Wood vs. Plastic Fencing: What’s the Difference?

Wood vs. Plastic Fencing What’s the Difference

Learn about two popular materials used in fencing – each with their own benefits and drawbacks – so you can install the ideal fence for your property!

Plastic fencing is iconic in American gardens, and the trend has grown in popularity here in the UK in recent years. It’s easy to understand why so many people love wooden fences, as they come in a variety of warm colours, designs and textures.

Plastic, however, is giving wood some stiff competition these days. The super-durable material, often referred to as PVC, was introduced in the 1980s, but those early versions look too plastic and cheap. Improved design has led to plastic fences becoming more natural, stronger and tougher than ever.


Plastic costs more up front, but maintaining wood is pricier over time

Wood fencing typically costs £10 per foot uninstalled, but a wood fence is bound to require maintenance, such as placing boards as they warp or rot over the years. Plastic, which is slightly more expensive at around £15 per foot, is virtually maintenance-free. Plastic will also typically outlast wood fences, which are susceptible to weather, rot, insects and other factors. It won’t warp or fade and should look the same as when it’s installed for years to come, as long as it’s kept clean.

Wood looks more natural than plastic

You can’t beat wood for organic warmth and traditional feel. It’s available in an endless number of options and design styles, from picket fences with decorative scalloped top to a French Gothic-style privacy fence. Wood can also be left in its natural state with a simple protective sealant or stained or painted in virtually any colour you like.

Wood can be refinished

Plastic fencing cannot be painted or stained, so once you choose a colour and style for your plastic fence, that’s what it will look like for its life. If you continue to love it then great; but if you change your mind you’ll have to start again.

Plastic fences are easier to keep clean

A quick wash with a garden hose is pretty much all it takes to banish dirt from a vinyl fence. It might even be worth investing in a pressure washer if you have a lot of plastic fencing to clean.

Wooden fences would need power washing with detergents on a more frequent basis to keep away the mould and mildew.

Repairing plastic is trickier than wood

Although plastic fencing is very durable when damaged or broken by extreme weather for instance, it can be a pain to repair. Small holes or cracks can be fixed with a DIY plastic fence repair kit, but bigger problems will require the expertise of a professional. Wood may warp, rot or weaken over time, but if it breaks it’s relatively simple to replace.