Projects & Inspiration

Wood vs Vinyl - Which is Right for You?

January 15, 2018

Posted by Ashley VanderWall

Wood fence or vinyl fence?

You’ve decided to build a fence.

There are so many fence material options – wood, vinyl, chain link and ornamental metal, to name a few.

How do you know which material is best for your project?

In this post, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of two popular fence building materials – wood and vinyl. The material you choose will depend on budget and personal preferences.


Wood is a very common material used to build fences.

There are many reasons why homeowners choose to build a wood fence:

  • They prefer the look of wood.
    Wood provides a classic fence appearance. It blends in well with trees, flowers and other natural backyard features.
  • Wood can be painted or stained.
    You can customize your wood fence with paint and stain to complement your house, deck or other outdoor features.
  • Wide variety of style options.
    Wood pickets vary in width, thickness and picket-top style. They can also be easily machined and assembled to create unique designs.
  • Installation flexibility.
    You can stick-build with individual pickets and backer rails, offering the flexibility to run a fence along a slope, around a tree and at odd angles.
  • Economical.
    Most wood fences are less expensive than vinyl to install.
  • Repairs are typically simple and inexpensive.
    It’s easy to find and install a single replacement wood picket for a badly damaged or missing one. Wood fences can be easily sanded and refinished to clean up lightly damaged components or create a consistent look across the entire run.

Wood fence also has its downsides, however:

  • A wood fence needs to be regularly maintained.
    While the maintenance isn’t difficult, it can be time consuming. A fence should be cleaned and painted, stained or sealed shortly after it’s installed. After that, we recommend cleaning your fence and reapplying a protective finish every 1-2 years.
  • It’s susceptible to decay and insect attack.
    Depending on the species of wood and whether the wood has been treated, wood fence can be vulnerable to termites and decay. This can cause the fence to eventually fail, especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained.


Vinyl fence has risen in popularity over the years, and for good reason.

It has a variety of features homeowners love:

  • The look.
    Vinyl offers a clean, streamlined appearance in colors that complement exterior trim and siding styles.
  • The low maintenance.
    You need to do very little to maintain a vinyl fence. It never needs to be painted or stained. And if it gets dirty, simply clean it with soap and water.
  • It lasts a long time. Vinyl fence does not decay and it isn’t susceptible to insect attack, so it will last longer than unmaintained organic building materials. Outdoor Essentials fence is covered by a lifetime-limited warranty.
  • It looks the same on both sides.
    Because of the construction design, vinyl fence often look the same on both sides keeping you and your neighbors happy.
  • Installation ease.
    Most vinyl fence panels are easy to assemble because they slide together without the need for glue or individual fasteners.

There are a few downsides to vinyl fence, as well:

  • Higher cost.
    Vinyl fence is typically more expensive than a wood fence to install. That cost can be recouped over the years because you don’t need to spend money on paint or stain to maintain it, but the higher up-front cost is something for homeowners to consider.
  • Repairs can be expensive and more difficult.
    If a vinyl fence does get damaged, sometimes it is as easy as replacing a picket, but you may need to replace a full panel if a single picket isn’t available.

How do you choose the right material?

Now that you have a better understanding of the pros and cons of each material, how do you choose the right one for your project?

Consider these questions:

  1. Which will look best in my yard? Do I want it to blend into the landscape or stand out?
  2. Which material is in my budget?
  3. How much maintenance do I want to undertake?
  4. How long do I plan to live in this house? Will I need to eventually replace the fence?


Outdoor Essentials® offers a comprehensive line of both wood fence and vinyl fence. Check out the options on our website. If you have questions, reach out to us via email or on Facebook.