expensive vinyl privacy fence we offer. Available in the colors of white and almond and the heights of 4′, 5′ and 6′.
  2. Even BetterChesterfield Smooth Vinyl Privacy Fence. The Chesterfield Smooth textured vinyl privacy fence has been wind load tested to withstand up to 115 miles per hour winds. Great for both home and commercial applications.
  3. The Best: Chesterfield CertaGrain Vinyl Privacy Fence. Bring the timeless beauty of painted wood fencing to your backyard thanks to the Chesterfield with CertaGrain™, Bufftech easy-care, wood-look privacy fence. CertaGrain provides an authentic, wood-like appearance AND texture you won’t find on ANY OTHER vinyl fence products

Make Your Home Beautiful (and Safe) with a Privacy Fences

Whether you love the natural look of wood or prefer the low maintenance and aesthetics of vinyl, fencing can add beauty and functionality to any home.

In the battle of vinyl vs. wood privacy fence materials, carefully consider the pros and cons of each.

The weather in the St. Louis area often changes, so keep that in mind when choosing your new fence.

Wood material that’s prone to damage or rotting is not as good as vinyl, which will stand the test of time.

Above article reprinted with permission from Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions.

For design help, check out this new design tool to help structure your yard.

1 Comment

  1. Vinyl fence looks great than wood fence. It is more attractive and secure compare to wood fence. A well informative information for the reader.

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