11 Types of Fence Materials Homeowners Should Know About

Greg Spevack

June 2, 2024

Whatever your reason for enclosing your property, whether to keep intruders out or animals in, there’s a fencing material that fits your style and budget.

Homeowners often rely on fences for security and privacy. From the original post-and-rail of the Colonial era to modern molded vinyl styles, there’s a fencing material to suit every fence type – whether that be containing your pets or keeping the neighborhood kids out of your pool.

Before buying a big load of fencing materials at the home improvement big box, contact your local zoning office first to get a sense of the necessary steps and rules on the size and type of fence before you build a fence.

If the proposed fence will be built on a property line you may have to obtain a land survey. If you are part of a homeowner’s association or live in an area that is bound by certain zoning regulations, there could be restrictions on using specific fencing materials and limitations with fence height.

But once you have a building and/or zoning permit the next step is getting estimates from local Tampa fence companies. Keep reading to discover more about the most common types of fence materials and their advantages and disadvantages.

Keep reading to find out what’s the best fencing material for many types of fences. Also, get informed on which fences are low-maintenance.

1. Cedar

Cedar is a popular choice in a wood fence for privacy fencing due to its tight grain, few knots, and attractive red tone. Yet despite its ability to resist the elements and insects, it isn’t as impervious to soil as treated wood and could eventually rot in the years to come.

If you’re planning on installing a cedar privacy fence, it’s a good idea to either mount the posts to a concrete base or attach the cedar planks to treated wood posts. This project is relatively simple for DIYers, and you can switch up the planks for various designs.

Maintenance: Cedar will naturally fade to gray, so regular maintenance is necessary for upkeep. To help preserve the color, seal the outdoor fence after installation and repeat annually. Additionally, some planks in the fence may need replacing from time to time.

Recommended For: People who adore a wooden fence and wish to have numerous options regarding fence finishes and style, as long as they own a sizable budget.

Cedar board on board fence

2. Vinyl

Vinyl fencing (PVC) has been around for some time now, yet it remains to be a newcomer in the scene. In the past, early vinyl products deteriorated quickly and became brittle after just a few years of use. Nevertheless, fencing manufacturers now produce very durable vinyl fences in many sizes and designs. You can get a vinyl picket fence, vinyl rail fencing or a vinyl privacy fence for complete backyard privacy.

Thickness is important when it comes to quality; thicker, “virgin” vinyl will last longest and produce the best results (some products provide a lifetime guarantee). It’s ideal to hire a professional for vinyl fence installation because accuracy and precision are essential for the job; if anything isn’t quite level or even, it will be very noticeable.

Maintenance: Your vinyl fence will remain in good condition with minimal work: use a mild detergent and rinse it off with your garden hose when you notice dirt accumulating. To remove any mold or mildew, apply a bleach and water solution.

Recommended For: People who want a fence for a quick way to increase their curb appeal to look more attractive and those with huge lawns who want a striking, neat design.

vinyl fence in back yard
Backyard vinyl fence.

3. Composite

Composite fencing is made from a combination of wood fiber and plastic polymers, and offers a unique look while being resistant to pests and rot. It is more expensive than vinyl or cedar in terms of materials and installation costs, but it is worth it for its stylish yet robust qualities.

Installation of composite fences, like vinyl fences, must be done by experts. Doing research into the component material quality of various manufacturers is essential for buying from a reputable dealer.

Maintenance: Composite fencing only needs an occasional rinse with water to stay clean and be maintained well.

Recommended For: Ideal for people who want the aesthetic of wood without the upkeep.

composite fence
New installation of composite fence.

4. Redwood

A redwood fence will have a higher upfront cost, but they look great and naturally resist insects, warping, decay, and shrinking caused by weather elements.  Redwood will even be more durable than cedar. These materials are mainly used for small outdoor structures such as fences around pools and spas due to their cost.

Maintenance: Redwood fencing will retain its color with sealer or oil applied regularly. To further enhance the effect, lightly sanding the surface beforehand will remove any damage due to weathering.

Recommended For: People who appreciate wood fencing,  have either a generous budget or a small area to be fenced, and are willing to stain and seal their fence every couple of years would benefit most from redwood fences.

redwood fence
Redwood fence.

5. Wrought Iron

Wrought iron fencing options range from classic to modern and can match any house’s exterior. Wrought iron fences have lasted for centuries due to their great looks and durability. A wrought iron fence adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any home.

Homeowners looking to install a wrought iron fence should consider hiring a metal fence specialist, since these fences are usually custom-made to fit the property and often come with stylish details. Wrought iron fence will be the most expensive per linear foot for materials.

Maintenance: When your wrought iron fence begins to corrode, remember to give it treatment with a brush-on or spray-on rust-inhibiting paint for maintenance.

Recommended For: Homeowners who have a good budget and want a low-maintenance fence that will last them a lifetime.

wrought iron fence
Custom wrought iron fence.

6. Aluminum

Aluminum fences are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their durability, low maintenance, and attractive appearance. They are also resistant to rust and can withstand extreme weather conditions, making them a practical and long-lasting fencing option.

Maintenance: Aluminum fencing requires minimal maintenance and are very easy to care for. They can be easily cleaned with soap and water, and they do not rust so they will require less painting or staining. However, it is important to periodically check for loose or damaged parts and make any necessary repairs to ensure the fence remains in good condition.

Recommended For: Aluminum fences are a popular choice for many homeowners because they are durable, low maintenance, and attractive.  They provide the appearance of an ornamental wrought iron fence at a much lower cost. They are suitable for a variety of settings, including residential, commercial, and industrial properties. 

aluminum fence
Aluminum fence installed as backyard fencing.

7. Pressure Treated Wood

Pressure-treated and chemically treated wood pickets or planks make great fencing material for outdoor structures like fences, gazebos, decks, pergolas, and more. Used as a backyard fence, pressure treated fencing provides a cost effective and durable fence material.

If you’re determined to use treated wood planks for your fence, you’ll have the best chance of avoiding warping by inspecting and choosing planks individually at a lumberyard, or buying complete fence panels.

Often, even when using other types of wood for the fence pickets ground contact pressure-treated wood will be used for the fence posts

Maintenance: To preserve a pressure treated wood fence you must paint or seal the fence on a regular basis. Also, switch out warped pickets when necessary.

Recommended For: Treated wood is recommended for cost sensitive homeowners as a cost-effective way install and customize a fence, as it can be cut into a wide range of styles and painted or stained in a wide variety of colors.

Stockade style privacy fence built using pressure-treated lumber.
Stockade style privacy fence built using pressure-treated lumber.

8. Masonry

Concrete, stucco, brick, block and stone give your home a regal look, but they are expensive and require professional installation. Additionally, due to how heavy they are, these fences require a structure footing deep below the frost line – where winter groundwater is expected to freeze.

Homeowners often combine masonry with materials like wrought iron or wood to install a fence for both aesthetic and financial reasons. Steel reinforcement is needed for concrete and block walls, while brick fences usually have a concrete or block internal portion with a brick outer layer.

Maintenance: As time passes, the mortar joints of stone and brick fences can become loose, so they need to be repointed.

Recommended For: Masonry fences are the best option for establishing permanent property boundaries and creating an attractive appearance. Masonry fences also perform well in areas with lots of traffic and noise.

masonry fence

9. Chain Link

Even though chain link fencing doesn’t offer much in terms of privacy, they are an effective yard fencing to secure pets and small children at a relatively low cost. You will need to check zoning requirements since not all jurisdictions allow chain link fences in all settings. Privacy slats can add privacy to a chain link fence.

Maintenance: Chain link fences can corrode over time, especially where the mesh interlinks. To make it look better and last longer, consider upgrading to vinyl-coated chain link.

Recommended For: Industrial or commercial properties that require security for coverage of extensive linear foot coverage.  Homeowners who need to secure pets and/or children in a backyard. 

chain link fence
Chain link fence installed at sports field.

10. Barbed Wire

This type of fence only serves practical purposes, usually to keep livestock in and predators out. It follows a simple and cost-effective design: five strands of barbed wire are tightly secured between metal T-posts around the property’s perimeter, while heavier wooden or steel posts at the corners can carry the tensions of the wire.

Before you install it, be aware that barbed wire fencing is usually only allowed in rural areas and not in residential communities.

Maintenance: Barbed wire strands need to be retightened periodically as they will cause sagging if livestock press against them.

Recommended For: Places with a rural area where keeping animals in is essential, not worrying about how good it looks.

11. Woven Wire

Woven wire fencing is an affordable, low-maintenance option that effectively keeps wildlife away from your property. It’s often referred to as field fence, and can be added to open

Maintenance: To keep your fence wires taut, use wire tighteners and check them a couple of times a year as part of regular maintenance.

Recommended: Adding onto another fence system (such as split rail) to contain your pets or keep out vermin.

12. Steel Fence

Steel fencing is a popular choice for those looking for a more affordable alternative to wrought iron. Steel fences can be welded together or joined with rivets, and they come in many of the same styles as wrought iron fences.

However, steel fences are heavier and more difficult to install than wrought iron fences, making them a less-than-ideal choice for DIYers. Additionally, while galvanized steel can resist corrosion, steel fences are not rust-proof and will require some maintenance over time.

Maintenance: Steel fences require occasional cleaning and painting to prevent rust.

Recommended: Steel fences are a good choice for security fencing and industrial fencing because they are strong and durable. Steel fences can also be used for residential fencing, such as ornamental fencing for enclosing backyards, pool fences, and gardens because they are very durable.

In conclusion, there are many different types of fence materials available to suit your needs, budget, and all fence styles. Whether you want something that is low maintenance or something with a bit of character, there’s sure to be an option that is perfect for you. Take the time to do some research on the various materials and find the new fence that will provide you with the privacy and protection you need. With a little bit of effort, you can build the fence of your dreams!

Economy Fence Tampa