first photo of white beautiful fence
by Cedar Rustic Fence Co.

Vinyl vs. Wood Fence: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing the ideal fence for your property takes careful consideration. Two classic options, vinyl and wood, each have their own distinct pros and cons. Understanding these differences is key to making an informed decision. Let's dive into a comprehensive comparison of vinyl and wood fences, covering aspects like durability, appearance, maintenance needs, cost, installation, lifespan, environmental impact, and what best suits individual homeowner preferences.


A fence is an investment, and you want it to stand the test of time. Durability is vital for weathering the elements and providing reliable protection for your property.

Vinyl Fence Durability

Vinyl fences have earned a reputation for their remarkable durability. Constructed from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), they are highly resistant to rotting, warping, and damage from insects. They also handle impacts well, making them an excellent choice for areas with unpredictable or harsh weather conditions. With proper installation and minimal upkeep, a vinyl fence can look fantastic for decades.

Cedar Fence Durability

Wood fences, especially those crafted from high-quality materials like western red cedar or northern white cedar can also offer good durability. Regular staining will preserve the color of the fence, but sealing isn’t necessary to safeguard the wood from moisture, rot, and insect infestations. A cedar fence can potentially last for 15-30 years or even longer with little to no maintenance.


Your fence plays a major role in your home's overall curb appeal, so aesthetics definitely matter! Both vinyl and wood offer a range of styles to fit your tastes.

Vinyl Fence Appearance

Don't underestimate vinyl's versatility! It's come a long way, now available in a wide array of colors, styles, and textures – some even mimic the look of wood remarkably well. Whether you prefer classic white, modern grays or tans, or desire that natural woodgrain texture, vinyl has options for you.

Wood Fence Appearance

Wood fences are beloved for their timeless beauty and warmth. The natural variations in wood grain and color make each fence unique. And, wood takes stain or paint beautifully, letting you perfectly complement your home's exterior. Rustic split-rail designs, elegant privacy fences... wood offers them all.


Upkeep is essential to ensure your fence not only lasts a long time but also maintains its good looks. Let's delve into the differences between vinyl and wood maintenance requirements:

Vinyl Fence Maintenance

One of the biggest perks of vinyl fencing is its minimal maintenance needs. To keep your vinyl fence looking its best, a simple rinse with the garden hose to remove dirt and debris is usually all it takes. For more stubborn stains or mildew, a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush will do the trick. Should any damage occur, vinyl fences repairs tend to be straightforward, with many manufacturers offering readily available replacement parts.

Wood Fence Maintenance

Wood fences are beautiful, and don’t require much maintenance. Regular power washing can be done if you’re looking to stain the fence to preserve its color. If you choose a painted wood fence, be prepared for periodic repainting to keep it looking fresh. And, always replace damaged or rotted boards promptly to prevent further deterioration and maintain the fence's structural integrity.

Maintenance Task Vinyl Fence Wood Fence
Cleaning Occasional rinse with hose or mild detergent Not Required
Staining/Sealing Not required Not required
Painting Not required (Painting will void the warranty) Not required (May need to be primed and painted every 3-5 years)
Repairs Infrequent, easy-to-replace damaged parts More frequent, may need to replace rotted or damaged boards
Frequency Low, typically once a year or as needed Medium, occasional tasks required every few years


The cost of a fence extends far beyond the day it's installed. It's vital for homeowners to factor in long-term expenses when choosing a material.

Vinyl Fence Cost

Yes, vinyl typically has a higher upfront price than wood, averaging $25-$55 per linear foot with installation included. However, its exceptionally low maintenance needs and impressive lifespan help balance that out. You'll save significantly on staining, sealing, and repairs over the years.

Wood Fence Cost

Wood is the budget-friendly choice, averaging $20 to $45 per linear foot installed. It requires little to no maintenance, unless you want to stain it to maintain a certain color. Overall, wood is a great way to keep costs down, maintain a beautiful aesthetic, and protect your home.


Installing a fence can be quite a project, with the difficulty varying based on material and your chosen design.

Vinyl Fence Installation

Vinyl panels come pre-assembled, significantly reducing the time and labor involved. The most important part is ensuring the fence posts are set correctly and perfectly plumb. After that, attaching the panels follows the manufacturer's straightforward instructions. Vinyl is not as easily customizable as wood.

Wood Fence Installation

Wood fence installation offers two construction methods:

  • Stick Build You set the posts, attach the cross rails (2x4’s), and then nail the pickets onto the cross rails. This method is labor-intensive in the field but allows for a high degree of customization.
  • Panel Build You set the posts and then attach finished sections or fence panels to the posts. This method is less labor-intensive in the field and offers more variety in fence patterns you can construct.


Choosing a fence means choosing how long you want to enjoy it without major replacements or repairs. Let's see how vinyl and wood stack up in terms of longevity:

Vinyl Fence Lifespan

Vinyl is a champion of durability. If installed correctly and given basic care, a vinyl privacy fence can easily remain in excellent condition for over 20 years. Most reputable vinyl fence manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the fence material. It's important to read the fine print, as some warranties cover the expected lifetime of the fence, which could be 20 years, while others cover the lifetime of the original purchaser as long as they still own the property. Its tough PVC construction shrugs off fading, weather damage, and everyday wear and tear. Even after many years of sun and rain, a vinyl fence often looks remarkably close to how it did when new.

Wood Fence Lifespan

The lifespan of a wood fence is more variable, depending on the type of wood, how well it's installed, and the level of care it receives. Generally, a well-maintained wood fence can provide a good decade or more of service. However, neglecting staining, sealing, and repairs invites trouble. Moisture, harsh sunlight, and insects can rapidly degrade a wood fence, shortening its lifespan.

Homeowner Preferences

The best fence is the one that perfectly aligns with your priorities. Let's consider what might drive a homeowner toward vinyl or wood:

Vinyl Fence Preferences

If you crave minimal upkeep and want your fence to look good for decades, vinyl is a compelling choice. Its resistance to the elements and lack of painting or staining needs are major draws. The wide array of vinyl colors and styles makes finding a perfect match for your home's aesthetic easy.

Wood Fence Preferences

Nothing beats the timeless charm and natural beauty of wood. Its warmth and character add instant appeal. Wood also offers fantastic customization potential – stains, paints, and the ability to modify the design to suit homeowners who like putting their personal stamp on their property. If you enjoy the satisfaction of DIY projects, wood fences are more readily repairable or modifiable than vinyl.

Conclusion: Finding Your Ideal Fence

Deciding between vinyl and wood takes careful thought. Consider durability, looks, maintenance requirements, cost, installation complexity, lifespan, and most importantly, your own preferences. Understanding the pros and cons of each material empowers you to make the right choice for your needs. 

If you're in the Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana area and need help making this decision, Cedar Rustic Fence Co. is here for you! With almost a century of experience, we're committed to customer satisfaction and helping you find the perfect fence. 

Whether you lean towards the practicality of vinyl or the classic beauty of wood, our expertise can guide you towards your dream outdoor space. Contact us today for your free consultation and get started on your fencing project!

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Need help making a decision? Contact us today and let's explore your options.

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Cedar Rustic Fence Co.


We are Cedar Rustic Fence Company ;) Nailing expertise in fencing for nearly a century. We've seen it all, from picket perfection to backyard beast-proofing. Your fence needs are in good hands.

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