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Fence Materials Guide

A fence can provide privacy, security, pet containment and more. Learn how to choose the right fence style for you.

Wood fencing materials.

Fence Considerations

Before you purchase fencing, consider zoning or homeowner's association regulations, underground utility locations and property lines. Read Plan Your Fence Installation for steps to start your project correctly.

Good to Know

Look for in-store planning guides to help you plot your project and determine how many posts you need and what type of hardware is required.

Component Fencing and Preassembled Panels

Racking and Stair-Stepping Fences.

Component fences are sometimes called stick-built fences. You assemble the fence from individual pieces such as boards and rails. These fences take longer to build, but can follow the contours of the landscape, a technique called racking. Some types of wood fencing are available as components.

Preassembled panel fences can be easier to assemble but may not be able to follow the landscape like a component fence. You can rack some adjustable panels, but you have to stair-step others to accommodate slopes. Metal, vinyl and some wood fences are available as panels.

Wood Fencing

Shadowbox Wood Panel Fence.

Wood fences have a traditional look but require ongoing maintenance. You may need to paint or stain them every few years.

Wood panel fencing — sometimes called stockade fencing — improves privacy and security and is a good choice for setting boundaries for children and pets. Individual components — boards and rails — and prebuilt panels come in sections 4 to 6 feet tall and 6 or 8 feet long. There are two basic types of panels:

  • The boards on a solid panel fence butt against each other. One side of the panel shows the faces of the pickets while the other side shows the rails. A solid panel fence is good for concealing unattractive areas or hiding a roadway from view.
  • Shadowbox panels, right, use alternating boards on each side of the fence rail to give the fence the same look on both sides, allow air circulation and provide partial views.

Picket fencing adds a decorative element and may also work for pet containment. These fences have spaced boards or pickets running along one side of the fence rail and are generally a maximum of 4 feet tall. They are available in pre-assembled panels up to 8 feet in length and as individual components

Panels and picket fencing materials are available with dog-eared tops and with pointed tops in several styles. You can also find panels with lattice tops to give the fence an ornamental touch.

Split-rail fencing — also known as post-and-rail fencing — adds a rustic look to a landscape. Use this type of fence to define specific areas in your yard or provide an easily visible separation along property lines. The horizontal rails are available either split or round in lengths from 8 to 11 feet.

Depending on the region and style, wood fencing is available in cedar, pine, redwood or spruce. Cedar and redwood are resistant to decay and insects. Spruce and pine are typically pressure-treated to deter insects and decay.

Read Install a Wood Fence and Install a Split-Rail Fence for step-by-step instructions on building two types of wood fences.

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Good to Know

Pressure-treated fence materials require hot-dipped galvanized or stainless-steel fasteners and hardware. Check the packaging for the fasteners and hardware to make sure they are labeled for use with pressure-treated materials.

Vinyl Fencing

Vinyl Fencing.

Vinyl fencing is attractive and low-maintenance. The materials require an occasional rinsing, but aren't subject to rot, fading or other effects of weather and time.

Vinyl fencing is available in looks similar to the wood panel, picket and rail fencing. Solid panels can create boundaries and privacy, while shadowbox panels also allow air circulation and don't completely block your view. Picket panels add a decorative look and work well for boundaries and containing some pets. Vinyl rail fencing has the look of wooden boards and is a good choice for defining boundaries and other areas of the landscape. Typical panels can be 4 to 6 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide. Some panels allow limited racking, but others need to be stair-stepped. Vinyl rails range from 8 to 16 feet long. Rail fencing is rackable.

See Install a Vinyl Fence for instructions on creating a vinyl fence.

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Chain Link Fencing

Chain-Link Fence.

Chain-link fencing — sometimes called hurricane fencing — can help keep children and pets in and animals out. Higher chain-link fencing can improve security. Made from galvanized steel wire, the weather-resistant material is referred to as fabric and is available from 3 to 12 feet in height and in 10- or 50-foot length rolls. Chain-link fabric comes in different mesh sizes and wire thicknesses or gauges. The smaller the gauge number, the heavier the wire.

If you don't like the silvery look of the bare fence, you can find fabric with a weather-resistant coating, usually green or black vinyl. You can weave plastic slats into the fence fabric for privacy or to block unsightly areas of a landscape.

See Install a Chain-Link Fence for installation steps and diagrams.

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Good to Know

Stretcher bars and hog-ring pliers are specialty tools for chain-link fence installation. You also need specialty hardware such as tension bands, tension bars and tie wires to complete the project.

Decorative Metal Fencing

Decorative metal fence.

Decorative metal fencing beautifies and draws attention to areas of your landscape. It offers the formal appearance of wrought iron, but is made from powder-coated steel or aluminum for durability and minimal maintenance. Available in a variety of styles and sizes ranging from 4 or 5 feet in height and lengths of 12 feet or more, the components are relatively easy to assemble. You can find fencing that doesn't require digging — simply drive an anchor into the ground and attach the fence post. Some metal panels allow for limited racking to follow landscape contours.

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Garden and Utility Fencing

Wire Garden Fence.

Garden and utility fencing can contain pets and can keep animals out of gardens. The material is available in rolls 2 to 5 feet high and lengths up to 150 feet. Sometimes referred to as hardware cloth, it's also available with a vinyl coating, usually green or brown. When used with rail fencing, welded wire functions as a pet containment fence for large areas. Plastic / polyresin and wood are lighter-weight alternatives for light duty or seasonal use. Hex netting or chicken wire is often used to fence in poultry, but can also work for small pets such as rabbits.

Decorative garden border fencing and gates are available in a range of widths and heights and are used to establish boundaries or as landscape accents. Some types don't require digging for installation.

Read Garden Fence Tips for more details on garden fencing and for installation tips and instructions.

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Other Fencing Products

Other fencing options may be available in your local store or by Special Order:

Bamboo brings a distinctive look to a landscape when used for fencing and gates.

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Composite fencing is made from recycled wood and plastic and offers lower maintenance with the look of real wood. It resists insects, splitting and decay.

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Electric fencing is normally used to contain livestock. With low-output chargers, electric fencing can work in residential settings to keep animals out of gardens. Chargers are powered by AC current or solar energy.

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Electronic pet containment fencing provides pet containment without a visible fence. The systems include of a transmitter and a collar. Some models have a wire you bury to outline the area you want to contain. Others are wireless. If the pet gets close to the fence perimeter, it receives a warning signal through the collar.

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Farm fencing is available in woven, barbed and barbless wire to contain large animals. You can also find welded wire to keep small animals in and plastic / polyresin fencing to help protect your garden from deer and other animals. Read Lowe's Farm Fencing Buying Guide to learn specifics.

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Lattice can provide privacy or screen unattractive views. Depending on your location, it's available in pine, spruce, redwood, cedar or different shades of vinyl. Pine and spruce lattice is treated to resist decay and insects.

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Additional Fencing Elements

Rails support fence panels or pickets for wood, vinyl and chain-link fencing. If you use preassembled panels, the rails are already attached.

Posts provide stability to the fence by supporting fence rails or wire mesh. End or terminal posts function as starting and stopping points. Corner posts create angles to let you change the direction of the fencing. Line posts support straight runs. Some vinyl posts require a steel insert for stability.

Gates are available to match the style of your fence. Depending on the fence type, you can find single gates for foot traffic and double gates for vehicles. You can also find openers for some types of gates.