If you are a homeowner, you probably need a fence. Finding the best one can be tricky these days since numerous models, materials, and brands can make the search daunting. Undoubtedly, you should consider two of the most popular options and decide to buy a vinyl or PVC fence.
The crucial thing is to understand the difference between the two and their advantages and downsides. Then, you should check their quality, durability, maintenance level, and price. Only that way, you can make the right choice and beautify your property with a lovely fence you will adore.
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Are PVC and Vinyl the Same Thing?
Both vinyl and PVC fences contain chloride and are fortified with plasticizers, stabilizers, and modifiers. Their purpose is to improve their UV resistance and outdoor performance.
However, these two compounds are not entirely the same. Vinyl is a critical ingredient in vinyl chloride (chloroethene), but once you add initiators to this chemical, the result is polyvinyl chloride. That is actually PVC.
What Is Vinyl?
As I have already mentioned, vinyl is an artificial synthetic material made from ethylene and chloride. You can find three types on the market, including:
- Polyvinylidene chloride
- Polyvinyl acetate
- Polyvinyl alcohol
The difference is in the chemical process they are subjected to.
- Privacy fence
This fence, made of panels containing planks and rails, comes without gaps between planks. It provides utmost privacy and is among the most popular fence types in the US.
- Semi-privacy fence
This fence type features panels made of alternately placed planks and rails, with both sides looking the same sometimes. They provide some privacy but not complete isolation.
- Picket fence
This fence type probably reminds you of traditional wooden fences installed around American homes for decades. It is created of 6 feet or 8 feet (1.8 m / 2.4 m) high panels with two horizontal rails. They are placed between pickets and look lovely, although they don’t offer much privacy.
- Ranch rails
You can see this durable fence type on ranches and farms, but they are also a fence option in larger estates. It typically features panels attached between posts coming with two to four rails, depending on their purpose.
Most vinyl fences come in three colors. However, you can find some variations in other color options, like tan, blue, green, red, brown, and black.
This color is an excellent option for both light and dark-colored homes. Unfortunately, it requires regular maintenance because of quick dirt buildup. You will most likely need to wash it at least twice a year.
Most homeowners pick out this practical solution because it doesn’t require much cleaning. You have a few shades at your disposal, including off-white, slate, and light and dark gray. Nowadays, you can opt for white posts holding gray panels if you want to add a unique dimension to your fence.
This color type provides a rustic chic effect without the necessity for maintenance. Nowadays, you can find vinyl fences in a grain style and multiple shades, depending on your taste and home appearance.
Quality vinyl is a highly-durable material resistant to harsh weather conditions, rust, rot, and fading. Its life expectancy is approximately 20 to 30 years, but a fence made of premium vinyl typically lasts over 40 years. On the other hand, you can expect those made of thin, low-quality vinyl to last about a decade.
Elegant vinyl fencing is available in various styles and designs, and you can quickly find a unique model that fits your home. Most people prefer 4 to 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m) high fences, but you need to check local restrictions before installation.
Since PVC fence comes with interlocking panels, installation is effortless, quick, and doesn’t require fasteners. That makes this option ideal for a DIY project.
Vinyl is a low-maintenance material without the need to paint them because it doesn’t fade, peel, chip, or warp. Occasional cleaning includes water and soap to prevent mold, mildew, and algae growth, making it look as good as new.
Vinyl fencing comes with higher initial costs but is cost-effective in the long run. The price varies depending on height, thickness, size, add-ons, the region where you live, and current material and labor costs.
In most cases, you need to spend about $3,700 on average for a new vinyl fence, but woodgrain textures or decorative elements will increase the total cost.
Plus, you need to count on $42 per hour for labor costs on average. While the national average cost for material and professional installation is $3,700, add-ons can increase the price to $11,400.
What Is PVC?
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a synthetic resin obtained from vinyl chloride after polymerization. It is a durable, strong, and affordable construction material with a long lifespan.
Be aware that you can’t use unmodified polyvinyl chloride since it is brittle and non-resistant to UV radiation.
The material used for fences and other purposes has passed a conversion process resulting in a fortified compound. Manufacturers use various ratios of additives, affecting PVC quality and durability.
A fence’s primary purpose is protection, but it can also be beautiful. The great thing is that you can choose between an ordinary PVC fence or a customized model, depending on your wishes and the budget. It comes in various heights, colors, and even diagonal and vertical lattices.
PVC material is durable and resistant to most chemical and biological agents, moisture, and even fire in some cases. However, it is questionable how long the fence made of this material can last.
It is estimated that you can use it for about 20 to 30 years with essential maintenance and occasional damaged parts replacement.
Safe for children and pets
Vinyl is non-toxic to kids and animals, making it a safe option for your family.
You can install a PVC fence as a DIY project or ask for professional installation, depending on your preferences. Such a project requires an intermediate skill level, but be prepared that installing high types can be pretty challenging.
PVC fences are easy-to-clean, while some premium options are maintain-free. You will most likely need to wash it with a regular cleaner and hose or power washer.
This fence requires repairs after a while, and it is impossible to do anything with cracked or broken parts. The only option is to replace the damaged PVC pipe.
PVC fencing’s initial price is high, and even the less expensive short or mid-height picket panels will cost $20 per linear foot. On the other hand, you should set aside at least $40 per linear foot for semi-privacy or privacy fence types.
In most cases, you should expect to pay about $3,000 to $5,700 for the material and professional installation of a new fence.
PVC vs. Vinyl Fence
Even though vinyl and PVC are similar and most people confuse those two materials with one another, they are actually different. However, they are technically the same material class, so you shouldn’t expect significant differences between them.
PVC vs. Vinyl Fence
|Design||Wide design options||Wide design options|
|Color||White, gray, and woodgrain||White, gray, and woodgrain|
|Durability||20 to 30 years||Approximately 40 years|
|Safety||Safe for kids and pets||Safe for kids and pets|
|Installation||Moderately demanding; requires planning||Effortless, ideal for a DIY project|
|Reparability||Hard to repair||Hard to repair|
|Price||$15 to $30 per linear foot||$20 to $40 per linear foot|
The difference between vinyl and PVC fences is evident at first glance. Even the most creative fashioned PVC fence looks like a connected pipes series. On the other hand, vinyl fences are molded to match your taste and property landscaping theme.
Manufacturers offer long-term warranties for vinyl fences since they approximately last about 40 years. Still, you should always check clauses that can render the warranty void, like painting.
PVC pipes are durable, but it is still unsure how long they can last as a fence. It depends on exposure to weather changes and temperature variations.
Vinyl fences come with instructions for assembly, making them easy to install. On the other hand, you need to plan PVC fence installation and ensure that pipes are cut at adequate length.
PVC and vinyl fences require low maintenance, including washing with soap and water. However, you will need to replace cracked and broken PVC pipes at some point.
Vinyl fences are typically more expensive than PVC types. The reason is in their purposes. Manufacturers created a vinyl fence that is made to exceed wood fence durability, while PVC is not made to be material for fences.
Both vinyl and PVC fences are an excellent and convenient alternative to traditional ones made of wood or metal. They are durable, resistant, and affordable options in the long run.
Since both fence types require low maintenance, you won’t spend too much time cleaning them. The only thing to take care of is exposure to extreme temperatures that can quickly damage them.