4 Tips for Choosing the Best Fence for Your Yard
An aluminum fence is a popular choice with homeowners who want to enhance their property's look and value. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jennifer M. of Buffalo, New York)
Homeowners have various fence options to choose from and many things to consider before building a fence. Make sure the fence you pick meets the needs of your home: Is your goal is to keep kids and pets contained, increase privacy or simply boost property value by giving the yard a nice look? You must also take maintenance and cost into account, investigate neighborhood restrictions and make sure you hire the right fencing contractor to install it.
Whether picking between a white picket fence or a wooden privacy fence, carefully consider the type of fence you choose before making an investment, says Keith Pickens, owner of highly rated The Fence Guy in Baltimore, Ohio. A new fence costs between $2,600 and $8,000 on average, depending on the size and type you buy, so you want to make a good decision the first time. Other factors, like your yard's slope, also affect the cost of fence installation.
Highly rated fencing companies recommend the following tips to pick the best fence for your home and family:
1. Pick the best fence for your yard
Homeowners install fences for privacy, visual appeal, or for the safety of pets and children. If done well, fences are one of the key landscaping features that increase property values. Ask yourself why you need a fence and let that answer guide your decision making, Pickens says. Prioritize your needs over your wants, not the other way around, he suggests.
“You might want a privacy fence, but need a picket fence,” he says, adding that he generally cautions against privacy fences, which may affect resale value. “When you go to sell your home, potential buyers are going to be like: ‘What are they hiding in there?’”
If you do need privacy, wooden fences tend to work best, although vinyl fencing is sometimes another viable option, says Jennifer Pechanec, a manager with Chesapeake Custom Builders in Chesapeake, Virginia. However, with certain vinyl fences, panels may be too far apart to provide enough privacy, she says.
Customers who don’t need privacy can turn to an aluminum fence, which gives a yard a classy, open look. In some areas, homeowners associations require aluminum fencing.
As for containment, if you mainly need a fence to protect a pet or a child, no particular type of fence necessarily works best over the other, says Michael Sterrett, owner of Affordable Fence in Bloomington, Indiana.
Just make sure to build the fence with containment in mind. For example, if you want to build a fence to keep a pet confined in your yard, understand what your animal is capable of in terms of digging and jumping, Pickens says.
“The last thing you want is to build a new fence, let your dog out for the first time, and have him jump over it,” he says.
2. Consider fence maintenance
Ask yourself how much time you want to spend maintaining your fence.
Wooden fencing requires the most maintenance because of the fence painting and staining required every couple years, but it can boost your property value by making your yard aesthetically pleasing, Pickens says.
Aluminum or vinyl fencing requires little ongoing upkeep, which makes those fence options appealing to many homeowners, Sterrett says. Wood fences offer the benefit of being more easily repaired than metal, Pickens says. If a storm damages a few boards, you can replace them and make it blend in with the rest of your fencing, he says.
But if you need to replace a section of a vinyl or aluminum fence, you may find the fence manufacturer no longer exists or sells the product, making it hard to find fencing that matches what you already have in your yard, Pickens warns. Sometimes customers end up replacing an entire fence despite isolated damage to only a few sections, he says.
“The bottom line is, if you build a wood fence, it will always easily repairable and replaceable,” Pickens says.
3. Check with your HOA
You may not have a say in the type of fence you can build if a home owner's association governs your neighborhood. Make sure the fence you want meets the organization’s standards for materials and height before moving ahead with a project. Follow community association guidelines and procedures, or risk facing legally enforceable fines.
4. Pick the right fence contractor
Also, make sure the fence contractor will secure all the building permits you may need through your city or county. Your local planning and zoning department can provide you with a plat map of your property, so you can properly designate your property boundaries and better plan the fence's location. Your neighborhood HOA may require that map before approving your fence installation.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that originally posted on Feb. 13, 2014.