Different Types of Fences: Picking the Right Look for Your Yard

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Your pets must be contained; you don’t want your neighbors kids in your swimming pool; privacy matters; your homeowner’s association requires it: Whatever the impetus, your DFW backyard needs a fence. All fences are simply not created equal, however.

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Your pets must be contained; you don’t want your neighbors kids in your swimming pool; privacy matters; your homeowner’s association requires it: Whatever the impetus, your DFW backyard needs a fence. However, all fences are simply not created equal. Before you decide on a design and hire a contractor, or decide to DIY and head to your neighborhood big box store, consider several different types of fences.

Metal, Wood, or Composite

Your first fencing decision comes down to type: Would you rather have the classic look and feel of wood, the long-lasting durability of metal, or a hybrid of both using composite materials? Beyond those first three options, you must also decide between types of wood, or use a vinyl fencing material that mimics wood but acts like composite. And if you choose metal, your choice further breaks down between the aesthetics and durability of ornamental and the practicality of chain link.

In making this first decision, your choice basically comes down to cost versus look. Composite and vinyl last longer than wood, so they cost more. Ornamental is better looking than chain link, and also costs more. High-end treated wood and ornamental metal are similarly priced.

Fence Design

If you choose to move forward with wood, vinyl, or composite materials, your next decision has to do with buying pre-built panels, using spaced pickets, or going with shadowbox or board-on-board options. Additionally, if your budget allows, you can choose a basketweave arrangement of horizontal boards, or use slip board or split rail layouts reminiscent of farmhouse designs.

A good way to make your determination of layout is to take a drive around your neighborhood — or around a neighborhood you would like to live in — and take notice of what different homeowners have chosen. You’ll be able to observe different stain colors and how varying designs complement home layouts.

To Cap or Not to Cap

The great Shakespearean decision of today’s personal property fencing is whether or not to cap. And this is a decision that concerns both metal and wood fencing. In the realm of wood fencing, a cap provides a smooth upper board that tucks over and around individual slats and creates a refined finished look. In addition to aesthetics, the cap also ensures that rogue slats don’t slip away at the top — and additional bracing at the bottom can ensure the same at that end. For metal fences, capping involves placing decorative finishing pieces on top of each pole, or, similarly to wood, using a top (and sometimes bottom) crosspiece to give a refined finished look.

Capping your fence comes at a premium, and you’ll likely notice its absence among your neighbors because of the extra cost it adds. Before you decide to skip it, however, balance out how its cost may enhance both your curb appeal as well as the overall value of your property now and whenever it may be listed for sale in the future.

Other than initial landscape design and exterior siding, the fence on your DFW home is your most expensive outdoor accoutrement. So your most important decision when it comes down to types of fences is not actually the material or design or finishing touches; rather, it’s to allow yourself enough time to do your research, look around for inspiration, and measure out an appropriate budget to encompass your value, usability, and aesthetic needs.

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Tiffany wasn't born in Texas, but she got here as fast as she could. She and her husband have gained extensive experience buying, selling, renovating and flipping homes in the DFW area. A professional freelance writer, Tiffany enjoys contributing real estate and home improvement articles to the Coldwell Banker site and working with other clients to craft content that's specially designed to generate interest while sharing valuable ideas.

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8 Comments

  1. Tobias Armstrong
    July 5, 2016

    I never knew that capping was such a big deal in fencing. In addition, I had no idea that you could even cap a wood fence. Usually, I’ve seen vinyl capped and I really like the way it looks. I’d be interested to see a capped wood fence just to see what it looks like. It’s good to know it costs a little more, but as usual, you end up getting what you pay for, so it may be worth it. Thanks for taking the time to share your insight!

    Reply
  2. John Mahoney
    March 6, 2017

    Thank you for talking about how there is vinyl that can mimic wood when it comes to fences. I can see that making sure you do your homework can help you make sure you get the best design you can. It makes sense that consulting with a professional can help you make sure you get quality materials and a proper installation.

    Reply
  3. Scott
    March 9, 2017

    I like that you point out that deciding what material to use comes down to cost versus look. I can see why some people might prefer to have the classic look of a wooden fence, while others might want something that is more durable, like metal. My wife and I have been talking about whether to put a fence around our front yard. I’ll have to bring this up the next time we talk about it.

    Reply
  4. Paul Oliver @ Composite Fencing
    March 22, 2017

    Careful which brand of fencing you choose from and make sure its environmental friendly.

    Reply
  5. Finley Moreira
    June 29, 2017

    Your tip to pick a fence based off the neighborhood you’ll be living in is a great idea. It would definitely help me get an idea of what fence types I like, and which ones aren’t my favorite. I’d like to have a fence installed in the next few months, so I’ll be sure to utilize this tip.

    Reply
  6. Hannah Schroeder
    September 22, 2017

    Thanks for mentioning that metal fencing is long-lasting. I want to get something that will keep my two dogs in my yard, but I don’t want it to blow over or warp in the rain. It sounds like a metal fence might be a good fit for my needs.

    Reply
  7. Finley Moreira
    October 16, 2017

    My wife and I are looking at buying a home, but we’ll need to get a fence since we have two large dogs that love being outside. I really appreciated your tip to take a drive in the neighborhood or area we want to live in to get fence design ideas for our future home. We’ll be sure to do this since having a fence that coordinates well with our home and matches nicely is near the top of our list of things we want.

    Reply
  8. Hannah Schroeder
    October 16, 2017

    Thanks for the tip about driving around the neighborhood to see what other homeowners have chosen when it comes to fence design. My husband really likes the look of the classic picket style, but I prefer the wrought iron design. Maybe after we drive around the neighborhood to see what other people have chosen, we could ask a fence contractor’s opinion about which style would be better.

    Reply

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