Composite fencing is becoming increasingly popular. But how does it compare to traditional wooden fencing?
Composite fencing comes in a variety of colours, has a long lifespan and can achieve a look which is impossible with wood. However wooden fencing can be a financially better decision, even in the long run.
So how do they stack up against each other and which should you opt for if you are getting a new fence or replacing a fence?
Variety: Which has more options?
Short answer: Wood fencing offers much more to choose from but composite is unique and still catching up
Wooden fencing has been around for a long time whereas composite fencing has only been available as a standard item in the last 10 years. Because composite fencing is a relatively new product the range of options is still limited.
This means you may struggle to find specific types of fence or fence panel made from a composite material.
Wooden fencing is popular and easy to work with so it is available in any shape or size you desire. Many builders, merchants and landscapers will also build a custom wooden fence just for you as long as you know what you want.
Winner: Wood fencing
Short answer: When it comes to durability, composite is the clear winner
Composite fencing is made from a mixture of plastic and wood fibres with some fencing coated with an additional layer of plastic to aid weather resistance. Most composite fencing will come with between a 5 and 25 year guarantee against discolouration and wear.
One of the areas where composite clearly beats wooden fencing is maintenance. For almost all wooden fencing you will need to treat it every 1 to 2 years which can be time consuming.
Composite fencing never needs treatment and is unlikely to even need cleaning as it provides no where for dirt to cling.
Winner: Composite fencing
Short answer: Wooden fencing can achieve a better appearance but composite may suit some tastes better
This one is more subjective but here is a short breakdown of the differences
Wood fencing comes in a huge variety of styles, textures and finishes. It can be built to any height you would like, painted or stained to any colour and designed in almost any way you would like.
Composite fencing is more limited because there is less of it manufactured, it is harder to work with and cant be painted. Despite this, it does offer some advantages.
Composite fencing can achieve colours which are impossible with normal fencing. If you are looking for a modern feel then composite fencing may be much more your thing.
Winner: Wooden fencing
Short answer: Wood fencing is much easier to get hold of with many more suppliers
As landscapers and fence installers we frequently get asked to install composite fencing and get asked to see the range of styles we provide. Unfortunately what we send back is often disappointing. This is because there just isn’t that much available and what is available is often too expensive or fiddly to put together.
Wooden fencing on the other hand is available everywhere in all types and sizes with plenty of companies offering fast national delivery.
This is where composite fencing falls down hard on its face. If you are just looking for composite fence panels in the standard 5ft x 6ft size you will be looking at £100 + compared to £30 for a good quality close board fence panel made from wood.
If you are looking to have the whole fence built from composite materials with the purpose built posts you will be looking at upwards of £200 per meter. More than double the cost of having a wooden fence with concrete posts installed.
So is a composite fence worth it for the extra life span?
If your main concern is cost then don’t get a composite fence. Even in the long run they are still more expensive. Here is a quick example to illustrate.
Sally and Tim want a new fence at their forever house. They need 20 meters of fencing so they weigh up which fence will cost the most over their 20 years.
Composite fencing will cost £4000 for the whole thing and will last 20 years before it need replacing
Composite fencing total cost: £4000
Wooden fencing with concrete posts will cost £2000. The concrete posts and boards will last 20 years. The wood needs treating every 2 years which will cost £400 over 20 years. The boards will need replacing once in that time which will cost £500.
Wood fencing total cost £2900
Composite fencing offers exciting new options and will be the solution that some people have been looking to reduce their garden work. However for most of us wooden fencing is still the best option.
However it’s very likely that composite fencing will eventually become more affordable and offer greater variety as demand for the product pushes suppliers to develop better products.
This happened with artificial grass which was once a terrible product but is now very good.
Watch this space because in 10 years composite fencing could be the best fencing product available.