How Much Does a Privacy Fence Cost?
While a wide-open backyard has a certain appeal, adding a privacy fence can provide security and seclusion to your outdoor living space. Privacy fence costs can vary, but they average around $2,791.
- Typical Range: $1,666 – $4,056
- National Average: $2,791
Keeping the backyard protected from the prying eyes of neighbors—even neighbors you love—can help make it a relaxing oasis. Some landscapes are suited for tall rows of trees or hedges, but for many, an attractive privacy fence can offer a secluded space and a lovely background for plantings or playscapes. Fencing can be a significant investment, so it’s important to budget carefully and consider the additional costs, such as permits, excavation, installation, and finish. It’s a worthwhile investment: Sturdy, nice-looking fencing can increase curb appeal, as home buyers with children or pets often consider fencing to be a must-have, and it can increase your own enjoyment of your backyard. Privacy fence cost is dependent on a lot of choices you’ll make about the purpose, style, and size of the fence, so there are many opportunities to customize the project. These variables are explained below.
How to Calculate Privacy Fence Cost
There are many styles of fencing available for homeowners to choose from, so once you’ve measured your yard, you can adjust your budget and the estimated total cost based on the materials you select and the height of the fence. For a basic calculation, consider the following:
- Measure the area you’d like to enclose. Take into consideration the location of the property lines and how far inside them the local code requires a fence to be installed. This is the linear footage of fencing you’ll need.
- Select a height and style of fencing that complements your yard.
- Choose the material.
- Check the post spacing requirements for your town’s code or the spacing recommended by your fence manufacturer. Divide your linear footage number by the post spacing number, and add two. That’s how many posts you’ll need to purchase.
- Multiply this number. Multiply this number by two or three (depending on the height of the fence) to calculate how many rails you’ll need.
- Wood fences. For a wood fence, divide the total linear foot number by the width of the pickets to calculate how many rails, pickets, and posts you’ll need.
- Panel fencing. For fencing sold in panels, divide the linear footage by the width of the panels.
- Add the cost of gates and hardware. Will you need a gate in your fence to exit the yard? If so, the cost of the gate and hardware will add to the total cost.
- Finishing touches. For wood fences, add the cost of stain, finish, or both.
- Add the cost of permits. If your area requires permits to install fences, add that cost.
- Labor. Privacy fence installation is a big job, especially if the yard isn’t level. Consider the cost of hiring a professional.
Factors in Calculating Privacy Fence Cost
The wide range of fence installation costs is largely due to the variety of shapes, styles, and materials of fencing available. This is beneficial to homeowners in several ways: If a backyard fence is important and cost is the chief consideration, it’s possible to choose materials that are less costly in order to get the job done swiftly. However, there are quite a few factors to consider when forming a budget and plan.
Fencing materials are priced based on the cost per linear foot. Therefore, the size of the area to be enclosed will determine everything else about the cost. The measurement of the number of feet of fencing material needed guides the total cost, with larger or oddly shaped yards costing more than smaller yards and those that don’t require rails or panels to be cut.
Privacy fencing is available in chain link, wood, vinyl, aluminum, and wrought iron. Both the material and installation costs vary, with chain link costing the least and wrought iron being the most expensive.
The style of fence a homeowner selects will also affect the pricing: picket fences, iron, or split-rail styles provide a little less privacy but cost less and can be a great option for gardeners looking to trail plantings up the fence. Stockade and vinyl panel fences are a bit more expensive but offer more complete privacy and are quite sturdy. Wood pickets take more time to install properly and will increase labor costs. Lattice work and stylized post caps add more to the total. This choice will be balanced between the look, cost, and level of privacy the homeowner is hoping for.
Gates are priced by the piece and also require hinges and fastening hardware. While you may initially think a gate is unnecessary, gates are useful in the long run, providing a shortcut through your property. Gates also offer curb appeal, so you’ll need to choose whether you want a gate on one side or both sides of the house. Balancing convenience against the cost, choosing the number of gates can add to or subtract from the overall cost.
Privacy fences come in standard 6-foot and 8-foot sizes. Local regulations may limit the height that can be installed, and there can be a difference in these codes based on the height of the material itself versus the height off the ground. Therefore, it’s important to check on the specifics: An 8-foot fence installed on a hill over a significant dip in the ground can turn into a 10-foot total height that violates regulations. Additionally, 8-foot fencing can add as much as 35 percent to the total cost of the project, so carefully consider how much your fencing needs to block out.
The posts that support any privacy fence need to be dug deeply into the soil and sometimes cemented to prevent the fence from collapsing or blowing over in windy or snowy conditions. Rough, rocky soil; heavy clays; soil with many roots running through; or hilly terrain can make the digging of post holes difficult and time-consuming, so labor costs will increase. In some cases, a root or rock cannot be removed and the placement of the post must be adjusted accordingly, which can add material and labor costs.
Additional Costs and Considerations
There are additional costs to take into account and considerations to make before settling on a budget for the total cost of your privacy fence—or even deciding to install a privacy fence around your property. Some of these costs are unavoidable, depending on where you live.
Because fence installation usually requires digging, you or your contractor will need to call 811 to check for hidden utility lines before beginning. That’s a free service, but the cost of moving any utilities that are in the way won’t be. Local government or HOAs may also require permits or fees and a follow-up inspection. Because privacy fences also affect neighbors, this isn’t a job to try to avoid the permits for; removing and reinstalling a fence that doesn’t meet requirements can be hugely expensive and can also damage your relationship with your neighbors. Some localities require that the “pretty” side of the fence face outward as well, so apply for permits and check the regulations before beginning work.
The cost to have professional installation of fencing will vary based on the material, but it averages between $30 and $70 per hour. An average fence installation can take around 23 hours, so it’s not a small cost, but it includes professional measurement, purchase of materials, delivery, installation, and cleanup, and usually also includes a warranty. It’s worth noting that contractors can often get significantly lower prices on materials, so adding the labor cost can save on materials, delivery, and haul away, and it may not add much to the overall cost.
Removal of the Existing Fence, if Needed
Removing an existing fence can be a surprisingly large expense: Even if a homeowner decided to DIY, fence posts that are set in concrete can be difficult to get out, and there may be a separate cost for disposal of the old fence materials, especially if they’re pressure-treated wood. Homeowners can expect to pay between $2 and $5 per linear foot for a professional to remove existing fencing.
Ideally the area where the fence is to be placed will be clear of undergrowth and planting, but often yard perimeters have shrubs, groundcover, or trees in place. Some may need to be removed, while others (for example, larger shade trees or old trees that add character to the yard) may require the fence installers to implement creative work-arounds.
Some homeowners are lucky enough to have root- and rock-free level yards with a perfect combination of sandy and clay soil. Fence installations in this kind of soil will often cost less. Heavy, dense clay soils are much tougher to excavate, heavier to haul, and can raise labor costs, but they will hold the fence posts firmly. Light sandy soil may require concrete to hold the posts upright, increasing time spent and the cost of materials. Deeply rooted or rocky soil can make the installation downright difficult—those situations will require additional labor time and potentially additional equipment.
Painting and Sealing
Wood fences require finishing to stand up to the elements. A well-applied coat of clear sealant will allow wood to weather slowly and gracefully, where a coat of exterior paint can add color to a plain yard. Either way, plan on purchasing enough paint, stain, or sealant to cover the fence after installation, and then add materials and time to your budget in future years for maintenance and upkeep of the finish.
It’s often the final flourishes that make a privacy fence truly beautiful. Elegant metalwork, intricate lattice, custom finials, or even unusual wood selections can make a fence stand out from the neighbors’ and add curb appeal—but these touches will add to the overall cost.
Privacy Fence Cost: Types of Fences
Homeowners have a lot of options when it comes to the materials for their privacy fences. Each has benefits and drawbacks, and there can be significant cost differences both because of the expense of the materials themselves and the cost of labor to install them. All of the options will provide privacy, with varying levels of protective enclosure for pets and children.
Wood fences are classic and blend well into almost any neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for pickets, stockade, rail, or other styles, wood fences can be built out of many different types of timber and painted or stained. In this case, “traditional” doesn’t have to mean “boring.” Wood fence panels can be installed horizontally for a more modern look, or they can be built on a diagonal for a transitional style. Latticework, finials, or post caps can be added to customize the look. Wood fences can cost from $17 to $45 per linear foot, depending on the wood type, height, and style.
Aluminum fencing looks clean and modern and lasts for a long time with little maintenance. The rails are generally a bit farther apart than wood pickets, so as a privacy fence, aluminum fencing will require a bit of landscaping to block the neighbors’ view. The biggest drawback is the cost of installation: While the materials average out to around $26 per linear foot (with a wide range—the cost is very much dependent on size and style and whether or not the buyer opts for powder coating), the installation is not a DIY project and can add more than $10 per foot.
Maintenance-free, easy to clean, easy to install, and mid-priced, vinyl fencing is available in multiple colors and styles. The average cost per linear foot is $17, plus an additional $7 per foot for installation. Vinyl is not always an appropriate choice, though. Because the panels do not allow airflow, they can blow over or crack in high wind conditions, and in extreme heat they can soften or buckle. While it costs more per foot up front than some other options, it does not require time-intensive, costly maintenance, so the lifetime cost may be similar. For many applications, however, vinyl is a long-lasting, low-maintenance option.
While it is not generally thought to be as attractive as other fence options, chain link is inexpensive, highly functional, and reasonably easy for homeowners to install themselves, saving money on labor costs. Pricing out at approximately $7 per linear foot for materials and $10 per foot for installation, chain link makes it feasible to enclose large areas for less money. The DIY route makes it even more cost effective. Chain link is available in bare metal versions but also in color-coated or metallic-coated options, and there are a number of choices for covers, rail edges, and other materials to customize the fence for your needs.
Similar to wrought iron in weight and appearance, but easier to DIY and considerably less costly, steel fencing is a great option for homeowners who crave the elegance of iron but not the maintenance schedule or outlay of cash. Costing an average of $26 per linear foot with an additional $10 per foot for professional installation, steel is not inexpensive, but it requires little maintenance and is a reasonable DIY project for the handy homeowner.
Classic, beautiful, and customizable, wrought-iron fencing tends to increase the value of a home and highlights the landscaping and layout of the yard. Costing an average of $30 to $100 per linear foot (and considerably more for custom work) plus at least $10 per foot for installation, wrought iron is prone to rust and denting, so it requires a fair amount of regular maintenance to look its best. That said, iron develops a patina over time that is stately and aesthetically pleasing, making it a worthwhile investment for homeowners who are interested in its style.
Wire fencing, intended to provide protection for gardens and trees and to keep pets in and strays out, runs about $1 to $3 per linear foot. This fencing is sold in large rolls and must be attached to stakes, stapled to wood framing, or connected to large posts. It can be attached to rail fences or picket fences to more completely enclose the yard, or fitted around gardens to protect specific areas. It is also ideal for homeowners who want the look of vines and flowers growing up their privacy fences: If spacers are used in the installation, wire fencing can be attached to wood, vinyl, or metal fences to provide an almost invisible trellis for vines to climb without damaging the base fence.
Ranch or farm fencing is designed to keep larger animals in and predators away. Because every installation is custom based on the needs of the buyer, costs will vary: Most ranch fencing consists of horizontal rails mounted to posts that travel as high as necessary. While this style of fencing is intended for farm installations, it can also be used for neighborhood applications for homeowners looking for a creative and different look.
For the environmentally conscious homeowner, sustainable bamboo fencing can be a great privacy option. This fencing can be planted live, where it will grow into a dense, prunable fence, or it can be purchased cut, dried, and bound, which renders the wood almost maintenance-free. Usually sold in rolls that are mounted to metal or wood posts, the sticks of bamboo are bound together closely to provide enclosure with a natural look. It is not inexpensive: Bamboo fencing will add between $20 and $30 per foot to the cost of other wood fencing, but it is long lasting and does not require sealing and painting.
Do I Need a Privacy Fence?
While some homeowners prefer the spacious feel of a wide-open yard, there are many reasons why installing a backyard fence might be a good choice. Fences keep animals and people in or out, protect your investment, and provide security, all of which can make the yard feel more like a haven and less like a public space.
Marking a Property
Placing a fence on the perimeter of a yard clearly demarcates where a property begins and ends, especially in areas where installing a fence requires confirmation of the property lines. This can be helpful when planning renovations or changes to the property, as it will help you know precisely how much room you have to work with. In addition, a fence can clarify where a homeowner’s mowing and maintenance responsibilities begin and end and can prevent disputes with neighbors over those tasks. Finally, in areas with a lot of wide-open space or farmland, a fence can protect land from encroachment by clearly staking out the boundaries.
Safety and Security
Families with younger children who want to play outside know that taking eyes off a child for even a moment in an unsecured space can mean a run into the road or an incident with an unsecured animal or pet. Plenty of parents and pet owners have practiced the mad dash down the street to retrieve a wanderer. And even those without pets or children may have been surprised by a dog or person unexpectedly appearing in the yard. A fence can make it easier to keep tabs on kids and pets and protect homeowners from unwanted surprises. Fences also create a barrier to break-ins or vandalism: Providing an additional obstacle for criminals or mischief-makers to overcome means they’re more likely to move on. If you have a pool—even a temporary one—local regulations or your homeowners insurance may require fencing to protect against drowning accidents.
A well-chosen fence can add beauty and shape to a yard. Decorative scrollwork and lattice create dimension, while a plain, simple wood fence can be the backdrop that makes the colors and textures of a lush garden pop rather than blending into the neighbor’s greenery. Fencing can also be used to separate a yard into distinct areas for dining, lounging, or swimming, genuinely creating an outdoor living space.
Any activity you’d prefer to do away from prying eyes, such as reading quietly by a pool, disastrously losing at badminton, relaxing in a hot tub after work, or enjoying dinner and a movie with your family, can be protected by a privacy fence. Even if you love your neighbors, you don’t necessarily want to invite them into every moment of your life, especially during precious leisure time. Fencing can add privacy to the entire yard or to smaller areas where privacy is particularly important to you. In addition, if neighboring houses are close to your own, privacy fencing can interrupt the sight lines from your neighbor’s kitchen to your own, so you won’t need to keep the curtains constantly drawn for privacy even inside your home.
Increase in Property’s Value
Does a fence increase property value? It can certainly increase curb appeal, but the answer to this question is a mixed bag, because it varies by region, neighborhood, and potential buyer pool. A well-kept fence is almost never going to reduce the value of a home, so if you’re planning to enjoy the fence while living in your home, you probably won’t need to worry that it will decrease the property value. In suburban areas where buyers are likely to have dogs or young children, real estate agents suggest that a well-maintained fence be added to a property. The value of properties in urban areas with smaller yards would also likely go up with the addition of a privacy fence, as built-in privacy without having to install a fence is a great benefit to potential buyers. The key to a fence’s value in terms of home price is its condition. A beautiful, sturdy, well-kept fence adds charm and curb appeal and can really make the appearance of a home stand out. However, real estate agents caution that adding a fence just for the purpose of a sale will likely not recoup the cost of installation.
Privacy Fence Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Some fence styles can certainly be installed by homeowners who have the correct tools and know-how. This can save money on labor costs and allow the homeowner to curate their own timeline and customize the fence and installation as they please. Hanging out in a yard you have fenced yourself can create a great sense of accomplishment. Chain link, wood, some vinyl, and potentially some steel fences can be achieved by committed homeowners, while aluminum and wrought-iron fences will likely be a difficult DIY.
Hiring a reputable contractor can save time, expense, and frustration and result in a precise and polished finish. Even for experienced homeowners, fence-building will require a fair amount of research and significant labor time—usually far more time than an experienced crew will need. Rental or delivery costs for materials and specialty tools can add up quickly, and the cost of the materials themselves can be higher for individual buyers than for contractors by a significant margin. Therefore, doing it yourself may not result in as big a savings as anticipated. A contractor will likely have installed fences in dozens of different configurations and conditions and will have the know-how to deal with challenges such as uneven ground, unmovable roots, overhanging trees, and navigating the sometimes-complicated permitting and inspection rules. A fence is a long-term installation, so it’s best to make it sturdy, stable, and beautiful on the first try.
How to Save Money on Privacy Fence Cost
Careful planning and creative thinking are the best ways to save money on a fence installation. By doing some homework prior to purchasing materials, homeowners can prevent costly errors and make sure they have budgeted correctly.
- Choose less expensive materials—but be sure to compute the total cost of materials, installation, and maintenance.
- Comparison shop for materials if you’re buying your own. Big-box stores are convenient, but lumber yards and fencing suppliers may have better rates and employees who can help make sure you have the right materials for the job.
- Remember that a fence doesn’t necessarily need to be the same height all the way around. A shorter fence at the front of the yard or along a neighbor’s yard, with a taller section at the back or one side, can help you save significantly on material costs.
- Acquire all permits and ask every question you can think of before making a purchase. Permitting errors can result in expensive takedowns and reinstallation if you build too close to a neighbor’s property line, and failing to inquire about permits can be disastrous if you hit a gas or electrical line.
- The warmer months are peak season for fence installation. If hiring a professional to install a fence, it’s advised to schedule your job during the slower season when schedules are likely to be less busy and rates may be lower.
Questions to Ask About Privacy Fence Cost
Because fence installation involves digging into the yard, there is always a possibility of unknown obstacles. Making sure you ask a contractor the correct questions can save you time, money, and frustration.
- Are you licensed and insured? Ask for proof of this before any contract is signed.
- What kind of timeline do you envision for this job?
- Who handles the permits and checks with utility companies? Sometimes this is an area where offering to handle the permits and utility calls yourself can save some money. In some localities where the permitting process is challenging, it may be easier to let the contractor take care of it.
- Is there a warranty on the materials, the installation, or both? If so, for how long? What constitutes a warranty claim, and how do I place a claim?
- Are my property markers present, or do I need to have a survey done?
- Is my yard accessible for your equipment, or do I need permission from neighbors to move equipment through their property?
- What kind of fencing do you install?
- What kind of fence will best meet my needs? Contractors have installed fences in many different locations, and they will have valuable feedback about what will and won’t work in your situation. The fence you’ve envisioned may not be the best one for your yard, and a professional should be able to explain why and make a recommendation.
- What challenges do you foresee in this job? The answers to this question will help you know what to expect in terms of the timeline and potential additional expenses.
- How will unanticipated problems be handled? How much will they add to the total cost? It’s best to know if the estimate in your hand is for the whole job or if additional costs may be added for equipment or materials to deal with problems.
Building a fence presents a great opportunity to add private space to your property, and a well-chosen fence can add appeal and security to your yard. The number of options and considerations can be mind-boggling, however, so here are a few frequently asked questions and their answers to help as you make your decision.
Q. How do I estimate the cost of a fence?
The biggest variables will be the number of linear feet of fencing you’ll need, the height you want the fence to be, and the material you’d like to use. Measure your yard’s perimeter, decide on a style, and then multiply the cost of the fence materials by the number of feet you’ll need. Then consider gates, maintenance, and the cost of installation. Some internet calculators can help you get a feel for the amount based on average material costs, but it’s just as easy to check with suppliers on your own.
Q. What type of fence do I need?
The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking for. For true privacy, a wood stockade or vinyl panel fence will provide the most seclusion and prevent passersby from seeing into your yard at all. Wood or vinyl pickets, aluminum, chain link, and steel fences will provide excellent enclosure of the yard while maintaining an open feel, and combining them with landscaping can create a fine visual barrier. Bamboo, wire, and ranch fencing provide customizable applications, while wrought iron adds beauty and design options. Once you have established the purpose of the fence and the look you want, your budget will help make this decision.
Q. How long does a fence last?
While the longevity of any fence is somewhat dependent on the climate and conditions where you live, a well-installed, well-maintained fence should last between 15 and 20 years. Galvanized chain link can last much longer, while inexpensive softwood fences may only last between seven and 10 years. Proper maintenance makes a huge difference here; even a strong fence will collapse or fail if it doesn’t get an occasional coat of sealant or paint.
Q. How do I maintain my fence?
Different materials require different maintenance levels and schedules. Vinyl fences require nothing more than a wash with soapy water and a soft brush every few months. It’s also important that vinyl fences not be subjected to the heat from gas grills and smokers and that they never be painted. Metal fences need to be protected from rust damage with regular cleanings using soapy water and a brush and occasional reapplication of epoxy or sealant as directed by the manufacturer. Wood fencing requires a bit more: Bleach application and pressure washing will remove any mold that begins to grow, and restaining or resealing must be done every few years. Regardless of the type of fence you have, prompt repairs of any damage are essential: A loose board or tie will quickly lead to other loose boards or sagging sections if not repaired immediately, causing the fence to fail prematurely.