5 tips for choosing the best fence for your yard

Aluminum fencing proves popular with homeowners who want to enhance their property's look and value. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jennifer M. of Buffalo, N.Y.)

Aluminum fencing proves popular with homeowners who want to enhance their property's look and value. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jennifer M. of Buffalo, N.Y.)

A fence may seem simple and straightforward — put up a couple posts, nail in a few boards and call it a day. But homeowners have various options to choose from and need to make sure the fence they pick meets the needs of their home, whether to keep kids and pets in the yard, give the home some privacy or simply bump up the property value by giving the yard a nice look. And they’ll want to know how high Fido can jump before you put up a fence to contain him.

Whether picking between white pickets or a privacy fence, make sure to 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 can cost 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. Highly rated fencing companies recommend the following steps to pick the fence that works best for your home.

Compare the cost of four types of fencing materials

Consider your needs

Homeowners install fences for privacy, visual appeal or to keep pets or children in the yard, Pickens says. Ask yourself why you need a fence, and let that answer guide your decision making, he says. Prioritize your needs over your wants, not the other way around, Pickens says. “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, or even vinyl, says Jennifer Pechanec, a manager with Chesapeake Custom Builders in Chesapeake, Va. Although with certain vinyl fences, you don’t get panels as tightly together as you might want for privacy reasons, she says.

Customers who don’t need privacy can turn to aluminum, 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, Ind.

Just make sure to build the fence with containment in mind.

For example, if you want to build a fence to keep a pet in your yard, make sure you understand what your pet 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.

Take upkeep into account

Choosing the best fencing options
Wooden fences require more maintenance, but give your home a visually appealing look. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Adam G. of Los Angeles)

Ask yourself how much time you want to spend maintaining your fence.

Wooden fencing requires the most maintenance because of the staining and painting 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 maintenance, which makes them appealing options to many homeowners, Sterrett says. Wooden fencing offers the benefit of being more easily repaired than metal, Pickens says. If a storm damages a few boards, you can replace them and make them 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 company that manufactured the fence no longer exists or sells the product, making it hard to find fencing that matches what you already have in your yard, he says. Sometimes costumers end up needing to replace 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.

Check with your homeowners association

You may not have a say in the type of fence you can buy if an HOA 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 or risk facing legally enforceable fines.

Related: How much power do homeowners associations have over your property

Pick the right contractor

You can try to install a fence on your own, but the process requires specialized tools and hard labor. Consider hiring a professional, but first, check the company’s licensing status and references. Also, make sure they’ll help get all the permits you may need to build the fence.


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