Wood vs vinyl fencing: which is better? That depends on your particular needs and your personal preferences.
So, honestly, we can’t answer that for you. But what we can and will do is help you discover that answer for yourself.
In the following guide, we explain the disadvantages and the benefits of vinyl fencing and wood fencing. This comparison includes the cost, durability, longevity, maintenance, appearance, and sustainability of both fencing materials. And we conclude with some example scenarios to help you choose which type of fence is best for your yard.
Read through this guide to learn all about the key differences between wood and vinyl fencing.
Concerning durability and longevity, there’s no contest here. Vinyl fencing has a clear advantage over wood in these respects.
As you know, vinyl will never rot, splinter, or get infested by termites or other bugs that seek to devour it. It’s also hard and flexible—5 times stronger and more flexible than wood—so it won’t easily crack.
Also, the weather, even harsh weather, will have little-to-no effect on vinyl fencing. Although, high winds can be a problem for vinyl fences.
Mold can grow on vinyl fencing, as it can on all surfaces. But the mold can’t deeply root itself into vinyl so you can simply wipe it away if this happens.
Conversely, when you test wood fencing on each of these points, the exact opposite is true. That is, wood fencing will splinter, rot, weather, crack, or get deeply invested by damaging mold or termites. Softer/less treated wood (the cheap kind) will wear out faster and need replacing more often.
Average Lifespan of Wood vs Vinyl Fencing
There are steps you can take to weather/bug-proof your wood fence to help it last longer, 20 years maximum. But vinyl fencing will last at least 20 years all on its own without any maintenance from you.
Heck, your vinyl fence can last 100 years if you’re careful. It never rots, remember? Really, as long as no one drives a truck through it, it should last for as long as you’re living in the home.
Besides, many residential fencing services offer a lifetime guarantee on their vinyl fences. But no one would guarantee a wood fence for life when they know it will only last 20 years max.
Wood fencing requires plenty of maintenance in order to last a long time. Every two or three years, you’ll need to reseal it or repaint it to protect it from the elements.
Wood is not as easy to clean as vinyl, either. And you’ll have to replace cracked, warped, or otherwise damaged boards in your wood fence once in a while.
As for vinyl fences, the only maintenance you’ll have to do is to hose it down occasionally to remove dirt buildup.
Vinyl fences are much easier to install than wood fences. The panels are already formed and fitted to the proper shape and size by the time they arrive on your property. They’re also prepped for easy installation, usually with a few hidden screws and minimal labor.
Conversely, wood fence installation requires cutting, drilling, screwing, and more. There are far more panels to install (small, individual boards) compared to the large, wall-shaped panels of vinyl fences.
Regardless, no matter what type of fence you get, it’s best to hire professionals for the installation. Although, there are some DIY vinyl fencing kits that are simple enough for amateurs to install.
Typically, vinyl fencing costs more upfront than wood. That’s mostly because of its durability, longevity, and (sometimes) very long warranty.
In short, you’re charged more for vinyl fencing because it’s a one-time cost. This makes vinyl fencing a better investment for rental properties.
Wood fences, on the other hand, are usually cheaper upfront. But, because of their required maintenance and shorter lifespan, they come with the additional cost of upkeep/frequent replacement. Also, the difficulty of installing wood fences might add to the upfront cost, anyway.
Up till now, our arguments have been largely in favor of vinyl fencing. But here’s one very subjective point that might persuade you to choose wood, anyway.
That is, wood and vinyl fencing clearly do not look the same at all. If you prefer the look of a wood fence, as many people do, then wood fencing is the only option there is.
Still, don’t forget that the initial look of your newly installed wood fence will not last. It will wear and fade over the years and require regular maintenance to keep it looking fresh and new.
Manufacturing softwood fencing is quite sustainable. The trees consumed for this purpose are replanted and they grow back quite quickly.
Softwood fences have the shortest lifespan, though. But you can definitely recycle them whenever that time comes.
Hardwood trees take longer to grow and some are endangered. Thus, they are a less sustainable resource. Fortunately, they last longer than softwood so they aren’t consumed as quickly.
Lastly, vinyl fencing manufacturers may or may not use eco-friendly manufacturing methods. For example, some vinyl fences are made with recycled materials. Check with the manufacturer to know for sure.
Also, it’s not always easy to locate a recycling center that accepts vinyl fencing.
Wood vs Vinyl Fencing: Which Is Better?
In most cases, vinyl fencing is a better investment. That’s especially true for homeowners who plan to inhabit their house indefinitely and for landlords.
But if you prefer the look of wood fencing and are fine with the upkeep and cost, go ahead and choose wood.
Which Type of Fence Is Right For You?
Have you made your decision yet or do you need more time? Either way, keep this wood vs vinyl fencing guide. Refer to it when you need help deciding which type of fence is best for your needs.