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How much does a fence cost?

There are a lot of reasons to put up a fence. Whether you're trying to keep something out (animals, nosey neighbors), or keep some things in (kids, pets, your privacy) a fence is a straightforward solution to many of these common problems. But once you've decided on installing a fence, the question quickly becomes: how much does a fence really cost? The average cost of a fence varies and is reliant on a lot of different factors.

The cost of the fence is going to rely on aspects such as what material you decide to build with, as well as how long and how high you want it to be. The nicer the material, and the bigger the fence, the higher the final price tag. Other factors that may affect cost could be the method of fence installation and labor costs.

But at the end of the day, the final cost per linear foot will come down to two main factors. How much fencing do you need? And, what are you using to build that fencing, (material costs)? Depending on these factors, you could find yourself paying as little as $5 per linear foot, or as much as $25 per linear foot.

Let's take a look at some of the most used fencing materials, and how much they'll run you per linear foot.

Common Fencing Materials

The first step, and the most important in determining your final fence cost, is choosing a material. Fence cost will vary significantly depending on what material you use. But the type of fence that is best for your space will vary from yard to yard.

To pick the type of fence that makes the most sense for your backyard, consider some of the following questions:

Why am I building this fence?

Is it to create privacy? To keep pets and kids safe? Or is it to establish a firm property line, or keep roaming animals like deer or neighborhood cats out of your backyard? Different needs will require different kinds of fence installation, and impact the material you choose.

How important are aesthetics to me?

Many kinds of fences can serve the same purpose. But if aesthetics are not top of mind, you may be able to save some money by going with fence materials that don't pack the same visual punch, but are much cheaper per foot.

Where do I need a fence?

You can save a significant amount of money by only fencing the areas of your property that need it. That means picking and choosing what of your property line could most benefit from a fence. Some homeowners may feel that fence installation can stop after the back of their property is closed off.

Can I perform the fence installation myself?

Beyond material and size, hiring a professional fence installer isn't exactly cheap. Fence installation costs can add up as a project becomes larger, or more complex. Avoid a high fence installation cost by choosing an option that allows for a DIY approach.

If you do not feel confident in your ability to install fence posts in your own backyard, ask around. Chances are, you may already know someone who knows someone who will help you out for cheap.

Once you've asked yourself all of these questions, chances are that their corresponding answers will make your choice pretty clear. That said, without further ado, let's get into the nitty gritty.

Vinyl Fence

Vinyl fences are made from a PVC material that is blended with special chemical components. This combination makes it excellent at withstanding weather of all kinds. In addition, it is easy to clean, non-porous, and less difficult to maintain than other fencing materials. Why?

Well, PVC or vinyl are both essentially fancy words for "plastic".  There is no natural material in the composition of a vinyl fence. While this will lower the cost per linear foot, pure plastic also has a few cons that are worth exploring.

Yes, vinyl is simple to upkeep and can hold its own in poor weather. But plastic will ultimately look like plastic, no matter who your fence installers are, or what material costs end up being. Vinyl fences are practical solutions for homeowners on a budget, but they also can look cheaper than more expensive solutions. Still, when compared with options such as chain link fences or an aluminum fence, they are a good solution for many backyards.

The Average Cost Per Linear Foot

Vinyl fence cost is variable. On average, however, you are looking at around $20 per linear foot. The better quality the vinyl, the more expensive your fence will be. Depending on the size of your yard, and labor costs in your area, a new fence in a good vinyl material will cost anywhere from just under $3,000 to a little over $5,000.

Wood Fence

When you think about fencing, your mind probably conjures up images of the classic wood fence. Whether the picture you paint in your mind is a white picket fence, or something more natural, wood fences have enjoyed incredible popularity for decades. And it's easy to see why.

Wood fences are beautiful, versatile, and fence installers in every part of the country have practices installing them. A great wood fence starts with a great quality wood. Typically, this means using a wood that is durable, and naturally repels insects.

Cedar is one of the most common wood fence materials on the market. A quality cedar fence can last you up to 20 years when properly looked after. A cedar fence is not your only option for natural insect repellents. Cypress and redwood are also good choices for keeping bugs at bay. Other woods such as treated pine and IPE can be used, but they should be treated and sealed appropriately.

Still, a wooden fence isn't a perfect all around solution. A wood privacy fence can look great, but when compared with vinyl or composite fencing, they are a little more high maintenance. If neglected, they can rot, split, or heave with the weather. Make sure that your wood fence is built by reputable fence contractors.

Ensure that fence posts are placed evenly, and that the material you choose is appropriate for your climate. There's nothing worse than paying for a new fence, only to realize that it's not built to withstand a snowy winter, or months of direct sun exposure.

The Average Cost Per Linear Foot

The cost per linear foot of a wood fence is less expensive than vinyl, but can vary greatly depending on the material used and the size of the fence. On average, wood fencing will cost you around $13 to $20 per linear foot. A small wood privacy fence will cost less than a large, wooden fence spanning entire property lines. Typically, an entire fence installation cost will fall between $2,000 and $3,000.

Aluminum Fence or Chain Link Fence

The chain link fence is almost always the cheapest yard fence you can buy. Fence installation is slightly different than that of a vinyl or wood fence. Still, even with all the ties, links, and stakes, metal fencing is nearly always less expensive than any other option on the market.  But there is a reason chain link fences are the least expensive type of new fence.

As a fence material, metal is not the most durable. Sure, it will stand up against wind and traffic. But like all metal, moisture becomes an Achilles heel of a chain link fence. Eventually, your fence will probably begin to rust. And when this happens, repair isn't usually an option. At this point, a chain link fence will need to be repaired by removing the rusted section, or replacing the fence completely.

After a few repairs or replacements, what was once a more affordable solution has turned into a total of multiple fence installation cost assessments, work by multiple fence contractors, the price of new fence material, and a high final price tag.

In summer, a chain link fence is an affordable and practical way to create fencing in a pinch. While not always the most attractive, it certainly does the job of keeping kids and pets safe. But, it is often not a good long term solution, the overall chain link fence cost can grow when maintenance or repairs are needed.

The Average Cost Per Linear Foot

A chain link or aluminum fence is the cheapest type of fencing available per linear foot. Fence cost of these installations ranges from $10-$20 per linear foot, depending on the type or gauge of metal that is used. The thicker the gauge, the higher the fence price will be.

Composite Fencing

Want the curb appeal of wood with the durability of vinyl? Welcome composite fencing to the ring!

We've talked about composite material several times on this blog, but mostly in reference to decking. Composite decking has enjoyed a boom in popularity in the last decade. And when you know more about the material, this makes sense. So what is composite fencing?

Composites are building materials that are made up of a blend of plastic and recycled wood materials. The end result is an incredibly realistic, natural wood-like finish, with all the low maintenance and durability of vinyl. Many people consider the only drawback of vinyl to be it's plastic-like finish, and composite fencing solves this problem.

In fact, there are very few drawbacks to choosing composite fencing. The biggest one is simply the price. So, how much exactly will a full composite privacy fence cost?

The Average Cost Per Linear Foot

On average, a composite fence will cost a homeowner between $20, all the way up to $40 per foot. The wide range depends on the quality of composite you choose, as well as the finish. A custom stain or design will end up reflecting in the final pricing. In total, a full size backyard privacy fence will cost between $3,500 to $6,000 dollars.

Other Common Fencing

Barbed Wire Fence

A close relative of the chain link fence, barbed wire fencing is not typically found in backyards. But if you have a large property, or own livestock, then this style of fence isn't so outside the box. Barbed wire is usually attached to woven wire fences. Though less common, it can be added on top of wood or vinyl fences as well.

Barbed wire is designed to prevent trespassing, or to maintain the security of your property lines. But how much does a barbed wire fence cost?

The Average Cost Per Linear Foot

Fence installation costs for barbed wire are similar to those for other styles of fences. This fencing cost consists of two parts: the fence costs for the main fencing unit, and the fence costs for the barbed wire itself.

Barbed wiring alone costs only about $1.50 per linear foot. The more of it you need, the more expensive the overall fence costs will become.

Wrought Iron Fence

Like chain link fences, the wrought iron fence is made of metal. However, this is where similarities end. Wrought iron fences might share metal make up with their aluminum or chain link counterparts, but they are a completely distinct type of fence in nearly every other way. The wrought iron fence is unmistakable. Dark, gothic, and almost old worldly, this isn't a popular pick for a typical backyard fence.

That being said, it is a great choice for homes that are looking to give a more unique look to their property lines. Wrought iron is most often pictured as dark and intimidating, but black is not the only colorway available. A touch of paint can lighten up the stereotypical wrought iron fence while retaining the intricate detail of the metal.

But how much does this wrought iron fence cost? Well, old world charm doesn't exactly come cheap.

The Average Cost Per Linear Foot

Per linear foot, the average price for a wrought iron fencing is between $26 and $34 on average. The more intricate your design, the more you can expect to pay.

Additionally, you should consider the time it will take for a fence contractor to install, and how much regular upkeep will be needed to keep wrought iron looking great. Neglected, rust can overcome wrought iron fencing just like any metal and turn a once attractive fence into a disaster.

Choose The Fence That Makes Sense for You

There are a lot of options when it comes to fencing. And a lot of different aspects will affect cost. Thus, it's important to think through your project from start to finish.

First, think about what kind of fence you need.

Is it a privacy fence? A split rail fence? A large, protective fence spanning your property? Or are you simply in the market for a classic, white picket fence or beautiful wood installation. Per foot, nothing impacts the cost of your project more than the material.

You can help guide your choices by determining exactly what kind of fencing project you're looking to do. A fence that is solely meant to improve curb appeal will have different needs to one that is meant to ensure safety of livestock.

Then, shop it out.

Material cost aside, different fence installers will charge different rates. A fence installer in Southern California is likely to have higher rates than a similar business in the midwest. Some homeowners may choose a DIY approach. If this is you, know that making structural errors in the process might end up costing you more than you saved initially.

Finally, Shop It Out

Don't go with the first option you see. A fence is an investment that will be with you for decades, if done well. So shop it out. Doing your research to make sure you buy a quality product can save you dreaded buyers remorse. This goes for labor, as well as cost of material.

At the end of the day, you can make a fencing project affordable, or as expensive as you want. But what really matters is that it serves its purpose, and looks great doing it. Whether that leads to a vinyl fence, wire mesh around your chicken coop, or a high end composite spanning all your property lines, if you're satisfied, that's what matters.

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