From classic wood iterations to aluminum ones and more, experts share their advice for selecting the right style for your home and your needs.

By Caroline Biggs
January 25, 2021
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blue hydrangeas growing through white picket fence
Credit: Olenaa / Getty Images

A well-designed fence provides more than just privacy to a homeowner—it can supply a sense of security, too. "While benefits can vary greatly depending on the type of fence, most outdoor fences will help protect your backyard and garden from unwanted animal or rodents, as well as heavy winds," says Hunter MacFarlane, project expert at Lowe's. Along with safeguarding your yard, fences are also a great way to add visual interest to the outside of your home. "Fences offer a lot of opportunity for personalization," MacFarlane explains. "You can design your outdoor enclosure to coordinate with the aesthetics of your home's exterior."

Not sure what type of fence will best suit your unique needs and personal taste? We asked a few experts to weigh in on the most popular fence styles and what to look for when shopping for them.

Wood Fencing

If you're in search of a simple fence that won't cost an arm and a leg, consider a traditional wood fence. "Wood fences are generally less expensive than other styles, and you can easily customize them with stain or paint," says Jack Witlin of Fence City. "Since wood is a natural material, it can blend in nicely with a landscape, providing a subtle backdrop for your garden or yard."

Based on your needs and preferences, MacFarlane says there are several types of wood fences you can choose from including wood panel, picket, and split-rail fencing. "Wood panel fencing works best for areas where privacy or containing a pet is key, as panels are side-by-side or just slightly spaced for partial views," he explains. "Picket fencing provides slightly more curb appeal and is best for large pets, as smaller ones may be able to slip through the wider gaps, and split-rail fencing provides a more rustic look, and is best to indicate property separation or to define a specific area of your yard."

Vinyl Fencing

For an attractive, low-maintenance outdoor fence, MacFarlane says to consider vinyl fencing. "Outside of the occasional rinse, vinyl fencing requires little upkeep and typically doesn't fade or rot over time," he explains. "You can find vinyl fencing styles similar to wood panel, picket, and rail fencing, and like wood fencing, it's also available in solid panels to create boundaries and privacy, or shadowbox panels that create visual interest and durability."

And though vinyl fences are designed to last for years, Witlin says that their plastic composition can sometimes cause the joints in the fencing to expand and contract in temperature extremes. "Our solution is using heavy-duty stainless steel adjustable hinges and latches that allow us to make adjustments depending on the time of year," he says.

Aluminum Fencing

If you're looking for an eye-catching fence that's easy-to-care-for and long-lasting, MacFarlane recommends aluminum fencing. "Aluminum fencing is durable and requires minimal maintenance, while still giving you the formal appearance of wrought iron," he explains. "Aluminum fences are also relatively easy to assemble, in that it doesn't require digging (from $16, lowes.com), so you don't have to worry about tearing up your yard during installation. With this process, you will just need to drive an anchor into the ground and attach the fence post."

Additionally, Jen Dewar, fencing merchant at The Home Depot says that aluminum fencing is a great option for keeping kids and pets contained in a yard without taking away from the view. "Metal fences typically have openings between the different poles, making it hard for animals to enter or leave your property while providing minimal disruption to your sightlines," she says.

Wrought Iron Fencing

For a pricier alternative to aluminum, MacFarlane says decorative wrought iron fences are extremely sturdy and require relatively little maintenance. "Wrought iron is a great option if curb appeal is high on your list for installing a fence, as it has a timeless look and can add a lot of character to your yard," he says. "However, it's important to periodically check a wrought iron fence for signs of rust, which can be mitigated by cleaning rust spots as soon as you see them."

Bamboo Fencing

Affordable and easy-to-install, MacFarlane says bamboo fencing can bring a distinctive look to a landscape, while providing more privacy than other fences. "Similar to wood fencing, there is no spacing between panels," he explains. Bamboo is also an eco-friendly fence material. "Bamboo is the fastest growing wood plant in the world, with over 1,000 different species," Dewar says. "Bamboo stock has the equivalent strength of many alloys of steel and is a strong, durable, and sustainable option for outdoor fencing."

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