Choosing The Right Fence
Fences provide privacy and security. They’re great for keeping kids and pets safely within the yard, and for keeping intruders out. Or, they can be purely decorative – boosting the curb appeal of your home. Either way, building a fence should increase the resale value of your home.
A fence is typically a big investment, although the price varies widely depending on the type of fence you choose, the size of your yard and your geographic location. On average, expect to pay about $15 to $40 per linear foot, including installation. That works out to anywhere from $2,260 to $6,000 for a fence with 150 linear feet, which is fairly typical for a residential backyard.
Popular Fence Materials
There are a number of options for fencing materials:
- Wood fences are sturdy and naturally beautiful. Choose from many wood types, the most popular being cedar or pressure-treated pine. Wood fences require more maintenance than other types, but they can last for decades with proper care.
- Vinyl fences are sturdy, long lasting and very low maintenance. They never need to be painted; simply wash them once per year. However, vinyl fences are considerably more expensive than wood fences.
- Chain-link fences are the most affordable, but they’re not as attractive as other types of fences. They’re low maintenance, but they don’t provide much privacy. Traditional chain-link fences are hot-dipped galvanized but some modern versions are vinyl coated.
- Wrought-iron fences are extremely sturdy, secure and attractive, but they are also very expensive.
- Aluminum fences are becoming a popular alternative to wrought iron because the look is similar but the price is much lower. They also require little maintenance.
In addition to the material, you’ll also have to decide on style. Do you want a privacy fence, a picket fence or a basic post-and-rail fence? If security is your primary goal, you might want to opt for a tall privacy fence. If the fence is meant to be decorative, a shorter picket fence might be a better choice.
Cost of Fence Installation
Most fence builders quote jobs by the linear foot. All of the price range below include both materials and labor.
- Wood fences usually costs anywhere from $10 to $30 per linear foot, depending on the type of wood. That works out to $1,500 to $4,500 for a backyard with 150 linear feet. Pressure-treated pine falls on the low end of that price range, while cedar falls on the high end.
- Chain-link fences usually cost $8 to $12 per linear foot, or $1,200 to $1,800 for 150 linear feet.
- Aluminum and vinyl fences cost about $25 to $40 per linear foot, which works out to $3,750 to $6,000 for 150 linear feet.
- Wrought-iron fences usually cost $35 to $45 per linear foot, or $5,250 to $6,750 for 150 linear feet.
Accessories such as gates often cost extra – budget about $250 to $1,000 for each basic gate. Decorative features like a scalloped top might add $2 to $3 per liner foot, depending on the type of fence. Removal and haul away of your old fence costs $3 to $6 per linear foot.
Choosing a Fence
Choosing a fence can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you decide which type and style of fence best meets your needs:
- Set a budget before you start shopping. If you know $2,500 is your limit, you can immediately rule out more expensive materials such as vinyl or wrought iron. Don’t even tempt yourself by considering them.
- Think about why you want the fence – the answer will help guide you to a style and design. Looking for privacy and security? You probably want a 6-foot privacy fence, not a 3-foot picket or post-and-rail fence. Looking for something decorative? You probably want to stay away from chain-link fences.
- Consider how much time you can devote to maintenance. Are you working a full-time job while raising three kids? Maybe you won’t have the time to devote to maintaining a wooden fence, which involves regular repainting or re-staining, and sealing. You might be better off with worry-free vinyl.
- Shop around. Once you decide on a type of fence, seek quotes from multiple contractors in your area to compare prices. But never choose on price alone – make sure you do some background research on any company you’re thinking of hiring. Start by checking the company’s track record with the Better Business Bureau.