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A guide to fencing

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A guide to fencing

Whether for privacy, decoration or security, a fence is an important component of any residential landscaping. The installation of any fence is also a home improvement project that requires a significant financial investment, as well as a large time commitment for those looking to do it on their own, which is why it is important to carefully select the material and style for your fence.

If installing a fence is on your to-do list for summer projects, we've put together some of the most common materials used for fences to help you figure out what will meet your needs and budget.

Wood

Easily the most popular option for privacy fences in residential areas largely because it is easy to use, versatile for endless design options and cost-efficient. Wood can also be painted or stained to match a house's exterior. If properly installed and cared for, a wood panel fence will keep your property enclosed for years to come. However, these fences do require annual maintenance, which could be a cumbersome task on a large property. Keep in mind that wood will weather quickly and is prone to rot and warping.

Composite

Made from recycled wood and plastic, composite can be used for any fence design that can be created with wood, but has the advantage of requiring very minimal maintenance and is available in board or fence panels. However, a composite fence will require a much more significant initial cost compared to a wood fence. While similar to vinyl fencing, composite has a natural look that more closely resembles wood. Weather has been known to cause shrinkage and expansion on composite fences, which could be more problematic in areas with extreme temperatures.

Chain link

While it will never be considered the belle of the ball, chain link fencing does provide a quick and economical solution for enclosures. Often referred to as having an "industrial" look, chain link fencing is available with a vinyl coating (most often green or black) to help the  fence blend in with its surroundings. This vinyl coating provides the added benefit of reducing the chances for rust and corrosion. While chain link fences are extremely durable and not often at risk for damage, if you're looking to create a private backyard space that blocks out your neighbours then a chain link fence is not the option for you. Chain link may be useful around a pool enclosure because it allows for visibility from either side.

Vinyl

A popular product to use for decorative or privacy fences because of the limited amount of required maintenance and its durability. Unlike wood, vinyl fencing is not prone to rot, weathering or warping, but these advantages do come at a price tag so if you have a large yard using vinyl fencing could result in a very costly project. Repairs on vinyl fences, while often minimal, can be difficult when needed and may require that an entire section be replaced. Because of its durability, vinyl is often recommended as the material to use for picket fences.

Metal

Often used to achieve a timeless wrought iron look, this material is available in numerous design options, while also providing a great deal of security by being virtually indestructible and difficult to climb. Because of its open visibility from either side of the fence, this material is not suitable for creating privacy but is ideal for pool enclosures and decorative fences in a front yard. Fences formed from iron require a lot of upkeep since they are prone to rust when scratched. Aluminum fences do not rust as easily, but are not nearly as strong as iron and so are at a greater risk of being damaged.

Natural

If you've got the time and energy, creating a natural fence out of hedges or trees can produce an enchanting private enclosure that will add to your existing gardens. This is an undertaking that requires a create amount of effort and maintenance - not to mention acceptance by neighbours, depending on if they are close by and what you select to plant. It is also important to remember that this is not an overnight fencing solution and may take several years to reach a maturity where it serves as an effective enclosure.

By Erin Kelly

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