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Home Material Choices for Your Fence Idea
Material Choices for Your Fence Idea PDF Print E-mail

Wood usually is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of fences. And we all are familiar with wrought iron and chain link fences. But, there are many other materials to choose from.

Here is a list of possible materials for your fence idea:

Ornamental Metal
Chain Link
Glass and Plastic Panels
Masonry Materials


A wooden fence has a natural warm feeling and is an attractive backdrop for planting beds.

To make your wooden fence idea look more formal, add decorative finials to the posts.Picket fences give a cottage or traditional American feel. Rail fences are great choices for country or rustic looks.

Redwood, cedar and cypress are naturally resistant to decay and insects. Soft woods, such as pine, hemlock, spruce and fir need to be pressure-treated to be decay-resistant.

Pressure-treated lumber is less expensive than the naturally decay-resistant species and it generally lasts 40 years, regardless of climate.


You can achieve a crisp architectural look with plywood.

The thicker the plywood, the greater its strength – and fences take a lot of wear and tear from the elements.

Ornamental Metal

Wrought Iron is a good choice where heavy wear and tear is a consideration; it is ideal for high security settings.

It also is good for historic district homes or if a more aged look is desired. Metal workers can reproduce antique designs in wrought iron.

Because of the nature of this material, it will eventually rust.

Maintenance and cost of this type of fencing will be higher than aluminum look-a-likes. If you have a sloped area, aluminum would be a better choice.

Aluminum has the look of wrought iron. It is lighter in weight, but still very strong, and virtually maintenance-free. Repairs are inexpensive to make and it is easy to install on sloped terrain. It comes with a variety of baked-on paint colors.

Prefabricated fence sections are often made of tubular steel; they are good choices for pool fences. Black is the most common paint color, but you can paint them another color yourself using a rust-resistant paint in spray cans.

Ornamental metal fences look very attractive using posts of another material such as wood, brick, stone or cement.


Made of rigid PVC (polyvinyl chloride), this type of fencing comes in several designs that imitate traditional wood fencing, post and rail fencing, or ornamental metal fencing. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll achieve the same warmth as the real thing.

Although it’s made of essentially the same materials as vinyl siding and vinyl windows, PVC fencing doesn’t have the same ability to weather well.

Most manufacturers will offer a 20-year to lifetime warranty, but be sure to buy from a reputable manufacturer that will be in business for awhile.


Welded and woven mesh can be attached to a wood framework to form an open and attractive fence – especially with vines flowering on it.

This the least expensive type of fencing.

It can be used as a border fence for a country or cottage-style garden. It also functions well to enclose play yards or animal pens and to protect garden areas from small animals.

Chain Link

To relieve the stark metallic look, vinyl-coated chain-link fence is available in several colors. We prefer to use black or green when planning our fence idea, as these colors blend in well with the landscape.

This open type of fencing will serve as a versatile way to keep deer out of your yard – as long as it’s at least 8 feet high. A less expensive alternative, though not as sturdy, is black plastic mesh.


Bamboo fencing provides a great backdrop for Asian, Natural and Tropical gardens.

These fences are usually quick, inexpensive and easy to install.

With a protective coating, these fences can last between 6 and 15 years, depending on the climate.

Glass and Plastic Panels

A glass fence idea and outdoor screens provide a wonderful shelter from wind for patios, decks or swimming pools, without blocking view or sunlight.

In this case, glass is more suitable than plastic (acrylic) panels because of its high resistance to abrasion, but be sure to use tempered safety glass, as ordinary window glass breaks too easily.

Depending on the effect you want, you can use glass or plastic panels that are clear or tinted. You can even get glass that has a UV-protective coating.

Masonry Materials

In general, a barrier made of masonry materials is considered a wall (which is beyond the scope of information in this section).

However, used in conjunction with wood, metal or glass panels, masonry materials such as brick, stucco, cement or stone can be used for attractive posts for your fence idea.

Just as in the days of the first walled gardens, or pairidaezas, in ancient Persia, we continue to seek our own secret paradise (visit our section on how to discover your unique garden style for more information about creating a garden paradise that is your very own).

Those early gardeners understood something that we’re beginning to realize – happiness IS in your own backyard.