blogpost
What is the right fence for your property? Pros and Cons of Fencing Materials
author Anna Sitta, Feb 14, 2018

When it comes to installing a fence on your rental property, there’s no going around it: on the long run, the kind of fencing you choose can make a serious difference on your finances, maintenance needs and most of all, the safety of your tenants and your property. During the past Fall and Winter seasons, KEEPE has been receiving a record number of repair requests from tenants and property managers dealing with weather-damaged and broken fences, which can be an inconvenient and time-consuming expense to take care of.

Being prepared against costly last-minute repairs is possible, and it begins with knowing how to best protect your investment. Different kinds of fencing materials have different maintenance needs, which are fundamental to explore for the purpose of selecting which fencing option really is best suited for both your needs and expectations.

Wood - Wooden fences are a traditional favorite and have historically been an iconic component of American homes everywhere. This is likely due to the fact that wood is a widely available material, and a great number of varieties - especially pine and cedar, two of the most commonly used for fencing - are rather inexpensive. Different cuts, grains, colorations, staining treatments and painting styles make wooden fences very versatile as they are easy to customize to match homes and gardens as desired. The main downside with wooden fencing is the fact that it requires regular maintenance work to both last and look appealing: it can be severely damaged by weather, vegetation and parasites. The best available way of protecting wooden fencing is ensuring that the wood is regularly treated by a professional, who can apply sealants, stains and preservative coatings. A pricier option, “Pressure Treated” (PT) fences, are made with wood that has been thoroughly treated with preservative chemicals when manufactured, and generally come with special warranties. Overall, our experts suggest to avoid letting vegetation to grow on the wood to protect it from excessive moisture, and to have it regularly treated to protect it against parasites, like termites. It’s important to keep in mind that very wet and very hot and dry climates can cause the wood to damage rapidly and crack, warp and splinter.

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Vinyl - A man-made material, Vinyl (also called PVC) does not rot, splinter, crack or warp. The synthetic plastics utilized to craft this kind of fencing are inexpensive, and unlike wood, Vinyl can be manufactured, thus making it so that its standard market price is controlled and not likely to suddenly become more expensive. Another benefit to Vinyl is that it is often made to be extremely easy to install, consisting of lightweight pieces that can be simply snapped together. Vinyl does cost slightly more than wood, but in contrast, it is not so easily damageable and it is not demanding when it comes to maintenance. Manufacturers claim that the only maintenance issue that is likely to affect Vinyl over time is discoloration, but this can be easily resolved by simply re-painting the fence. While those characteristics are certainly appealing, our experts point out that Vinyl is not as strong as wood, and it can easily collapse due to harsh weather or impact. The plastics utilized are cold temperature-sensitive and can become brittle, which is why Vinyl is not ideal for areas where cold and harsh weather is common. One last issue is that the manufacturing processes behind Vinyl production are not very environmentally friendly.

Aluminum - Aluminum is known for its malleability, which is indeed why it is widely utilized to craft decorative and elegant fencing. Also, it is lightweight and easy to clean. Aluminum fencing is generally similarly priced to Vinyl, but it is important to keep in mind that this bargain could be offset by repair costs: Aluminum is delicate, and while they’re fairly easy to repair, our experts find that bends and dents are common. Aluminum is ideal for beautiful decorative fencing, but it is not the best option for privacy and safety as it is not made to provide significant shielding.

Chain-Link - Chain-link is a very simple and inexpensive kind of fencing, making it ideal for very large spaces or pens, especially for pets. Installing chain-link fencing is also simple and fast. Chain-link is not very sturdy and does not offer much privacy, which is why it is not the best choice for residential properties where tenants and/or property managers are wanting a fence that offers protection and privacy. When it comes to maintenance, the thin links of the fence and their junctions are vulnerable to rusting and corrosion. Vinyl coating can extend the life of chain-link, but most people opt for a complete replacement when wear and tear becomes evident.

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Wrought Iron - Wrought iron is made to be durable while looking beautiful. It can be molded to create elegant styles, and the natural strength of the iron makes it a good option for a secure fence that won’t need much maintenance over the years. Wrought iron can develop a patina as it ages and oxidizes, which some find appealing and some do not: if desired, this can be addressed by having a professional restore the iron with appropriate treatments. While wrought iron makes it possible to save money on regular maintenance, in most cases it is the most expensive fencing option available. Installing heavy-duty iron fencing is also a work-intensive project that should be left to a professional. Wrought iron can rust easily in regions where the weather climate is wet. Rust develops where the iron is most worn down, which makes it essential to fix scratches and chips as soon as one notices them.

Brick and Stone - Having a fence built with cement and bricks or stones is going to be one of the much pricier options available for fencing. While those fences are unaffected by weather and most other common sources of tear and wear, they require quite a lengthy and work-intensive installation process, and they can’t be easily modified, making expansions or alterations an issue. Our maintenance professionals point out that opting for brick and stone fencing is a lengthy commitment and a serious investment.