Roger Diez | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011
Fences have been around for thousands of years, and have many uses. Fences keep intruders out, keep pets, children, and livestock in, and provide privacy and security. Whether you live on a small city lot or a big ranch, fences are an important part of your property. You want your fence to be functional, but you also want it to complement your home and surroundings.
Popular fence styles
- Picket fence--a white picket fence evokes nostalgia, reminiscent of Tom Sawyer with a bucket of whitewash. Typically used for a front yard or around a house yard on a larger property.
- Privacy fence--usually used in suburban back yards. Typically constructed of redwood, cedar, spruce, or treated pine, it is usually six or eight feet in height and provides privacy.
- Chain link fence--found in varying heights from three to ten feet, chain link is strong and secure. Commonly used in dog runs and play yards to keep kids and pets safe. A tall chain link fence with razor wire at the top is a formidable barrier against intruders.
- Iron fence--either wrought iron or mild steel, iron fencing is often used as a safety rail around outdoor decks and porches, or as a safety fence to guard a swimming pool.
- Post and rail fence--young Abe Lincoln famously split rails for this type of fence, used to delineate property lines. Found in two-, three-, four- or five-rail styles, it is primarily used on larger properties.
Modern fence materials
Today you can purchase vinyl fencing materials that mimic wood but are virtually maintenance-free. They are available in picket, privacy, post-and-rail, and pool enclosure styles in a variety of colors, and are made in easy-to-assemble panels. Aluminum fencing that mimics wrought iron is also available, and differs from iron in that it is maintenance free--it won't peel, rust, chip or crack.
You can find most types of fences at home improvement stores or Internet sites. Prices vary according to fencing material, style, and height. Some ballpark numbers for wood fences run from around $75 per eight-foot panel for a picket fence to over $250 for a privacy fence. Vinyl fencing will cost one-and-a-half to two times more. Chain link starts at around $6 per linear foot. If you hire a fencing contractor, labor costs will add 30 to 50 percent. Fill out the form on this page to get a quote from a local contractor.