Aluminum vs Wood Fence: The Complete Comparison

Whether your existing fence needs replacing or you’re looking for a way to define a property line and add some much needed security without breaking the bank, it’s common to decide between an aluminum vs wood fence. Not surprisingly, traditional wood fences are incredibly common. They’re cheap and easy to install, but that’s not the entire picture. 

While it may be possible to set up a wood fence in a day or two, that wood fence has very real maintenance issues that must be evaluated to understand the true total cost. Wood fences are also much less durable and represent a significant reduction in security and protection, especially as they deteriorate over time and allow just about anything through their barriers. 

On the other hand, an aluminum fence may actually be the better choice when it comes to the true cost of ownership, both in a financial sense and in a recurring time commitment. After all, just because you can erect a cheap wood fence today doesn’t mean that it won’t come back to haunt you tomorrow, next season or next year.

Let’s take a look at aluminum vs wood fences and see which one really comes out on top.

The Cost of a Wood Fence vs Aluminum

Regardless of the material you choose for your next fence, the cost to you doesn’t end once you’ve obtained the materials. There’s also labor, how difficult it is to build and install the fence and ongoing costs. To truly evaluate the difference between aluminum vs wood fences, all these extra costs need to be considered. If you also need to purchase tools to fabricate or install the fence, you’ll also want to take that into account.

Unfortunately, wood is right now getting extremely expensive and hard to find. Not only will that significantly raise the price of a wood fence, but you also need to consider maintenance and repairs. Given a long enough time frame, you may have to completely replace that fence once it wears away after a few years.

However, an aluminum fence won’t cost you much of anything once it goes up, which can represent significant savings over a traditional wood fence. Furthermore, once the fence goes in, an aluminum fence doesn’t need to be painted, stained or have boards replaced, which keeps those long-term costs down.

That said, the overall cost of an aluminum vs wood fence is actually rather similar over the long haul. But if you can get a great aluminum fence for the equivalent cost of a wood fence, why wouldn’t you? The aluminum fence requires less maintenance and attention, which helps you save time and eventual replacement down the line.

Aluminum and Wood Fence Maintenance

As we already mentioned, a wood fence has to be meticulously maintained if you want to get more than a year or two out of it. If you live in an area with inclement weather, you may not even make it through the bad seasons before that wood fence starts disintegrating in front of your eyes. Not only does wood warp, rot and chip, but they can also be a haven for pests such as termites and other bugs that could end up jeopardizing your home.

Compared to wood, an aluminum fence is incredibly durable, especially for its light weight. That can make it easier to install, but it’ll also stand the test of time because aluminum can’t rust, rot or disintegrate. Bugs and mold can’t set in, and they also hold their color much better than comparable wood fences. When it’s all said and done, an aluminum vs wood fence is ideal because it needs no extra maintenance, touch-ups or any work at all. Add to that the long life and an aluminum fence is the much better option vs a wood fence.

A wood fence needs to be inspected, cleaned and repainted or re-stained frequently. And if you have no interest in taking care of that fence year after year, you may want to opt for an aluminum fence instead.

Installing a Wood vs Aluminum Fence

In addition to higher maintenance costs, the true cost of a wood fence vs aluminum should also take into account the installation itself. Unless your time is free or you can find someone to work for you at no cost, the price of a given fence does not stop after you buy the materials. 

It’s even more of an issue if you hire a contractor to create a wood fence for you from scratch. Sure, it can be a standard-looking fence, but each wood fence must be built to suit the unique property it sits on, and many things can go wrong with even the simplest of builds.

On the other hand, an aluminum fence will arrive to you in premade panels that are easy to set up and work with. Instead of building a fence plank by plank, an aluminum fence needs only to be attached to each other and stuck in the ground. That can make for a much faster installation with aluminum vs a wood fence, which greatly reduces the installation costs as well as the annoyance of getting that fence up and done.

Additionally, the smaller 2×2 post holes needed for an aluminum fence are easier to manage than the larger 4×4 holes needed for a wooden post, which means less concrete and less dirt removal during the job.

Retain Your Views With an Aluminum Fence

Since an aluminum fence lacks boards that can form a solid barrier like with a wooden fence, they’re also ideal for those that want to retain sight lines out of their property. If you have a great view out back and you don’t necessarily want to cover it all up with a solid wood fence, an aluminum fence is a great option to preserve those views while also preventing unauthorized access. 

That said, it’s not like all wood fences provide a solid barrier against sightlines and privacy. Most have openings that can be easily seen through, making it a poor privacy option if that’s important to you.

The Looks of an Aluminum vs Wood Fence

While most property owners may focus on the functional aspects of a new fence, you can’t deny that a fence has a lot to say about how your property looks. Whether from the outside or the inside, a fence is a large barrier that can disrupt sight lines and give your property a much different feel. 

Sure, most people like the look of a wooden fence, but how that wooden fence looks on day one is hardly what it may look like next season or next year. Without proper maintenance, a wood fence could actually start to detract from your property, and it can also make it difficult to see in and out. Things such as chipping, fading and peeling paint will set in over time, as well as rotting and other damage if you live in a high-precipitation area.

An aluminum fence can give a sophisticated and old-world look that is as timeless as it is classic. In fact, many aluminum fences are designed to look just like wrought iron fences that are incredibly heavy, hard to work with and deteriorate easily over time. An aluminum fence is basically the opposite with no ongoing maintenance issues to worry about. Aluminum can’t rust or corrode, so you could be looking at decades of faithful service with an aluminum fence vs a wood fence.

Is an Aluminum Fence Better Than Wood?

In the debate of aluminum vs wood fences, aluminum is actually the clear winner in most instances. While the total ownership cost may be similar over the lifetime of the fence once you factor in labor, maintenance and other concerns, an aluminum fence requires no extra work once it goes up. Compared to a wooden fence that needs constant attention and maintenance, that can make an aluminum fence a much better option.

Generally, aluminum fences last decades — averaging about 30 years — before needing to be replaced. As mentioned, a wood fence may only last a season or a couple years before needing comprehensive maintenance or replacement. Furthermore, if a couple strong storms come through, that wood fence may end up significantly damaged.

When considering how long an aluminum vs wood fence takes to install, the aluminum fence comes out on top again. Much of the work is actually done for you at the factory, and once you take delivery of your new aluminum fence all that’s left is to line up the panels and anchor them to each other and the ground. A wood fence requires a lot more work along the way, which can dramatically increase your associated costs, not to mention the time it all takes.

Given that costs are equivalent and may even be cheaper with an aluminum fence, it’s truly up to you to make a decision based on maintenance concerns and looks. Sure, there’s nothing quite like a white picket fence, but there are better options if you’re willing to reevaluate what a fence goes best with your needs. 

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