What's the Best Fence for My Yard?

Homeowners can choose from many different fencing options. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Chad M. of Dallas)

Homeowners can choose from many different fencing options. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Chad M. of Dallas)

An attractive fence can enhance your property, but there are a couple of things to consider before you get started.

Fencing needs and restrictions

Before you set out in search of the perfect fence, decide what your goals are. Do you just want to keep your animals and loved ones in? Or, are you also looking for some privacy? With so many options out there, it is important to establish some objectives. Otherwise, the task of selecting a fence can be daunting.

Before installing the fence, check to make sure your neighborhood doesn’t have any provisions against a particular type of fence. It's also important to consider how the fence you choose will contribute to or hinder the resale value of your home.

Related: How Much Does a New Fence Cost?

Research fence options

Each type of fence has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to cost, maintenance, and functionality. Although a wood fence may be beautiful now, without proper maintenance it will look worn in a few years. Consider all of your options. Also, getting estimates from at least three companies before you make a final decision will help you avoid hidden costs.

The most popular types of fence include:

  • Wrought Iron: These fences are durable and available in a variety of colors, but they are the most expensive fencing option available.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum is growing in popularity as an economical alternative to wrought iron. It can stand up to harsh weather and requires very little maintenance.
  • Wood: Wood fences can be expensive but are great for privacy. If your children play outside, you may want to consider this fence to keep them safe, but be careful if you have small pets, as they may be able to escape under the fence where it meets the ground. Wood requires routine maintenance but can endure harsh weather and last for many years.
  • Vinyl (PVC): Initially more expensive than wood, vinyl fences require very little maintenance and are not susceptible to termites and other pests. However, the color choices are limited and mold growth may become a problem over time.
  • Chain Link: Chain Link is an economical option, but some neighborhoods may have regulations against chain link fencing, so be sure to do your research before you make an expensive mistake. Once you choose chain link fencing, there are a myriad of options to consider, such as height, color, finish coating and the size of the holes.

Fence types
Many options exist for fencing material, depending on your budget. (Graphic by Matt Mukerjee)

Related: 4 Tips for Choosing the Best Fence For Your Yard

Know your limits

Remember, good fences make good neighbors. While it's not legally required, you should discuss any fence building plans with your neighbors before beginning to build.

Although the fence company is responsible for laying the fence on your property, make sure you have an understanding of where the property line is and if you have concerns while the fence is going up, raise them before the installation is complete. If you’re not certain of where your property line is, have a survey done. In one Angie’s List fencing report, a member raves about their new fence, but says they hope the neighbors like it too because they fenced in three feet of the their yard on accident.

Ask the fence company important questions

During the time of the estimate, ask the company who is responsible for pulling the permits and checking utility lines. What kind of warranty do they offer?

Tips before you install a fence

This video explains more about installing a new fence.

Also, there isn’t a “season” for fencing; fencing can be installed year-round. In fact, winter is a great time to schedule your fence installation because companies may not be as busy. Ask the company about their timeline. Depending on the time of year, it could take weeks before they get to you.

Ask the fence company to paint before installation, or if you're doing the finish work, ask them if you can have the materials before the job starts. The paint job will last a long time if you paint each piece of wood after they are cut to length but before they are installed. Painted fences may need to be touched up every year or two.

Your fence will lose its appeal if you don’t maintain it. Check your fence every few months for splintering, peeling, mold, breakage or insects. Be careful with the weed whacker near the fence. Over time, that causes splintering and scratches which breaks the seal and encourages damage.

More: Angie's List Guide to Fences

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on January 9, 2009.


Thanks for the information

We just bought a Dogear cedar fence and the guy who said he would put it in has backed out. We are two fifty two year old women we cant get that in ourselves. We have eleven panels for our back yard!! We bought 4x4 by 8 #2 radius posts. We are staining the panels right now and have only two stained on one side so far. Please someone help us thank you!!

I did not think that it was good to paint the wooden fencing before installation. Shouldn't it be allowed a year or so to acclimate to its surroundings?

Wood fences built with rust free hardware and pressure treated pine require little to no maintenance. They will turn gray if in direct sunlight, but will not rot or be eaten by insects. Painting or staining only adds aesthetics,it doesn't make the wood last longer. Depending on sun exposure, semi-transparent stains need to be reapplied every 3-5 years. Paints last longer because they have more sun fighting pigment.

Invisible fences are not a good option for containing pets. First, they involve use of shock collars, which are inhumane. We don't teach children to stay out of the street using shock collars, nor should we believe that animals are immune to the trauma such collars can cause, physically and mentally. A determined, anxious, or frightened dog will charge through an invisible fence in spite of the pain inflicted. If an invisible fence or a chain are the only options for confining a dog to your property, then you should not get a dog until your living arrangements change. Additionally, aversive training methods have been scientifically discredited, while positive training techniques are in keeping with sound scientific learning principles, certain popular TV shows to the contrary notwithstanding.

The reason you didn't see anything on invisible fences is because that part of the article was invisible.

I echo Reg Smith's comment. Why nothing on invisible pet fences?

It's unbelievable that you didn't discuss invisible fences for pets.

This is a great article. It helped me because my husband and I are looking to put up a fence. Thanks

This was wonderful, thanks for putting together such a great article.

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