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What Fencing Lasts the Longest?

There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a fence, so you need to think about more than just what fencing lasts the longest. This guide will give you a good idea of the different types out there and will help you to make an informed decision.

In order to decide what fencing lasts the longest, there are multiple factors to consider. You need to look at each type of fencing in its own context, for example, if you are looking for a fence to go in your garden you will have different requirements for if you were looking for a fence to be installed in a local park.

Contents

Because of these different factors, we will be discussing the various types of fencing that are available, their pros and cons and how long they last (because that is why we’re all here!). We will also be going into detail about the factors that impact the longevity of a fence’s lifespan, and how you can extend the life of your fence.  

What Are the Different Types of Fencing?

There are different types of fencing installation that suit different needs and different budgets. To understand what fencing lasts the longest, first we should explore the different options that are available and what their advantages and disadvantages are. You will then be able to decide which type of fence would suit your needs best.

Wood

Arguably, wooden fences are the most common style of fence for gardens. They are aesthetically pleasing and offer you privacy from neighbours. Wood fences also come in a range of colours and styles and can even be painted so you can tailor your fence to your own needs.

There are several pros to installing a wooden fence.

  • As mentioned, privacy is a major plus to having a wooden fence. You cannot see through it, for example compared to a chain link fence, but is cheaper than other options, for example vinyl materials.
  • Wood fences are also visually and physically softer and gives a ‘homier’ feel than other materials. This is because when we think of a home and a garden, our minds automatically picture a wooden fence that keeps you and your family safe and protected from the outside.
  • A major pro to wooden fences is that there are so many design options and choices. For example, you can install the boards horizontally or vertically, you can decorate them with lattices on the top, or can change the design to whatever you want.
  • You can also buy wood paint in a wide variety of colours so your fence can look exactly how you desire. You could even use more than one colour so by having a wooden fence you can create a bespoke design to exactly what you want.

There are also a few cons to wooden fencing too.

  • Wood can be pretty temperamental meaning that it can be unpredictable and split or crack due to different weather conditions. This could leave you with gaps in your fence, meaning that the fence is no longer private due to the small holes.
  • If you end up with gaps in the fence it can leave it looking not as pristine as before and will be an unnecessary expense to fix. You may even need to replace the panel if the gaps get bigger or if you feel that you are unable to cover the gap yourself.
  • Wood is more difficult and requires more labour to repair than other options of fencing if there are minor damages that you may want to fix. If there has been poor weather and your fence deteriorates then you may need to replace whole panels to stop it from falling apart and looking ununified.

Lastly, it should be noted that even though you can paint your fences, it requires maintenance by re-staining and painting to keep the vibrant colour that you desire. This is because weathering will cause the paint to discolour over time.  

Vinyl

Vinyl fences are made from synthetic materials, mainly plastic PCP. Vinyl is referred to as the ‘infrastructure plastic’ because 76% of vinyl is used for building and construction purposes (bestvinyl.com 2017).

The first pro to vinyl fencing is that they are extremely durable and strong.

  • Because vinyl fencing is made from synthetic materials they do not rot, grow fungus or split due to the weather or old age. This is compared to wood, for example which will rot with age and could create splinters which may be dangerous for homes with young children.
  • Vinyl fences are also low maintenance to upkeep. They do not require painting or staining, and their surface does not scratch easily, meaning that there is less of a chance that it will last longer without needed to be replaced.
  • This type of fencing is also easy to clean which is a bonus as if they are at the front of your home then a quick clean will keep the aesthetic appeal of your home to a good standard. They can be cleaned by hosing the panels down and then scrubbing them with a solution of water and soap. 
  • Because vinyl fences are low maintenance and easy to clean, they keep up an attractive appearance. They come in a variety of colours meaning you can decide what suits you best. This also means that they do not need to be painted and eventually repainted as they come in the colour you choose. There is also the choice to have post-caps to decorate each panel which adds a personalised touch to your fence.
  • Vinyl fences are quite simple to install. With the right tools and instructions, even novices can install them. Usually the parts interlock together so then all it needs is to be safely installed into the ground.

There are however several disadvantages to vinyl fencing that should also be considered when thinking about making a purchase.

  • Due to the synthetic materials that vinyl is made from, it is known to expand and contract as temperatures fluctuate. This can make the material more brittle over time which means that it may need to be replaced sooner than originally thought if you live in an area that has a wide range of weather throughout the year.

  • One prime factor to consider, however, is the large investment and cost that vinyl fences are. Not only are they expensive to buy but if you do want additional features such as a more unique colour or the post-caps, this will come at an additional cost.

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is often used to describe iron fences, however, the material itself is no longer available. Most ‘wrought iron’ fences are made from a similar substance known as mild steel which contains similar properties and creates the iron look that is familiar to us all.

To begin with, the first pro to wrought iron fencing is that they are very strong and durable.

  • As wrought iron fencing is made from very strong materials. They are made to last all types of conditions, including extreme weather. While many other materials will deteriorate over time, iron will last far longer, as long as it is well coated and constructed it stays strong.
  • Wrought iron fences have a timeless and aesthetically pleasing look. Iron fences have been around for decades and have never really gone out of style. No matter whether they are placed in front of a modern building, an old-style turn-of-the-century house or a communal park, a wrought iron fence will look pleasing no matter where it is.
  • Another pro to wrought iron fences is that they are secure and safe. Because they are robust, they are hard to penetrate and because of the upright design it is difficult to climb. Wrought iron fences are also usually tall, which adds the extra secure factor that you may desire.

There are cons to be aware of when considering a wrought iron fence.

  • The first is that if the iron is not coated well then it can be prone to rusting. If the fence or coating is slightly cheaper, then weathering and rain will lead to large amounts of rust and could also grow moss spores.
  • If you are on a budget, then you may want to consider other fencing options. Because of the material that wrought iron fences are made from and that they are made to last, this comes at a cost. It may not be worth purchasing a cheaper iron fence as if you are expecting it to last then you may be disappointed when it easily rusts and grows moss as mentioned above.
  • The final con to wrought iron fences is that they are harder to come by availability wise. Because they are costly to manufacture and produce, they are not as widely available as other options such as wood or vinyl.

Chain Link

Chain link fences have also been around for decades and can provide an effective barrier of protection. This type of fencing is not ideal for all situations and may not be appropriate for your needs, so it is important to consider all of the pros and cons before making a purchase.

  • A major profor chain link fences is that they are affordable and are cheaper than all of the other fencing materials that we have discussed here. If you require a large area covered but you are working to a tight budget, then chain link fences may be a good idea as they are a more affordable option.
  • Another pro for chain link fences is that if you want something contained, for example if you want to use this type of fence for a sports area such as a basketball court, then it acts as an effective container. This is because you can get tall chain link fences meaning any balls flying around will not get lost as they will stay contained in the fenced area.

Chain link fences are also low maintenance. In fact, they require little to no maintenance. They may be prone to rusting eventually, however, in general they can be protected by a coating to prevent rusting and deterioration.

A con to chain link fences, however, is the lack of privacy as they do not offer a solid wall of protection from the outside world. If you are looking for a fencing option that will prevent others from seeing in, then you may need to go with a different option.

Along with the lack of privacy comes the lack of security that comes with a chain link fence. If they are small in height, they can be easy to jump or climb. If you are looking for a fence that will definitely protect your family, other options should be considered.

The final con to consider is that chain link fences do not add property value to your home. They are not the most appealing looking option for a fence. People are more attracted to the iron, vinyl and wood fences as they can be in custom colours and designs, however, with a chain link fence what you see is what you get. This is why they are used for sports grounds as they do not need to look appealing, they are used for their function.

How Long Do They Last?

So now we have discussed the different types of materials used for fencing you are probably wondering what fencing lasts the longest. Considering all of their pros and cons we can figure out roughly how long they are going to last.

This is important when thinking of which type of fencing to buy as you want to make sure that your purchase is going to last for as long as possible to be worth the money that you spend. Of course, the longevity of a fence will depend on how well they are maintained, however, there is a general idea of how long each type of fence will last.

So, what fencing lasts the longest then?

Wood

The most common types of wood that are used for fencing are spruce, cedar, and pine. How long it will last depends on the type of wood, how much weathering it experiences and how well it is maintained.

On average, a spruce wood fence may last 4-7 years, a cedar 15-30 and a pine 5-12 years. It may seem that the ranges are quite big, however, how long a fence will last does depend on external factors such as the ones mentioned above.

Vinyl

Because vinyl fences are durable and strong, they do have a long lifespan. As long as you are looking after your fence with a good clean every now and then and it has been installed properly then it could last 20-30 years.

The synthetic materials that they are made from last well compared to other materials such as wood which is more prone to deteriorating over the years due to weathering and other factors that are out of your control.  

Wrought Iron

When thinking about what fencing lasts the longest, wrought iron fences may just be the winner. They are known to last a lifetime or even longer! This is because they are made from extremely strong and durable materials that, if well maintained, will last years and years.


When wrought iron fences are looked after to prevent rusting and damages they can last forever. Think about it… iron fences in parks appear to never change or be replaced. They are made to last. This is why they have a heftier price tag compared to other types of fences. They cost more to make but can last no matter the weather or conditions.  

Chain Link

Considering their price tag, chain link fences do last between 15-20 years. As they can be coated to protect them from rust and weathering, they can last many years. Even though wood fences and chain link fences last for a similar number of years, wood fences are more expensive to replace and actually require more maintenance compared to chain link fences.

What Factors Impact the Longevity of a Fence?

Aside from the material itself that the fence is made from, there are other factors that impact how long a fence will last.

If your fence is in an open area with high wind exposure, the wind will add pressure to the fence which could cause the fence to lean if it not properly anchored to the ground. This has a negative impact on what fencing lasts the longest no matter the material.

A major factor that will impact how long a fence lasts is whether or not they have been coated or sealed to protect the material. We have mentioned this before, however, it is important to reiterate as it can be the difference in your fence lasting a few years or double that. Finding a coating that will protect from discolouration, rust and weathering will increase the lifespan of your fencing. It may be the difference between what fencing lasts the longest and what does not.

How to Extend the Life of Your Fence

The following is a list on things that you can do to extend the life of your fence as when talking about what fencing lasts the longest it is important to know what you can do to help the fence last instead of leaving it to the elements.

  • Watch out for trees and shrubs growing along the fence line. If you notice that there are weeds or unwanted plants growing along your fence you should try to remove or kill them as soon as possible. Any roots growing at the bottom of your fence could have a negative impact on the structure which will impact how long your fence will last for.
  • Clean any leaves and debris away from the bottom of the fence. This is important as not only do unwanted trees and shrubs bring potential risks to the fence structure but leaves and debris could be a potential home for pests. Not only could the pests cause damage your fence but it means that you’ll have some uninvited guests in your garden that could be a danger if you have young children or pets.
  • Conduct regular inspections. Checking your fence over every few months and especially after you’ve had adverse weather conditions will help you to notice any potential problems before they cause serious damage. This means that you can sort the problem quickly which usually will save you money compared to a big problem that has gone unnoticed.
  • Talk to your neighbour if necessary. If your garden shares a fence with your neighbour, then it is worth coordinating with them on any problems with the fence that may affect them too. This means that if there is a problem it can be dealt with quickly, maintaining the lifespan of the fence and saving you money.
  • Have a professional install it. When purchasing a new fence you should consider hiring someone to install it for you. This is because you can guarantee that the job is done correctly and safely which will prolong the lifespan of your fence compared to a job that someone who is a novice has done.

Summary

To summarise, what fencing lasts the longest? There are different factors that will influence this but overall, we would say that wrought iron fences do last the longest. This is because they are made from the strongest and most durable material compared to each other fence material.

If you are purchasing a fence, however, you want to think about each material in terms of what you desire rather than which fence is going to last the longest. For example, if you are looking for a fence that is private, secure and wont’ break the bank then wrought iron will not be the best choice as you can see through the fence and it is rather expensive.

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