The Ultimate Fence Cost Comparison Guide

There are many different types of fencing, and some are better than others. Some are also cheaper than others, and the key is to figure out what price point matches the quality of the fence that you’re looking for. It may be that the cheapest fence you can buy and install may not last more than a few seasons, and it may be that the most expensive fence is absolute overkill. Getting the right fence to match the right job is essential.

But we feel that we’ve solved the problem, and that is through aluminum fencing. With aluminum fencing from Aluminum Fences Direct you get the best of both worlds: you get a fence that will last as long as you own your home, and you’ll get it for an honest, realistic price.

In this article we’re going to look at wood fences, steel fences, vinyl fences, wrought iron fences, and aluminum fences, and we believe that by the end you’ll agree; aluminum fencing is the way to go.

How do I know which fence is right for me?

There are many factors that go into choosing the right fence for you and your property. Aesthetics is a big part of it. You want the fence to look like it fits in with the house and you want the house to send a certain message when people arrive. There’s a big difference between pulling up to a house with a white picket fence vs a vinyl fence vs an aluminum fence.

But this isn’t to say that one aesthetic choice is better than another. For a small traditional cottage, a white wooden picket fence might fit perfectly. For a large ranch house, vinyl could be the way to line the drive up to the front of the house. And for a sophisticated modern house, aluminum would be the way to go. But there’s more that goes into choosing a type of fence than mere aesthetics. Let’s look at a few of them below.

What do you need a fence for?

As Robert Frost wrote in his poem “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in and or walling out?” This is a big factor of why we have fences. We’re either walling something in–pets, kids–or walling something out–wild animals, burglars, ne’er-do-wells. So it is of great importance to determine the purpose of the fence before you settle on a make and model.

For example, there are many kinds of fences that are good at fencing in large dogs, but what about small dogs? Likewise, there are many fences that are good at keeping in toddlers, but not so good at stopping teenagers from hopping the fence (to get either in or out).

So you’ve got decisions to make at this point, and the decisions come down to the narrow spacing of the fence pickets (which will determine what can crawl between the pickets and get in or out) and you’ll need to look at what tops the fence and how high it is (is it high enough to be a deterrent? What if you topped it with spiked finials? Would that be more of a deterrent?)

A vinyl privacy fence, for example, would be excellent at keeping all pets and toddlers inside, as there are no pickets at all, just broad smooth panels. But what do you lose when you go with an all-vinyl privacy fence? There’s a lot of aesthetic reasons (and maintenance reasons) why you might want to pursue something else.

What region do you live in and what kind of weather do you get?

Another question that you need to ask yourself is where you live and what kind of weather do you get, because fences really do feel the brunt of the worst of the weather. Generally speaking, wooden fences do worse in moist environments because of wood rot, which makes the wood splinter, crack and peel, which in turn means that you’re going to be doing a LOT of maintenance on that wood.

At the same time, those big flat-panel vinyl privacy fences are great at keeping the neighbors from looking into your yard, and even from deterring hooligans from eyeing your belongings and hopping the fence to get them. But if you’re in a windy part of the world, then a big broadside of paneling is just asking to be battered down, then swept up in a gust and hurled across the neighborhood.

Steel is a great fencing material which is the strongest fencing material there is on the common market, but it also has to deal with moisture. Steel fences rust, even if they’re powder coated one little chip and they’ll begin to oxidize.

Heat is another factor: vinyl discolors and slowly warps in the sun. Not immediately, and not something you’d notice over the course of weeks, but after you’ve had your vinyl fence up in Phoenix, Arizona, for a couple years you will notice some serious bowing as the vinyl softens and sinks. Likewise, wood is just as reactive to heat, though in a different way. Heat dries out wood, which can lead to cupping and cracking, which means every summer or two you’ll be out in the garden with a sander and a bucket of paint redoing that beautiful wooden picket fence.

The only fence that will react fine to water, wind and heat is aluminum. Water doesn’t bother it: by the very chemical composition of aluminum, it is physically unable of rusting. It can’t do it. Wind blows right past the pickets (as it would with steel as well) and sun does nothing to damage the powder coating on an aluminum fence. Maybe it’ll be hot to the touch in July, but it won’t be in danger.

What is the Most Cost Effective Fencing?

Well, let’s look at some numbers. All of these are average costs per linear foot, including the cost of installation if the work is done by a contractor.

  • Wooden Picket Fence: $10-$14
  • Chain Link Fence: $12-$17
  • Wooden Privacy Fence: $17-$22
  • Vinyl Fence: $14-$32
  • Aluminum Fence: $24-$32
  • Steel Fence: $32-45
  • Wrought Iron Fence: $55+

So let’s talk about these numbers a bit. For starters, the wooden picket fence is the cheapest because, well, the pickets only come up about three feet. You’re using a lot less wood. And wood is cheap. Note that these numbers don’t include the cost of painting and sealing, which a wooden fence, whether it’s the picket fence or the privacy fence, would need.

Chain link is the next least expensive fence, but there’s a reason why chain link is so inexpensive and why we don’t normally talk about it in these discussions: chain link fences don’t look very good. They look cheap. Yes, they don’t need a lot of maintenance (though they can and do rust and discolor) but they’re generally left out of our fence conversations because they do very little to add value to your home, other than perhaps providing some security to the yard.

Vinyl is next, and which we’ve already said has issues. Vinyl looks good for the first few years, but it doesn’t respond well to prolonged sun, and it discolors and sags. And, worst of all, there’s nothing that you can do about a sagging and discolored vinyl fence. You can’t paint it. You can’t prop it up. It just simply has to be replaced (and it’s not biodegradable.)

Aluminum fences are next on the list, and aluminum fences are our chief concern because they are simply the best option for fencing a yard. They look great, which adds value to your home. They protect your home–both keeping children and pets inside and keeping animals and burglars outside. And they require absolutely no maintenance. They withstand sun, moisture, heat, cold, impacts–most anything will be repelled by an aluminum fence.

And do you want to know the secret about the aluminum fence listed above? That price is the INSTALLED price, but with Aluminum Fences Direct we teach you how to do the installation yourself. You can easily knock off quite a bit of money from those price estimates if you realize that you’re going to be installing the aluminum fence yourself and not hiring a contractor.

Steel fences come in next, and they are, without a doubt, good looking fences. They can do everything that an aluminum fence can do both in terms of strength and looks. In fact, steel is stronger than aluminum. But there are two downsides to a steel fence. The first is that steel rusts, so even if you get it powder coated you have to be vigilant that they will not get scuffed up or else you’ll need to reseal the bare steel. And second, they weigh considerably more than aluminum, which means that the cost of transportation and installation is going to be higher.

Finally, wrought iron is the most expensive fence, and we include it only to round out the list. Wrought iron fences these days are used almost exclusively in restoration projects around older homes. It’s rare that a new home will have a wrought iron fence. Besides, iron rusts in a major way, and you’ll be out painting your wrought iron fence more often than you paint your picket fence.


In conclusion, the best fencing option is the aluminum fence. It is durable, relatively inexpensive (especially if you’re doing the installation yourself). They require next to no maintenance, and they will last forever.

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