Vinyl vs. Wood Fence Comparison Guide

By HomeAdvisor

Updated August 24, 2021


Left/Bottom: Jason – stock.adobe.com
Top/Right: Vastram – stock.adobe.com

Whether you want a new look for your yard, a safer area for your children and pets, or just a bit more privacy, installing a new fence is a great idea. Vinyl and wood both offer benefits, including multiple styles, life expectancy, and affordability. Here are some details on the vinyl vs. wood fence discussion to help you choose the best material for your home.

  1. Vinyl vs. Wood Fence: Which Is Better?
    1. Appearance
    2. Variety and Options
    3. Cost
    4. Maintenance and Cleaning
    5. Ease of Installation
    6. Privacy
    7. Length of Life
    8. Painting and Finishes
    9. Repairs and Replacements
    10. Property Value
  2. Vinyl vs. Wood Fence: Which Is Better for Your Home?
  3. Vinyl vs. Wood vs. Composite
  4. Vinyl vs. Wood vs. Chain Link Fence

Vinyl vs. Wood Fence: Which Is Better?

Vinyl and wood both offer unique benefits. Here are some comparisons of the two materials.

Appearance

Wood and vinyl come in many styles and designs based on budget and the type of wood you buy. Many feel wood gives your home a classic, traditional look. That said, vinyl looks newer longer and won’t degrade as quickly.

Variety and Options

Both vinyl and wood fences come in a variety of options. With wood, you have more than a dozen popular options to choose from (cedar, oak, cypress, and bamboo, just to name a few). Vinyl is an affordable type of plastic that comes in many styles and preferences to meet your privacy needs. You may even be able to find vinyl material that looks like your favorite wood.

Cost

The cost of installing a new fence is relatively affordable. Installing a vinyl fence costs less than wood, although wood as a material is generally cheaper. Wood ranges from $2 to $10 per picket, while vinyl costs between $2 and $6.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Vinyl is easier to maintain than wood. You can clean it with soapy water to remove grit and dirt buildup, and also don’t have to worry about debris getting stuck in between pickets or in the grooves of your fence. That said, vinyl appears dirty more easily than wood.

Ease of Installation

Hiring a fencing professional will cost about the same no matter which material you choose, and $30 to $80 per hour is standard. A vinyl fence takes less time than wood, which could help you save on installation costs. For those wanting to take the DIY route, vinyl is much easier to install overall.

Privacy

Vinyl and wood are both excellent for keeping your home life inside the backyard. Over time, wood can become warped, exposing holes that allow outsiders to see in. Vinyl won’t warp but is more susceptible to damage due to inclement weather.

Length of Life

Vinyl is the superior choice for longevity. Well-maintained, you can expect your vinyl fence to last 100 years. A wooden fence will last about 20 years.

Painting and Finishes

Today, vinyl fences that look like wood can give you the appearance of wood along with the durability of plastic. You can’t paint over it, though, so what you purchase is what you’ll get. If you decide to change your yard’s look, you can easily repair or stain wood with a new color to match.

Repairs and Replacements

When it comes to repairing your fence, vinyl and wood are both pretty straightforward—although wood is more likely to need it. You can get a new picket from the store and install it yourself rather easily.

Property Value

A nice fence is a major selling point for any home. Vinyl and wood both will increase your property value, so long as they’re maintained. Some homeowners seek out that classic wood appearance, which could be better for ROI.

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Vinyl vs. Wood Fence: Which is Best For Your Home?

Considering the type of home you own, where you live, and why you’re deciding between vinyl and wood can help you pick the right material.

Which is best for homes with kids?

For those installing a fence, vinyl or wood are both great choices for homes with kids. Wood can warp over time, which might make it easier for people to see into your yard. Older wooden fences can also give splinters, which may cause concern if you have small children. For safety and privacy purposes, a vinyl fence may be the way to go with little ones around.

Which is best for homes with pets?

Wooden fences can seal off your home to the street, which could be useful if your dog barks or growls at people who pass by. Vinyl is a good option, too, but you’ll want to make sure your pickets are close enough together—especially if your dog is an escape artist.

Vinyl vs. Wood vs. Composite

Composite fencing typically costs somewhere in between wood and vinyl. Made from recycled plastic and wood, it gives off that classic wooden fence look while offering some of the benefits of vinyl. If you’re highly considering vinyl but really want a wooden fence for aesthetic purposes, composite fencing is another option to consider.

Vinyl vs. Wood vs. Chain-link Fence

Chain-link fences are another affordable option, although they offer less curb appeal than wood and vinyl. They also provide little in the way of privacy, so you should consider that before installing it. The primary benefit chain link fencing can provide that vinyl and wood can’t is the almost non-existent maintenance that comes with it. There’s very little work you need to do beyond installation.

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2 Comments

  1. Bob M, January 20:

    I used to install fence many years ago. I cringe when I see a PVC fence. They are not as durable as a good quality wood. A basketball will usually crack or break a fence panel. The only way to fix it is by replacing the panel. If kids climb the fence it will most likely be damaged. Post caps fall off and get lost. If a car hits a vinyl fence it blows right through it. Not so much with wood. Vinyl fence was put up around a gazebo in my town. Within a week the rails broke off due to people sitting on them or leaning on them. I inspected it and saw that construction screws were all that held it up, vinyl to vinyl. After many attempts at fixing it the town gave up and there are no fence sections on it any longer. One town away there is a gazebo with wooden rails that are a solid as a rock and over 60 years old. Also vinyl siding is in the same category. I see vinyl siding hanging off houses and in a fire it simply melts away.

    Vinyl does look nice and requires less maintenance but over time the suns rays will fade and degrade the material. I have aluminum siding on my house that is 50 years old with no signs of it ever needing replacement, although the paint is starting to chalk. My redwood fence was 40 or more years old before I replaced it. I would stain it every few years but the posts rotted. I have seen people fall on their butts when vinyl chairs blow apart. We have been deceived by the industry. It is easier for them to manufacture and install and is more profitable. I settled for a composite fence that I am very pleased with but I noticed that Home Depot no longer sells it. It looks like redwood and it was more expensive. Three sections with posts and hardware cost me $1000 to install myself. A basketball will not damage it or people leaning on it and it requires no maintenance.

  2. S.B.F., September 25:

    Vinyl is NOT the most long last material or the most durable. Wood can last 50 years. Vinyl looks bad after only about a year or less – it starts to fade, becomes moldy and starts to disintegrate and become powdery to touch – which is the plastic degrading. Also it is toxic, off gases and cannot be recycled and remains toxic in the landfill. Vinyl is a poor and very bad choice for a fence.

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