When people decide to install a privacy fence, they often think of using wood. In fact, wood is the most commonly used material for fence building. It’s aesthetically appealing, HOA required, and offers that coveted privacy between you and your neighbors. However, what are the real pros and cons of using this material? I interviewed one of our seasoned estimators to find out the answers for you.

There are a decent amount of pros to be had from installing a wood fence. As I mentioned above, privacy is the number one achievable factor that comes at a cheaper cost than if you used a vinyl material such as SimTek. Although chain link is even cheaper than wood, it does not offer the same level of privacy that wood provides. Wood is also visually and physically softer and warmer than chain link or iron fencing, plus is very versatile over various terrains. However, the greatest benefit of using wood lies in the many design options available for your fence, gates, and arbors. For instance, the boards can be installed horizontally or vertically, decorative lattice set across the top, or extra space placed between the boards to match your desired design. Also, since wood is a stainable material, you can paint it any color you want. If you would like to see some examples of previous designs or, if you need a little inspiration, feel free to check out our Fence Specialists website, fencespecialists.com, and Facebook page.

Unfortunately, there are several cons to keep in mind as well. Wood is a temperamental material, which means that it is unpredictable and can split and crack under various weather conditions. Also, wood shrinks about 1/8in – 1/4in as it dries after installation, leaving, occasionally, minor unforeseen gaps in the fence. Gates will also swell in the winter making tightly set doors difficult to open. So be sure to leave a little breathing room between the panels and their latches when your gates are installed. Furthermore, the life span of a wood fence is only 10-20 years, in comparison to a chain link or vinyl privacy fence which lasts about 40-50 years. Unfortunately, as with many products these days, the quality of wood has declined over the years. Therefore, your fence may not last as long as it would have in the past. Plus, remember that lovely option to stain your fence? Your fence will need periodic re-staining and maintenance to keep up that color. However, if you choose not to stain your fence at all, in short order, the fence will become a silver-gray or mossy green/gray color. Lastly, wood is more difficult and labor intensive to repair than chain link. Where chain link can simply weave together with a small new section and look near-flawless, you will need to replace whole panels of wood in order to keep the section from falling apart and looking unified. If you only replace a post here or there, it can actually destabilize the panels.

Wood has its negative and positive qualities, but what it really boils down to is this: what do you want your fence to look like? Do you simply want a fence that functions or a fence that adds some visual warmth and privacy to your property? While it may take extra work, if it’s the option you want, it’s worth the effort.