Vinyl fencing. What are your thoughts?

just123meFebruary 8, 2006

I was unclear where to post this, so stuck it here. Sorry if wrong forum.

I am having someone come out and measure for a fence this weekend. I was thinking about a vinyl fence...but really not too many privacy fence options as far as style...but I like that they are easily maintained.

Is anyone familiar with some type coating to coat wood fence with that is comparable to vinyl and you would not need to maintain for maybe 15 years?

I just wondered cost wise, which is the best?

Any experience with either? Thanks!

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The vinyl is beautiful to look at. It still has to be maintained though, since it gets a mildewy look after a while. I am not sure how well, it really holds up. The doctor down the road from us has it around many acres of his property, and he has someone there replacing broken sections many times a year and we dont have a lot of really cold days here. I think I would go for the wood.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 1:47PM
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Wow, that's interesting you say go with the wood. Wouldn't you just have to take a hose and clean mildew?

I was thinking you'd have to stain wood every few years and when you replace a slat, it's not the same color as rest of fence that has aged.

Thanks for your thoughts. ..very interesting. You are giving me something to think on.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 2:41PM
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I try to move with the times, but there is something about a plastic fence that makes me grit my teeth. I like a more natural, variegated look, and cedar is a great material that will last a long time. You don't even have to stain cedar as it weathers to a nice grey. I had two cedar fences at the house I just sold. One was a number of years old when I bought the house in 1974; it wasn't stained and it held up just's still going strong, even though I live in the rainy Pacific NW. It had a little mildew buildup after 40+ years, but that would have been easy to spray with a mildewcide if it had bothered me. The second fence I built myself and stained; it had minimal mildew buildup after many years (stains often have mildewcides in them). I think you will get some mildew on any fence in an area with precipitation. It just depends on whther you like a natural, traditional fence, or something that looks (to me at least) stark, shiny, and unnatural.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Well, I had that concern also. I was telling some friends how I wished the vinyl fences looked more like wood instead of plastic. The styles I have looked at just look so plastic. I was even hoping for a natural color vinyl so it looked more like wood, but it's mostly whites.

I like the idea of just wiping them off though and no maintenance except spraying a hose on to wipe off.

I didn't realize that about cedar wood. I'll have to look that up. Maybe they even have more styles than the vinyl.

I like the maintenace of vinyl, but don't much care for the look as if being in a compound type thing.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 3:55PM
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I am sure it requires more than just a garden hose to clean them, would imagine some type of soloution with bleach in it and then rinse with garden hose. That wouldnt bother me so much as the fact that they seem to break easily. A month or so, there were 4 sections on the frontage that we have to pass that were totally broken and hanging down. A couple days later when I went by, they were repairing them. I have the wood (treated) privacy panels around a 12x24 foot area for my dogs, and its been 3 yrs, and so far, have only had to sweep them down. They are stained.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 7:10PM
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Maybe I'll just go the wood route. I'm glad to hear good things about the wood over vinyl...I do like that look better.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 7:38PM
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The other advantage with wood is that there is no limit to the can have any design you want. And, if it ever needs repair, it's much easier to find a piece of wood than a vinyl component from a company that may have quit making that fence or be out of business.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 2:33PM
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Your are right Kudzu, but what I was thinking is how nice it would be to never have to stain the wood fence. I can't stand to see a fence all brown and weathered looking. I'd have to keep a stain on it. Hopefully I can find one that last at least 4 years on the fence. A guy I work with said he just stained his and it cost him 500.00 to do it himself....the 500.00 was just for supplies. Owie! I do like the wood look more. It's more natural and blends in better with trees, greenery, etc.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 3:23PM
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Just had to chime in. I'm in Florida where there are many vinyl / plastic fences now. Almost every one in our area came down in the hurricanes. The ones that have lasted a while seem to get quite crooked over time. My nephew had one for a bit (required by homeowners association) and hated it - it took a lot of upkeep and was always crooked. In his new house he's installing wood.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 3:47PM
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I think you're overestimating how frequently you need to re-stain and the cost. I built myself a 9' tall cedar fence that was 110' long. The surface area was about 1000 sq.ft. per side, so I needed to cover about 2000 sq ft, which was about 6-7 gallons of stain at a little more than $20 a, maybe $150 total. Because it was new, I gave it two coats...$300 total. I doubt it will need anything more for at least 10 years. For comparison, I'll tell you that I sided my house in a 1979 remodel with tightknot cedar and gave it two coats of stain. Except in a few places where the wind and rain really zapped it, it was remarkably good after 25 years, and I never restained in that time. (Now I know I'm a bad boy for not doing it sooner, but it seemed to be fine.) Here's a picture of the house from 2004 just before I restained it. You can see that a lot of the siding is not protected by any eaves:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 9:11PM
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I've been looking into using trex for a small fence I'm doing. I mean if you can build decks out of it is should be able to hold up as a fence. Also think it gives you more options than vinyl. I came to the same conclusion about vinyl as the rest mentioned here, but in my area wood is so much maintanence even if it is cedar. Due to sun and humidity.

Use the below link and go to fencing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trex

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 1:05PM
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What area do you live in that cedar requires so much maintenance? I'm in Rain City (Seattle area) and that hasn't been an issue for me.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 2:53PM
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I lived in a home for 10 yrs with horizontal shadow box cedar fence that was probably as old as the home, 25 yrs old.
Replaced most of the pine fence posts with pressure treated over the time I lived there but the cedar fencing was fine.. Sometimes sections would get downed in some hurricane winds and screwed/nailed back together easy enough. No stain excpt on a gate and it was the only area that actually grew thick green stuff.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 8:55PM
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Thanks everyone. To be honest at this point, I really don't know which way to go. One time I think vinyl and then I think wood. Both have pros and cons. I'm just going to Home Depot and Lowes and talk and see what they offer and what they have to say. I'm also in hot SC so will have mildew, etc.

Thanks for you links. Kudzu, I love your house. It's awesome and quite impressive.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 8:47PM
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DON'T DO IT! Vinyl fencing, like vinyl siding, will become brittle and damages easily in any sort of weather event. One big hail storm and you'll have lots of fabulous little holes in your fencing. So while you may not have maintenance for 10 years, you'll have to replace the whole darn fence in 10 years.

And a note about the matching issue for wood fencing: the wood will weather in to be the same color, or you can stain it the same color. Either way, it will hold up much better than vinyl. And at least you'll be able to find a replacement that matches (unlike vinyl, which will have changed styles and colors so you won't be able to match a damaged section.)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 8:37AM
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Two years ago we put up new fences all around 4 acres of our property using pressure treated lumber. No close neighbors, so privacy was not an issue, and we chose three rail design & painted all of it white with 2 coats of high quality paint applied with a sprayer while weather was very, very hot, so it dried well between coats.

Flower beds run along the section near the driveway (approx 100')so it gets wet many times during the summer as plants are watered. Soil spatters caused by watering (if any) are simply rinsed off.

It has held up beautifully even with high humidity here Northeast Texas, and we've gotten many compliments.

My nephew's beautiful 2 story home sat on a small hill way back from highway with 900' of vinyl rail fencing around front yard, making it quite a showplace. The fence was soon green with mildew, distracting from the overall beauty of the place. His most dreaded chore was stringing extension cords & hauling power washer that far to do required cleaning every year, but had to be done to keep the place looking nice.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 11:29AM
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We're also going to need to replace our fence this spring - I"m confused about the staining comments. Does the stain actually do anything to protect the wood? Or just to color it? Or are you talking a stain/protective coating blend? Love the look of the cedar, btw, I'm going with that. If you don't want the maintainance of wood, I'd go with the trex stuff or some other composite rather than vinyl - siding is fine but for a fence it just doesn't seem strong enough to hold up

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 2:26PM
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Just curious, is powdercoated steel fencing used in the US? Never heard of vinyl fencing before, though vinyl cladding used to be used to make old houses nicer and lower maintenance.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 10:42PM
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I believe Trex is a sawdust/wood fiber and PVC composite. It has little structural capacity. I would research it carefully before using it in a fence and exposing the cut ends to the weather. I suspect it might be more expensive than wood and not last as long.

Any PVC product is highly dependent on the quality of the plasticizers used to make it and they outgas over time. The PVC fence market, like the PVC siding and window markets, is primarily driven by price rather than features or longevity (which is why there are so few design options) so the quality of most fences is low. Someone probably makes a plastic fence that will tolerate cold weather but I wouldn't waste my time trying to find it or risk my money buying it.

PVC is truly a terrible material. In my lifetime I believe it will be banned from use in the US like it has been elsewhere in the world.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 11:39PM
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So glad to hear the majority here!

the other thing I despise about the plastic fencing is driving at night in what should be a nice picket fence to be shiny plastic - mildew laden to boot!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 11:11PM
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I have a wood picket fence with the 4 x 4 posts every 8 feet. Does anyone know of a way to replace the fence part with vinyl sections and attach to the wood posts if we use the vinyl post covers?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 10:34AM
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I think vinyl fencing looks cheesy and awful, and, well, plastic. Vinyl lattice is worse.

On the one hand in theory it's durable, but in practice it doesn't seem to be. Quite brittle. Vinyl siding is popular where I live, but I find it looks faded and chalky after a while, which then looks cheap and nasty.

My house is metal clad, assume it's aluminium or maybe steel? The colouring has faded and it too is sort of chalky but to me it's almost a patina. I wouldn't go vinyl, anyway. Maybe Hardiplank.

I think the vinyl fencing is too flimsy and prone to damage. As others pointed out, the manufacture of it is quite toxic so we should limit our use of it. I am all in favour of recycled plastic products though, but I think fencing is best out of wood or steel.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 11:54AM
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We have block wall fences covered in stucco here. No wood holds up near the ocean here. Everyone I know who has a wood fence in this area, well it looks awful. When we had wood decks they had to be pressure washed, bleach cleaned and sealed every spring. Otherwise you got mildew, moss and eventully dry rott. One was redwood and the lower deck was cedar. Our new deck is a trex type product. We have a decorative lattice fence that I would really like to change out to vinyl when this one finally rots out which will probably be sometime this summer. The new vinyls (good quality ones) don't go chalky or get mildewy. I have a set of 6 vinyl chairs that I bought about 8 years ago, are always outside without covers, and they look like new. Still shiny white. Although, the seats needs to be cleaned off of dirt.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:58PM
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How should vinyl fencing posts be installed? I have 3 different contractors recommending 3 different ways for the same ActiveYards Dogwood panels (I am in New England):

1. 3' depth, 6 inches of gravel in the bottom of each hole and 160# of concrete per post
2. 3' depth, no gravel, 80lbs concrete, Pressure treated wood block insert 5x5x9" for line posts, & 7' block for gate posts
3. 3' depth, no gravel, 80lbs concrete per post, Aluminum Post Stiffener or galvanized steel insert for gate posts

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 11:01PM
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See this thread re vinyl fencing posts installed

Here is a link that might be useful: Vinyl fence posts - cement or not?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Strange to hear someone say Trex has little structural capacity because it's used, after all, for decking which people walk on, put big old heavy grills on, and in the case of my parents, a good size jacuzzi holding a TON OF WATER! So I'd think a bit of wind on a Trex fence would be ok.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 3:33PM
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