Guide to composite fencing

Grey vinyl fence panels in concrete posts

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You’ve probably never heard of composite fencing, and that’s because it’s a new invention. Composite fencing is an all-plastic non-wood alternative to traditional wooden fences.

It comes in a variety of colours and styles including picket, lattice, ornamental, and privacy. This article goes through what composite fencing is, the different types of composite fencing and various other things you should know.

But there are some disadvantages to composite fencing as well: no one has ever used them long enough to find out what they really look like after years of exposure to the elements, especially weathering which can turn wood black.

What is composite fencing?

Composite fencing is a new kind of fence that’s all-plastic or made from a mixture of plastic and wood (similar to composite decking).

Composite fencing is a great way to have the best of both worlds. The wood in this type of fence creates an authentic and natural looking solution, while the plastic retains incredible strength for longer lasting durability than wooden fencing.

If you’re looking for eco-friendly fencing, composite is the perfect solution. Composite fences last much longer than traditional wooden versions and require fewer replacements in the future. So if being eco-conscious matters to you as well, then this should be your go-to choice!

Types of composite fencing

When it comes to installing composite fencing there are two main types; Composite fencing panels (these just slot into concrete fence posts) and Composite fence kits which are full kits that slot together.

Composite fence panels

Grey composite fence panels in concrete posts

Composite fence panels come in 1 ft tall sections which slide into the gap between the fence posts. You simply purchase as many of these as you need to reach the desired height.

Composite fence panels are great for replacing already existing panels, they come in slightly more expensive but are much easier to install and will last a long time.

Composite fence kits

Grey composite fence built from a kit

The more expensive but better looking option is composite fencing kits. There are a small number available which generally come with steel or aluminium posts and slot in panels designed specially for the posts.

Composite fencing kits come as modules which can be changed easily so if you want to add decorative panels or part panels this can be done easily.

The main downside is the price. Due to the high popularity they are extremely expensive to buy. This is somewhat mitigated by easier installation but you will still pay more than almost any other type of fence for a good kit.

How much does composite fencing cost?

Composite fencing is typically more expensive to buy that wooden fencing but can be cheaper due to easier installation.

Basic composite fence panels are a little more expensive than wood. You’ll have to pay more if you’re buying a privacy or ornamental fence panel.

Composite fence kits can be much more expensive that traditional wooden fencing to buy upfront.

The cost with this type of fence is higher up front but lower in the long run because of its long lifespan.

It’s important to remember that composite fencing lasts much longer than traditional wooden versions and requires fewer replacements in the future.

As well as the overall lifespan you need to consider the ongoing maintenance costs in both time and money. Wooden fencing needs treading and staining every 1 or 2 years which can cost hours of your time or hundreds of pounds.

Composite fencing tends to stay clean a need very little maintenance. When it does need cleaned it can be done with a simple bucket of water and sponge.

How difficult is it to install?

Installing wooden fence posts

Composite fencing is a little easier to install than wooden fences. The materials used in the composite fencing kits are much lighter than those used in wooden fencing.

The aluminium posts used in composite fencing kits are much lighter than those used on wood. The amount of work you need to do when installing the fence panels is also less.

Are composite fences rot resistant?

Composite fencing is rot and mould resistant. Wood by itself doesn’t really repel splintering and cracking or mould.

Composite fence panels are made from recycled plastics that aren’t affected by sunlight, moisture, and water.

These factors can really make your wooden fence begin to deteriorate so it’s best that you replace it with composite fencing to avoid future damage.

UV bleaching

One of the biggest downsides to composite and plastic materials in the past has been UV bleaching. Its common to see fences and other outdoor items that have been left out in the sun for a long time to become discoloured.

This has changed with recent developments in composite fencing panels which are now UV stable.

Composite fences also don’t absorb water so they can’t cause fungus or mould as easily.

Most composite fencing is extremely resistant to UV radiation. The plastic used in composite fences is very dense, which repels sunlight and hence you won’t find any ugly cracking or discolouration on your fence panels once they’ve been installed.

This may not be true for cheap knock of versions which will no doubt tempt those looking for cheaper fencing.

Be sure to check that the composite materials are UV resistant before you buy.

How long will a composite fence last?

Composite fencing can last for up to 20 years so long as it is properly maintained.

Composite fencing doesn’t have to be replaced every few years like wooden fences since there’s no rotting and splintering of wood that needs repair.

The only time you might need replacement panels are if you want new sections for aesthetics purposes.

Shortcuts and cheaper alternatives?

There are some short cuts you could take to reduce the price of your fence, but it’s probably not worth it since composite fencing is more cost-effective in the long run because there isn’t any splitting or cracking when exposed to UV radiation or moisture/water .

See our article on cheaper alternatives to a wooden fence.

Cleaning your new fence panels

Composite fencing is designed to be low maintenance. Its plastic surfaces has not got any pours which means that dirt and mould struggle to cling to it.

Most composite fencing panels don’t require cleaning, but you can use a mild soap and warm water to clean them if they become dirty or mouldy.

Make sure to follow the manufacturers instructions so that you don’t damage the surfaces of the panels and especially with any type of cleaning agent.

Can I use bleach on composite fencing?

Bleach can damage or break down the composite materials used in making your fence panels.

If you really want to use bleach then be sure to test a small section of your fence first to see how it reacts before using it on the rest of the fence.

In general it is not necessary to use a cleaning agent as strong as bleach on composite fencing.

If you need to scrub the fence then just use warm water and mild soap or a special cleaning agent recommended for composite materials.

Can composite fencing be painted?

Composite fencing cannot be painted.

This is a problem for many people as painting your fence the colour you want it to be will make it instantly look better, but using normal paints on composite material can cause damage and discolouration.

If you paint your fence then over time the paint will begin to crack apart from the plastic as it has nothing to hold it in place.

You may be able to paint it with specialist paint for plastics but this is likely to be difficult and need a specialist to carry out.

Conclusion

Composite fencing is a great choice for many people.

The best part about composite fences is that you don’t have to replace them quickly like wood due to rot and splitting. In fact some composite materials last up to 20 years before needing replacement.

There are other benefits as well, including rot resistant surface which doesn’t split or splinter.

Composite fences are environmentally friendly too since they are made from recycled materials rather than using wood which has to be chopped down.

Composite fencing is more expensive that wooden fencing but the price can be justified due to its durability and longevity.

Manufacturers have overcome many of the problems of composite fences such as UV damage and splintering which was a major problem in the past with early versions of this fencing.

If you want a fence that looks like wood but lasts longer then composite is an option worth considering.

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