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Matching Form To Function: Choosing The Right Fence Material For Your Home

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Installing a fence for your home should be relatively simple, but the sheer variety of options can make even selecting the right material a puzzle. But certain types of fencing naturally lend themselves to some needs and applications more readily than others. Here are some tips for matching the form of your fence to its intended function.

Want the Most Solid, Private Fence? Go With Stone

Nothing says "I'm here to stay" quite like stone. Stone fences and walls radiate natural strength and stability, so if that's the impression you want to convey, this is your building material. Solid stone also gives you optimal privacy by making you and your guests invisible to the outside world, depending on how high you choose to build your fence. Fortunately, the fact that stone is readily available at little to no cost makes this type of fencing more affordable to set up than you might think. The downside is that it can be very hard to modify or repair a stone fence once you've got it put together.

Want the Most Elegant Fence? Try a Wrought-Iron Look

Ornamental iron fencing provides an attractive combination of aesthetic elegance and genuine strength, protecting you against intruders even as it beautifies your property. This latter feature not only makes you the envy of the block, but the extra "curb appeal" might also give the resale value of your residence a welcome boost, or at least help it sell faster, when it's time to move on to your next home. Wrought iron is the classic material for ornamental iron fencing, but it can be pricey, ranging from $24 to $34 per linear foot. For sheer durability, low maintenance and classy looks, however, few materials can surpass it.

Want the Most Welcoming Fence? You Can't Beat Wood (or Its Lookalikes)

Nothing beats the rustic "down-home" look of an old-fashioned wooden picket fence. These and other styles offer varying degrees of privacy, depending on the height of the planks and amount of space you decide you want between them. If your home sports a traditional or antique look, a wooden fence will complement that look beautifully. But it's important to note that even modern pressurized wood requires a certain amount of upkeep in the form of periodic cleaning and painting to protect the surfaces from rot. If you'd like a more trouble-free alternative, you can get vinyl fencing that bears a close resemblance to wood (right down to a wood-grain texture) without suffering from the same vulnerabilities.

Want an Unusual Fence? Create Your Own

There's no law that says you can't express your creative side by erecting an unconventional fence (apart from whatever rules or covenants your neighborhood association may have specified). The resulting fence may not be the strongest, most secure or most private structure, but it can still do a decent job of delineating your property while also adding a unique aesthetic appeal. You might consider such examples as:

  • Metal fencing made out of old bicycle frames welded together
  • Glass-bottle fences in which the bottles are stacked over supporting wires
  • A bamboo fence constructed from actual bamboo plants (or "faked" by draping rolls of bamboo over an underlying fence material)

Want "Just a Fence"? There's Always Chain Link

Sometimes a fence need do nothing more than keep people out, keep pets in and/or mark your property line. If you're looking for pure utility at a relatively low price, chain link fencing remains a viable option. This material comes in big rolls that are easy to install onto metal support posts -- if you want that extra touch of security, you can get the kind with a barbed topside. The obvious downside is its plain "industrial" look and total lack of privacy from prying eyes. On the other hand, the wire mesh also gives you maximum visibility to see what's going on in your neighborhood.

Think hard about which features are most important to you -- strength, durability, elegance, uniqueness or price -- and you'll find it easy to pick out the perfect fencing material for your needs. If you're still unsure, ask your local home improvement expert or a contractor like City Wide Fence Co for cost estimates and additional guidance.