White picket fence around house.

Types Of Yard Fences:12 Styles And Materials To Consider

Katie Ziraldo6-minute read
July 19, 2022

When it comes to fences, there’s no shortage of options. Between picket width, rail length, gates and everything in between, there’s a lot to consider. So how do you choose a fence style and what materials should you use?

In this article, we’ll explore the most common types of yard fences and everything you should know to choose the perfect fence to enclose, line or accent your yard.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Types Of Fences By Material

You might have a clear vision for your fence’s style. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a white picket fence or you’re in desperate need of some privacy from prodding neighbors. But even if you know your ideal fence style, you still need to determine what materials will be used in construction.

To help you choose the best fence for your yard, we’re breaking down fencing materials and the various advantages and disadvantages they come with.

Wood Fence

Wood fencing in yard.

If you’re looking for a versatile material, you can’t go wrong with wood. Wood fencing comes in all shapes and sizes, and if you can’t find the configuration you want, you can always build your own. Wood fences can be purchased as premanufactured panels, which come in 6- or 8-foot sections.

But the true beauty of wood fencing is that it can be painted to create any look you want. Paint plays much nicer with wood than it does with other materials.

The downside of wood, however, is the maintenance. Unlike aluminum or vinyl, wood is an organic material that breaks down over time. And although wood is treated for outdoor use, lumber can and eventually will rot. Wood also expands and contracts with changes in the weather, so fasteners can become loose over time, requiring inexpensive spot fixes. Additional treatments, such as stain or sealant, can prolong the life of your wood fence.

Pros:

  • Versatile look and feel
  • Easily customizable

Cons:

  • Requires more maintenance than other materials
  • Susceptible to termite damage

Vinyl Fence

Vinyl fencing in yard.

Lightweight and durable, vinyl fencing is a great option for a high-end look at an affordable price. A relatively low-maintenance option, vinyl fencing is available in designs that mimic high-end wooden panels.

Vinyl fencing typically comes in white, lending a nice contrast when black hardware is used. Versatility of design isn’t an issue, either. Whether you’re partial to pickets or you clamor for a more closed-slat design, vinyl fencing comes in several options that are aesthetically pleasing no matter your personal style.

But while it’s more durable than wood, vinyl can still become brittle over time. The good news is because vinyl is prefabricated and modular, finding replacement parts and making repairs isn’t as difficult as it may be with other materials.  

Pros:

  • Easy installation process
  • Often available with a lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • More expensive than other fencing materials

Wrought-Iron Fence

Wrought iron fence with bars in garden.

Sleek and stylish, wrought iron is one of the more decorative and expensive fencing options to consider. Due to the durability and design of this fencing material, wrought iron can add a layer of security to your property while also showcasing a distinct style. The fencing can be adorned with ornamental details for further customization.

Though wrought-iron fences will cost more than most of the other materials on this list, they can last for decades with the proper rust prevention.

Pros:

  • Long-lasting material
  • Classic polished style

Cons:

  • Spaced out picket placement won’t provide privacy
  • Most expensive fencing option

Metal Fence

Metal and brick fence outside house.

Metal fences are sturdy, durable and long-lasting. They’re powder coated – a method of painting that covers the metal for a clean and even look.

Aluminum and steel fencing is made by rolling long tubes of metal through a preset die that gives each piece its shape. The thickness of the metal determines the strength of each piece, so the thicker the metal, the harder it’ll be to bend or damage.

Like vinyl fencing, aluminum fencing is largely modular, so upgrading and customizing is a breeze. And with so many options for post caps, rail styles and ornamental choices, you can make your fence as modest or outlandish as you desire.

Pros:

  • Easily customizable
  • Long-lasting material

Cons:

  • Weaker metals like aluminum can dent easily
  • Requires ongoing maintenance

Bamboo Fence

Weave bamboo fencing.

Due to the speed at which it grows, bamboo is a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to wood and vinyl. Whether kept bare or stained, a bamboo fence has the potential to add a unique and exotic look to your yard space.

Unlike other fencing materials, bamboo is durable and can last up to 20 years when properly and regularly sealed. And as an added bonus, bamboo even has the ability to reduce pollution, absorbing carbon dioxide and other toxic gases and improving air quality.

But proper maintenance is key to keeping your bamboo fence looking polished. Without proper sealing, bamboo can be prone to rot in moist environments.

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly option
  • Durable and long-lasting material

Cons:

  • More expensive than other fencing materials
  • Susceptible to rot in wet climates

Composite Fence

Composite fencing in backyard.

If you like the aesthetic of a wood fence but want to avoid wood rot and other tedious maintenance issues, composite might be a good alternative. Often made with recycled materials, composite fencing is a combination of plastic and wood fibers that can be crafted into various shapes, styles and colors.

Due to its makeup, composite fencing is less likely to rot, though it can develop mold if left unclean. Most experts recommend cleaning your composite fence at least twice annually, though fences in certain climates may benefit from more frequent cleaning.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Long-lasting material

Cons:

  • Similar look as wood and vinyl with a higher cost
  • Color may fade overtime

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Types Of Fences By Style

Now that we’ve covered the most popular fencing materials to consider, it’s time to talk style. Your yard’s style is a reflection of your home, and in tandem, your fence is a reflection of your yard.

Let’s get into some of the different fence styles you can try.

Chain Link Fence

Chain link fence in backyard.

Looking for an affordable, practical fence that’s easy to install? The chain link fence is a classic for a reason. Chain link fences add a layer of security, protecting pets and children from wild animals and providing a visual endpoint for your yard. As an added benefit, chain link fences are also relatively maintenance free.

But despite their advantages, chain link fences won’t add much to the yard in terms of personality and style. And if you want privacy from nosy neighbors, this may not be the ideal fencing option.

Picket Fence

Small white picket fence and gate.

Charming and classic, picket fences have been around since the 1800s and are often seen as a symbol of the idealistic suburban life, making them a particularly popular choice if increasing curb appeal is the goal. Picket fences can be constructed with wood or vinyl and are often available for purchase as prefabricated panels.

But although a picket fence has a distinct and comforting style, the fence itself serves little purpose beyond lining the edge of your yard, as widely spaced pickets are not conducive to privacy.

Privacy Fence

Tall wooden privacy fence in backyard.

Looking for more privacy near your property lines? If nosy neighbors are getting you down, a privacy fence may be the perfect solution – allowing you to sit back and relax in your backyard without worrying about what lies beyond the fence.

Popular materials for this type of fence include wood, vinyl and composite. They are available in a variety of colors and styles to fit any aesthetic. Privacy fences also add a level of security to the home due to their height and durability.

Rustic Fence

Rustic wooden fence.

Frequently used on farms and ranches, split post and rail fences can add a certain rustic charm to your yard. With vertical posts fixed into the ground, horizontal rails – most often made of wood – are placed between the posts.

Because of this simple design, rustic fences are relatively easy to build, as they don’t require any screws, nails or fasteners to construct. However, rustic fences may also require additional upkeep and maintenance overtime, especially when made of wood.

Lattice Fence

Close up of black lattice fencing with vines.

Lattice is a highly desirable decorative element available in wood, vinyl and even metal. Lattice fences – or even privacy fences lined with lattice – can completely change the look and feel of your yard space.

Lattice can be a great option if you’re looking for affordability, though due to its style, a true lattice fence will provide little in the way of privacy. But the good news is that lattice fences are often modular and therefore highly customizable, allowing you to incorporate lattice as a decorative element with more secure, private types of fencing if preferred.

Invisible Dog Fence

Dog wearing shock collar and hand holding remote.

If your dog spends time in the yard but a physical fence isn’t allowed in your area or doesn’t fit your home’s aesthetic, an invisible dog fence may be the right way to go. These electric fences are cheaper than some standard fencing options and feature an underground perimeter that connects to a receiver in your dog’s collar.

Though this can be effective for keeping your dog in your yard, it’s important to note that an electric fence won’t keep other animals out. And since this type of fence is electric, power outages can complicate things further.

The Bottom Line

When choosing a type of fence for your property, there’s a lot to consider. Before you make the first call or sink the first shovel, make sure you’re allowed to actually have a fence in your neighborhood. Get estimates and ask around for a reliable contractor and check for any buried lines that could affect construction. After all, there’s nothing worse than accidentally cutting the gas or cable line.

To better prepare for your upcoming fence project, learn about fencing restrictions near property lines.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Katie Ziraldo

Katie Ziraldo is a financial writer and data journalist focused on creating accurate, accessible and educational content for future generations of home buyers. Her portfolio of work also includes The Detroit Free Press and The Huffington Post.