Most fences are modular, composed of individual fence panels that consist of mesh, boards or chain links held together with two or more rails. While some do-it-yourself homeowners like to build their own panels from scratch, in most cases fencing panels are purchased as prefabricated units. There are as many materials and styles to choose from as there are applications for them — from livestock containment to pool fencing — but for home use, you’ll generally end up choosing some set of metal, wood or vinyl fencing panels.
Wooden fence panels are frequently chosen for front entrances and gardens, but you may want to think twice about whether you actually want to use wood, or simply need the look of wood without the maintenance overhead. Although some woods weather better than others, such as redwood compared to pine, they eventually run into problems with prolonged exposure to the elements – moisture loss or paint chipping from too much sun, or warping from too much rain.
Vinyl fence panels, which are often textured to look like wood, cost a little more up front, but are more economical over time with fewer maintenance headaches. They’re colored in the manufacturing process, thus have no paint to lose. Vinyl fencing also has no moisture to lose, is less attractive to insects, and doesn’t warp.
For metal fences, some homeowners on a limited budget settle too hastily on chain link fencing, assuming that the elegance and sturdiness of wrought iron is out of their reach. While wrought iron fencing is pricey, indeed, consider aluminum fence panels, which have the solid and substantive look of iron while actually being lightweight and economical. Aluminum panels are roughly equivalent in strength to steel fence panels, while being much lighter in weight and less prone to rust.
To have a rough idea of how much your fence is going to cost, you’ll have find out the width and cost of your preferred panel. Fence panels are typically between 5 and 8 feet in width, so you’ll have to determine the number of panels you’ll need by measuring the total footage of the perimeter you plan to enclose, and divide that by the width of your panel. Then you can just figure out the cost of your total fencing job by multiplying the number of panels you need by the per fence panel costs.
To keep costs down, it’s recommended that you stick to vinyl or aluminum fence panels. As mentioned, while some wooden fence panels may be less expensive than vinyl options to start with, the cost of maintaining them over the years, not to mention the time spent doing so, will start to add up. Aluminum fencing will also typically last longer than wooden fencing, so it is a good long term investment. If you prefer a more industrial look, then aluminum fencing panels may be the way to go.