Vinyl Fence Cost vs. Wood Fence Cost: Which Option Is Best for You?

Knowing the differences between vinyl fence cost vs. wood fence cost can help homeowners choose the fencing material that’s right for their property.

By Katie Flannery | Published Aug 29, 2023 1:56 PM

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Vinyl Fence Cost vs. Wood Fence Cost

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When it comes to selecting the ideal fencing option, many homeowners will choose between vinyl fencing and wood fence panels. Both materials offer distinct advantages and have their own price points. Vinyl fence panels have become very popular in recent years due to their durability and low maintenance requirements. A vinyl fence boasts an appealing look, often resembling a traditional wooden fence. The synthetic nature of vinyl makes it immune to issues that plague wooden fences, such as rot, warping, and insect damage. Because of the longevity of the material, there are higher up-front vinyl fence costs compared to those of a wooden fence. The availability of various styles, including black vinyl fence options, allows homeowners to tailor their fence choice to their preferred design style.

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Wooden fences have a traditional, classic charm and blend seamlessly with the natural outdoor surroundings of a home. The warm and rustic appearance has a timeless appeal that resonates with many homeowners, and a wood fence gate adds an inviting touch while maintaining the privacy and security of the property. The initial cost to build a wood fence is typically less than the cost of a vinyl fence, making it an attractive option for many homeowners, but it’s important to note that wooden fences require regular maintenance to combat weathering and deterioration. Some homeowners prefer to install a privacy fence since this type of fence adds more privacy and seclusion to a backyard space. The cost to install a privacy fence ranges from $1,800 to $8,000, with the national average at $4,300.

Vinyl fence installation can be less labor-intensive when using panels due to the lightweight nature of the material. Wood fence installation can involve working with individual boards of wood, which typically increases labor costs. Both vinyl fence cost and wood fence cost can vary significantly based on factors such as the fence’s height, style, and local pricing differences. Generally, vinyl fence cost per foot tends to be more expensive than wood fence cost per foot, but the initial investment is offset by the reduced maintenance expenses associated with vinyl.

Selecting the best fencing for a rural property often involves considering the purpose of the fence, the terrain, desired aesthetics, and budget. Post and rail fencing or split rail fencing can be a popular choice for rural properties since both provide a rustic look, define boundaries, and are relatively easy to install. The cost to install a split rail fence is between $1,050 and $6,480.

It’s important for homeowners to consider the long-term implications when evaluating vinyl fence cost vs. wood fence cost. While vinyl fencing may have a higher up-front cost, it offers lower maintenance and repair expenditures over time. Wooden fences, although more budget-friendly, may require ongoing costs for maintenance and repairs. Ultimately, the choice between vinyl and wood fencing depends on the needs, budget, and preferences of the homeowner. This guide will examine the differences in vinyl fence cost vs. wood, the maintenance requirements for each fencing option, long-term costs, and more.

1. When it comes to installation, a wood fence typically costs less than a vinyl fence.

Vinyl Fence Cost vs. Wood Fence Cost

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Installation cost is a significant factor for homeowners to consider when comparing wood and vinyl fences. The cost of a wood fence ranges from $1,763 to $4,416, with the national average at $3,065, and a metal-and-wood fence would cost even more. Wooden fences usually have a lower installation cost when compared with the cost of vinyl fences, which typically range from $2,230 to $5,731, or $3,901 on average. This cost difference can be attributed to several factors related to the characteristics of the two materials and the installation process.

Wooden fence panels are typically easier to handle and work with during installation, resulting in reduced labor costs and quicker installation time. Wood fence posts can be easier to set in place compared to the posts needed for vinyl fencing, which often need to be set deeper and with more precision. Slight misalignments in wood fencing aren’t usually noticeable, whereas with vinyl they can be easy to see.

Vinyl fence installation can be more intricate and time-consuming. Vinyl fence panels are generally larger and bulkier than wood panels, which can make handling and positioning them during installation more challenging. The posts for vinyl fences also need to be carefully aligned and set at specific depths to ensure proper stability and appearance, adding to the complexity of the installation process.

Both wood and vinyl fences can add value to a property, but the impact on value can vary depending on a few important factors. Wood fences can contribute to the charm and character of a home, especially if they are well maintained and complement the overall aesthetic of the property. A well-constructed and visually appealing wood fence can enhance the curb appeal of a home, potentially attracting buyers and increasing the property value. Vinyl fences are considered low maintenance and can retain their appearance over time without the need for painting or staining. This durability and ease of upkeep can be appealing to potential home buyers, contributing to the overall value.

While wood fences may have a cost advantage in terms of installation, homeowners will want to consider the long-term fence maintenance and fence repair costs. Wood fences often require more frequent maintenance, such as staining and sealing, to protect them from the elements and to prevent rot, warping, and insect damage. Over time, these costs can add up and potentially narrow the initial cost gap between wood and vinyl fences. Factors such as aesthetic appeal, durability, and maintenance requirements will all need to be taken into account by homeowners when they’re deciding between wood and vinyl fencing.

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2. However, wood fences have a higher long-term cost than vinyl, as they require regular maintenance.

Long-term cost considerations are important for homeowners when they’re deciding between wood and vinyl fencing. While wood fences may have a lower up-front cost, they often incur higher ongoing expenses due to their maintenance requirements. Wooden fences can provide a classic appeal to any property, but their natural composition makes them vulnerable to various environmental factors, such as moisture, sunlight, and temperature changes. Without proper care, wood fences can degrade over time, leading to issues like rot, warping, splitting, and insect infestation. With proper upkeep, a well-maintained wooden fence can last for about 15 years, and in certain cases, its lifespan can extend beyond 20 years. Regular maintenance is essential to extend the lifespan of a wood fence and keep it looking its best. Tasks such as staining, sealing, painting, and replacing damaged boards or sections are all part of owning a wood fence. The cost of maintenance, along with the time and effort involved, can add up over the years, ultimately adding to the long-term expense of a wood fence.

In contrast, vinyl fences are designed to be more durable and low maintenance, and they can last from 10 to 30 years. Vinyl is resistant to many of the problems that affect wood, such as rot, insect damage, and fading due to UV exposure. They do not require painting, staining, or sealing, which significantly reduces ongoing maintenance costs. Occasional cleaning is usually sufficient to keep a vinyl fence looking like new. While vinyl fences have a higher up-front cost, this investment can pay off in the long run due to the savings in maintenance and repairs. Over the years, the difference in the cost to maintain a wood fence versus a vinyl fence can more than offset the initial price difference.

3. Although homeowners will pay more up front to install a vinyl fence, they’ll spend less on maintenance over time than they would for a wood fence.

Homeowners typically spend more by choosing vinyl fence installation, yet they will benefit from reduced maintenance expenses over time. Vinyl fences offer a compelling advantage in terms of long-term financial considerations. While the up-front investment may be more expensive, the durability and low-maintenance nature of vinyl fencing can lead to substantial savings in the years that follow. This cost differential becomes pronounced as the years go by, making vinyl fences an overall financially prudent choice and vinyl fence installation cost a worthwhile investment.

Vinyl fencing is usually resistant to cracking as a result of its durable and flexible nature, although it’s important for homeowners to note that extreme weather conditions or a powerful impact can cause cracking. Vinyl fences are designed to be relatively scratch-resistant, but they can still get scratched under certain conditions. While normal wear and tear is unlikely to cause significant scratching, sharp or abrasive objects could leave marks on the surface of a vinyl fence. This type of damage can vary depending on the quality of the vinyl used to construct the fence.

Vinyl Fence Cost vs. Wood Fence Cost

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4. In addition to regular maintenance, wood fences require more frequent repairs than vinyl fences, which increases the overall cost of ownership.

The cost to repair a fence can vary between $302 and $922, with the national average at $594. This price includes both materials and local labor costs. The total price is influenced by the style and material of the fence, the extent of the damage, the size of the fence, and the specific type of repair that’s needed.

Apart from routine maintenance, wood fences need more frequent repairs compared to their vinyl counterparts, which contributes to a higher overall cost of ownership. A small repair on a wooden fence might only cost about $50, but repairing more significant damage could set a homeowner back as much as $2,300. Regular and consistent maintenance is essential to help a wood fence last longer. Applying a sealant and stain every few years adds an extra layer of protection to keep it in good shape. To prevent water damage, it’s recommended that homeowners direct sprinklers away from the fence and keep plants and bushes trimmed to avoid issues with wood rot and decay. A good cleaning with a pressure washer can help get rid of mold, mildew, and dirt on the surface of the fence, and this can cost between $125 and $235, depending on the size of the fence. When repairs are required, labor usually costs around $50 per hour, but this amount can be higher if the fence is difficult to access or on uneven terrain.

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5. Wood fences are more likely to require repairs during their lifespan, though a vinyl fence panel can be more expensive to replace.

The cost to repair a vinyl or PVC fence runs about $30 per linear foot. While vinyl fences are known for their durability, repairing them can sometimes be complicated. Minor holes or cracks can be fixed by using a DIY vinyl fence repair kit, but more significant damage will need the attention of a professional. Fixing holes and cracks in the material is a common repair, along with replacement of broken posts, rails, or panels. Since vinyl fencing comes in large panels, it may be difficult to repair a small section, and the entire panel may need to be replaced.

Vinyl Fence Cost vs. Wood Fence Cost

Photo: istockphoto.com

6. A wood fence will likely need to be replaced sooner than a vinyl fence, which also increases the long-term costs.

Since wood fences are vulnerable to weather, insects, and decay, this often accelerates the need for replacement. On average, a wood fence will need to be replaced after 10 to 20 years, although some imported hardwoods, such as Brazilian walnut, can last up to 50 years with the proper maintenance and care. When it comes to wood fences, a board-on-board or shadowbox style is often regarded as a long-lasting option. This style features overlapping boards on both sides of the fence, providing better airflow and reducing the potential for moisture accumulation, which can contribute to rotting. Using rot-resistant wood species, such as cedar or redwood, and performing regular maintenance, such as staining and sealing, can further extend the lifespan of a wood fence. The longevity of a wood fence depends on the quality of the materials, installation, and ongoing care.

While all types of fences can be repaired, sometimes a repair is not enough. If it’s time for a fence replacement, fence installation cost can range from $1,743 to $4,431 depending on the fence type, material, length, and more. Hiring one of the best fence companies or local contractors can ensure the fence is properly installed and will stand up to the weather.

7. Ultimately, homeowners will need to decide whether they want to pay more up front for a vinyl fence in exchange for lower maintenance costs, or whether they prefer paying less up front and more over time for a wood fence.

In the end, a homeowner weighing the benefits and drawbacks that come with both wood and vinyl fencing will need to make a choice between the two. Although there’s a larger initial investment for a vinyl fence, which results in reduced maintenance expenses, wood comes with less expensive up-front costs but potentially higher maintenance costs over time.

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