Types of Wood Fences: How to Choose The Right One

A wood fence can make for a great addition to any home. Whether you are looking for improved security or simply to provide better curb appeal, a wood fence can meet that need.

Before you put a wood fence up, it helps to know what different types of wood fencing are available. Choosing the right wood fence can provide the right look, improved safety, better privacy, and more to your property.

Different Types of Wood Fences

When you decide on building a wood fence, making the right choice depends on where it will be used and its purpose. Here are just a few of the most common types of wood fences available, when and where they should be used, pros and cons, and more.

Composite Wood Fence

(Liberty Fence Company)

Not every wood fence is made from 100% wood. Composite fencing is one of those options, a choice that is rising in popularity over the years. Traditional fence panels range from soft to hard, but composite is somewhere in the middle.

Composite fencing is a combination of real wood and plastic, the former being recycled. Implementing real wood creates a more authentic, natural look. The plastic adds more strength and durability to your fence, allowing it to last for a long time.

Whereas traditional wood can rot and become damaged with time, you don’t have to worry about that with a composite fence. Though it is a little more expensive than traditional wood fencing, it is well worth the investment because of its durability and versatility.


  • Longer warranties, generally in the 20-25 year range
  • Very durable, lasting for years
  • Environmentally friendly
  • More color options that can mimic the appearance of true wood


  • Cost can be an issue
  • Posts are required every 6 feet or so, which means greater installation expense and a lot more digging to complete

Where is it best used?

Composite fencing can be used anywhere you want a little bit of privacy. The average 6-foot panels are great for providing boundaries around your property, both from and back, around decks and patios, and so much more. Composite is one of the most versatile fencing options out there.

What will it cost?

The cost can depend on where you go and the type of composite fence you choose. For 6-foot panels, you can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $50 per square foot. Keep in mind that the higher-end panels will be much more durable, meaning you won’t have to repair or replace them for well over a decade.

Vinyl Fencing


Traditional wood fencing can present a few downsides, most notably in terms of wear and tear, rotting, splintering, etc. For that reason, polyvinyl chloride (PVC or Vinyl) can be a great alternative. If you are thinking, “hey, that’s not wood,” you would be partially right.

Though the bulk of the fence is made of plastic, vinyl fencing is typically reinforced with wood or metal. Those using vinyl can avoid things like insect problems and rot while maintaining a higher quality look than other traditional wood can accomplish.


  • Longer warranties ranging from 20 years to lifetime coverage
  • Low maintenance, requiring an occasional wash to look its best
  • Highly durable, lasting for decades at a time
  • Vinyl provides a high-end look


  • Limited color selection with mostly white and shades of beige
  • Doesn’t look the same as traditional wood fencing
  • Despite durability, it can crack and chip with aging

Where is it best used?

Vinyl is a great choice for a privacy fence. Putting it in the backyard is a great option as it provides optimal privacy, especially when utilizing a pool or patio. Because of its height, it has limited uses but can make for great privacy fencing.

What will it cost?

The average vinyl fence will cost anywhere from $12 to $50 per linear foot for a 6-foot panel. The higher the quality, the closer to the high-end that you will be. Keep in mind that a lesser-quality vinyl may be more prone to cracking than something of better quality.

Vertical Board Fence

(Pennington Fence)

Vertical board fencing, though a bit more common, is a great solution for improved security and privacy. It is also quite sturdy because it uses two-by-four stringers in its construction. Even better, you can buy them in pre-built panels to make for easier construction.

This type of fencing, especially when compared to horizontal fencing, can be much more cost-effective and easier to install. Choosing a unique stain can be a good way to improve the overall aesthetic of the fence, as it can be a bit on the “basic” side.

This style of fencing utilizes four-by-four fence posts that have been embedded in concrete. Then horizontal boards, known as the fence stringers, run across the fence’s top and bottom (and sometimes middle). It is important to note that vertical fences are the only ones with stringers.

This is a great option if you are looking for a simple installation and some cost savings when choosing a fence. Though it may not be the kind of fence that stands out in the neighborhood, it can be a beautiful addition to any property.


  • Easy to build
  • Great for properties with uneven ground
  • Wide post span for ideal coverage
  • Comes in pre-made panels for easier construction


  • Requires stringers, which can sag over time
  • A much less distinctive look than horizontal fencing
  • Requires more construction versus horizontal fencing

Where is it best used?

Vertical board fencing is ideal for backyards where improved security and privacy are needed. The height is a bit tall to act as a gate, but it can do that as well. This type of fencing is also great for adding a bit of wind and noise protection.

A vertical board fence can be the ideal solution wherever you want to add privacy and restrict noise through a quick, easy installation.

What will it cost?

On average, a pre-stained piece of 6-foot tall show box panel will run around $30 per linear foot. Of course, that is in redwood, which is one of the most expensive options out there. You can save yourself a lot of money by going with something unfinished and doing the staining on your own.

Louver Fence


Also known as horizontal fencing, louver fencing can make for a great alternative to all of the vertical boards that can be found out there. It can provide a modern rustic look that is also in demand these days.

Because it is a horizontal construction, it doesn’t require fence stringers, which are typically added to vertical fencing to give them greater strength and stability. For that reason, construction can take a little less time, and airflow can be improved, allowing for calm breezes to be had.

It is more modern than the vertical fence but may not be as private as a vertical offering. The louver fence is the way to go if you prefer a cleaner, more modern look. Just keep in mind that costs can be higher because you need better quality wood since less is required in construction.


  • Clean, modern look that is in high demand
  • Less exposure to the board ends, meaning slower wear and tear than vertical boards
  • No need for stringers meaning a smoother construction
  • Improved breezes, perfect for hotter climates


  • Not as private a horizontal fence
  • Much more prone to sagging
  • More posts are required because of the narrow post span
  • No pre-made panels are available, making construction a little more comprehensive

Where is it best used?

Louver fencing is one of the most versatile choices out there. Not only can it be used for traditional fencing purposes, but it can make for a great addition to a deck, patio, or pool area. Wherever it is installed, it adds a unique aesthetic while implementing better airflow than a vertical fence would allow.

Best of all, the Louver fence can complement any area. Today, it is one of the market’s most affordable and versatile fencing types.

What will it cost?

The average piece of redwood open-louver in a 6-foot-tall panel will run in the neighborhood of $21.50 per linear foot. Vertical fencing can be cheaper to install, but it requires more comprehensive construction as a result. The higher cost per piece of Louver is due to the fact that the wood has to be of a higher quality.

Wood Lattice Fencing

(This Old House)

If you are looking to do something a bit different with your fencing, lattice fencing is the way to go. It has a different aesthetic than just about any fencing option. If you want your property to stand out aesthetically, wood lattice is the way to go.

Though it is a bit more expensive than the traditional fencing options, that is with good reason. There is more work involved in lattice wood paneling, lending to the unique aesthetic of it all. The downside is that you give up some privacy as it is basically just a chain link fence made out of wood.

Wood lattice fencing is ideal for those who have a stylistic flair. Even better, they are versatile enough to use plants and vines, allowing you to match the fencing with the rest of the landscaping aesthetic.


  • Totally unique aesthetic different from anything else
  • A higher level of quality than other fence types
  • Versatile. It can be used in just about any situation or setting
  • Very decorative, great for adding plants to compliment the landscaping


  • Less privacy because of the various openings
  • Not as durable as other fence types
  • Much more expensive than other fence types

Where is it best used?

The wood lattice fence can be the perfect fit anywhere you want to add a touch of class and style. Keep in mind that it isn’t ideal for better privacy, but it can add to the aesthetic quality of gardens, decks, pools, and patios.

Any space that could benefit from a little less light and wind while still allowing for both would benefit from wood lattice fencing. The wood lattice can also work with more rustic design aesthetics.

What will it cost?

Wood lattice is more expensive, but for good reason. Consider that the average 4-foot-tall lattice panel, set in white cedar, runs around $59 per linear foot. Still, the investment is clearly in the work done, resulting in a more comprehensive look than any other type of fencing.

Post and Rail Fence

(Peerless Fence)

Post and rail fencing stands out in the complete opposite way that wood lattice fencing does. While the latter is a little more stylistic and comprehensive, the post and rail are quite simple and rustic. Given how in demand the rustic look is, this can make for the perfect option.

Post and rail are simplistic and easy to install. It is as it sounds like: posts lined with a couple of rails. It is not meant to provide security or privacy but to establish clear boundaries on your property. It is ideal for farms that have larger animals, giving them clear boundaries to work from.

Perhaps the best part of a post and rail fence is that it is cost-effective. The average 4-foot-tall panel will run you under $10, meaning that you can install large areas of fencing for relatively cheap. Despite its limitations, post and rail fencing can be the perfect fit for your specific property.


  • Cost is a major selling point, one of the cheapest fencing options around
  • Provides a more open look than other options
  • Rustic aesthetic
  • Easy installation


  • Not meant for privacy
  • Not terribly versatile, working with certain styles and in certain settings
  • Chipping and cracking can occur with time

Where is it best used?

The major downside to this kind of fencing is that it isn’t terribly versatile. To be best used, it is ideal on larger properties, like a farm. It also lends itself to a more rustic aesthetic, so it could clash with a more modern home.

Most importantly, it is best for establishing boundaries. Whether you have animals on your property or simply establish clear boundaries with neighboring properties, this is the kind of fence that can suit that need.

What will it cost?

One of the major benefits of post and rail fence is that it is cheap. The average 4-foot-tall paddock fence in southern yellow pine will run around $8.25 per linear foot. Since it is typically used for larger properties, the lower material price can wind up, resulting in serious savings.

Wood Picket Fence

(Home Depot)

The picket fence is a classic, the embodiment of the “American Dream.” It provides a certain aesthetic that no other type of fencing can match. When you see a home that has a picket fence, it makes the entire property feel more welcoming.

Picket fences are also quite easy to install, meaning you can have your new picket fence up in a matter of no time. They are surprisingly durable and offer options for customization that some of the other types don’t offer.

They aren’t great for privacy, as most panels come in at about 4-feet-tall. If you have pets bigger than a teacup, they won’t add much in terms of keeping them in.

Still, if you are looking for a classic fence to add to your property, you would be hard-pressed to find something better than the picket fence. It is an affordable, easily installed option that can provide a little more security and a whole lot of ambiance.


  • Surprisingly durable
  • Very customizable
  • Inexpensive compared to other fence styles
  • Easy installation


  • Requires regular maintenance to avoid chipping and cracking
  • Not meant for additional privacy
  • Not meant for keeping in bigger dogs

Where is it best used?

The picket fence can work in just about any residential setting. It is the kind of fence that doesn’t do much in the way of privacy but can add an aesthetic quality to wherever you use it. Great for front yards (with a gate), backyards, gardens, around the shed, and more.

What will it cost?

For a 4-foot-tall panel of red cedar pointed top picket fencing, you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $24 per linear foot. There are cheaper options if you go unfinished and stain or paint it yourself. With the latter option, you can implement your own touch of color versus the traditional white finish.

The Components of a Wood Fence

(Outdoor Essential Products)

There is a lot more to a wooden fence than meets the eye. If you are interested in a wooden fence for your property, it helps to know the components that make up the fence itself. The three main components are the posts, backer rails, and pickets, though there are additional components depending on the type of fence you choose.

Posts. Perhaps the most important component of a fence are the posts. Think of the posts as the foundation and backbone of the fence. Posts stand vertically, set into the ground using concrete to provide additional stability and strength.

One of fence installation’s most important aspects involves properly setting fence posts. Generally, fence posts are in the 4×4 range, though the height can depend on the fence’s height. Still, you can’t have the fence without the posts, so choosing the right post is of the utmost importance.

Backer Rails. The backer rails, also known as simply rails or fence stringers, will run from post to post in a horizontal manner. They are connected to the posts using fasteners and will ultimately have the pickets attached to them.

Depending on the style and fence height, you can only have backer rails at the top and bottom or an additional backer in the middle for better stability. Backer rails are traditionally made from 2x lumber, with the length depending on how far apart you space the posts.

Pickets. Also known as boards or slats, pickets then get attached to the backer rails using screws or nails. The pickets are essentially the body of the fence. They are also the most visible portion, which means that choosing the right material is of the utmost importance. They come in a ton of styles, too, like French gothic, flat top, and dog ear.

Pickets also come in different thickness varieties, the most common of which is around 5/8” thick. If you want to go up to 1” thickness, that is considered to be premium, while something in the ½” range is more economical.

The height of the picket can run from 42” to 72”, depending on your choice and need. Sizes are typically labeled with their nominal dimensions, so make sure that you check the actual measurement before you buy them.

Different Wood Types to Consider

(Homes Direct 365)

Yet another consideration to make for your wood fence is the type of wood. No, not the type of wooden fence, but the wood itself. The material is one of the most crucial components of the fence, and making the right choice depends on a few factors.

The important thing to remember is that you can make any choice you want, but the most popular options are redwood, cypress, pine, and cedar. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Cedar. Alongside pine, cedar is one of the most commonly used wood types for fences. This is because it doesn’t require much in the way of maintenance, and it also has a natural insect-repellant within. Insects can cause major damage to wood fencing unless you have the proper protective chemicals involved.

Cedar looks great and has a pleasant odor, two factors that make it a highly desirable choice for wood fences. It is also more expensive than most other options, but you get better quality than you would get with most of the other wood types out there.

Pine. Pine is slightly more common than cedar, and with good reason. The biggest reason to go with pine is that it is the cheapest wood type that you can choose for fencing. Despite its lower cost, it has great durability, meaning your pine fence will be around for the long run.

Pine is also surprisingly soft, which means that it is easier to work with. Even better, it is capable of resisting the shrinkage that can come from using other wood types. It requires a little more work and some staining or painting on your own but can make for a cost-effective investment.

Redwood. Redwood is one of the most visually impressive wood choices out there. It has a unique natural coloring that makes it a popular option. Redwood is also quite popular because it is long-lasting, thanks in part to its insect-resistant qualities.

Though it is similarly priced to cedar, many prefer redwood’s aesthetic. Given its durability and ability to resist insects, redwood can make for a great fence option.

Cypress. This is one of the more popular alternatives to going with cedar. That’s because, like redwood, it possesses insect-resistant chemicals that keep it protected over the long term. Price-wise, it is quite similar to cedar as well, providing a slight upgrade for only a little more.

Despite the similar pricing, a few benefits separate it from cedar. The scent is quite nice, providing a certain aroma that cedar cannot match. There is also the matter of fewer knots, which is quite common for cedar.

The Best Tips for Choosing the Right Fence

(Family Handyman)

So, now that you know about the various fencing options out there, how do you come to the right one for you? Fences can offer improved security, privacy, and aesthetic quality. But you have to make the right choice to fit your property.

Given that each fencing type has unique qualities, here are a few helpful tips to consider before selecting.

Know Your Needs

Don’t make a knee-jerk reaction when choosing a fence. Because there are different purposes based on the different fencing types, you can’t just choose any old type of fencing for your property. Are you looking for better privacy? Maybe you just want something that looks nice. The right fence can even improve the value of your home.

Knowing beforehand why you want the fence is crucial. It can also narrow down your options right from the start, allowing you to find a better fit for those needs. Material type matters, too. Wood is typically the better fit for improved privacy, for instance.

Know More About Wood Fencing

There are a ton of different material types to choose from. Wrought iron, vinyl, chain-link, aluminum, and wood are just the tip of the iceberg. If you are dead set on wood, it is important to know what it brings to the table (and what it takes off of the table).

Wood is quite popular because it is one of the most affordable choices. It is also great for establishing boundaries and creating optimal privacy. There is also something about the “classic look” that wood fencing provides.

That said, it isn’t all roses. Wood fencing requires regular maintenance to prevent chipping, splintering, and cracking. It also has a much shorter lifespan than something like aluminum or vinyl, which can last decades at a time. You will also likely re-paint or re-stain a wood fence to keep it looking its best.

Set Your Budget

Like it or not, budget is one of the most crucial components of any project. The same goes for choosing the right fence for your needs. Remember that fencing material is one of the most important indicators of your project’s cost.

Take the time to choose what kind of fence you want, knowing what your linear footage will be. You can then take the time to compare costs across a number of quotes, giving you a more concise idea of what your budget will look like.

On average, a fence installed by the pros will run around $2,800. That said, it can cost a few hundred dollars or up to $10,000, depending on what kind of installation and material is chosen. Labor is generally the most expensive portion of the installation. Depending on who you hire and where costs can range from $30 to $80 per hour for a professional installation.

Find the Right Pro

While doing things the DIY way may save a few bucks now, consider a few things. For starters, the quality could lack and there will be no one to blame but yourself. With a pro installation, you can at least guarantee the quality of the work done. There is also the matter of time spent; a pro will get things done on an accelerated timeline, whereas a DIY installation can become drawn out.

Should you decide to go the professional route, take the time to vet your options. Get several quotes to find the best price, and check out reviews to see what past customers have to say about their experience.  Having a professional installation done is great, but if you go too cheap, it can wind up costing you.

Check with Your HOA (if applicable)

Those who live in a community with a homeowner’s association (HOA) will have certain rules to adhere to. Depending on your HOA, you may have total control over what kind of fence you can install, or you may have certain regulations.

Save yourself a lot of time and trouble by checking with your HOA first. The last thing you need is to have a new fence installed only to find out that it violates HOA rules and protocols.

The Benefits of Choosing the Right Fence


When you make the right choice of fence, there are some major benefits to be gained. Here are a few of the most notable benefits of having a fence installed.

Improved Privacy

Without a doubt, one of the biggest benefits of having a fence installed is the added privacy. Choosing a fence that doesn’t offer much in the way of spacing between the boards is crucial, so lattice work and horizontal fencing aren’t the most ideal.

The height of your fence can depend on a few things, like the positioning, the slope of the yard, and more. Fences can be adapted to implement a gate or to forego it entirely, leaving room for a path where security is not the utmost concern. Stepped designs are in style now, featuring varying heights that come to a peak in the very middle.

Better Security

After privacy, another major reason to invest in a fence is to improve security on your property. This can come in a few ways. One of the most common ways to improve security is by installing a fence with a gate around the property. Another way is to install a fence around a dangerous area like a pool.

Most importantly, a fence around the boundary can keep the outside world on the outside. Unwanted guests won’t be able to walk up to your door any time they choose with little to no effort. A fence can keep your patio furniture safer and, more importantly, ensure that breaking into your home is a lot more difficult than it would have been otherwise.

Establish Boundary Lines

If you live within close proximity to other neighbors, creating a bit of a boundary between your home and theirs can be important. By having a fence installed, you can create clear boundaries between your yard and theirs.

There is no need to guess where your responsibilities end and theirs begin. The fence will keep things separate, allowing you to care for your yard and yours only without having to see if they have fallen behind on things like mowing and trimming. It also ends any confusion about property lines between neighbors.

Improve Home Value

While those are all important reasons to invest in a fence, there is one that can be more important than the rest: home value. The housing market of late has been crazy, persuading homeowners to sell to take advantage of the higher home values.

Adding a fence to your yard is a great way to boost your home’s value. It can be a great, cost-effective way to improve your property’s security, privacy, and aesthetic, all of which can add to the home’s overall value.