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What are the Different Types of Fences?

Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Updated May 16, 2024
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While the most common types of fences are wood, vinyl, and metal fences, countless other types exist for a variety of applications. An invisible fence, for example, is a buried electrical line that works in conjunction with a collar placed on a dog to prevent the dog from leaving a perimeter. Garden fencing can be a wooden fence or it might be a very light gauge steel mesh or aluminum. Perhaps the most common and recognizable types of fences are chain link fences and wooden fences, though there are several varieties of each of those as well.

Of all the types of fences on the market, chain link fencing is perhaps the most common because it is affordable, functional, and relatively easy to install. It is also one of the most versatile types of fences, since endless configurations can be made by placing the posts in different positions and stretching the chain links between them. Chain link fencing is not limited to just straight fencing, in fact; chain link fencing can be made into structures such as baseball backstops or even cage enclosures at batting cages. Chain link fencing is often used for security purposes, especially in prisons.

Privacy fencing is designed to enclose an area and obstruct views from the outside. They are commonly seen as perimeter fencing around yards at home, and they are often made of either wood or vinyl. Vinyl fencing is a relatively new material for fencing, and it is durable, low-maintenance, and fairly inexpensive. Installing vinyl fencing can be somewhat difficult, however, since the panels are prefabricated and cannot be cut to length on-site. The panels and posts must fit together properly or buckling or loosening may occur over time. Wood is not as low maintenance as vinyl, but it is easier to work with upon installation and the shape and size of the fence can be customized easily by cutting, sanding, or shimming.

Other types of fences such as electric fences are less common. An electric fence is a metal fence that conducts an electrical charge; it is designed to keep people or animals either enclosed in an area or outside of an area, and they can be quite dangerous. Barbed wire fencing can also be quite dangerous, as the top of the fence is wrapped in metal barbed wire that can easily cut skin and cause severe injury.

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Discussion Comments

By Inaventu — On Apr 10, 2014

My neighbors installed an electric fence because of all their dogs. I brushed up against it once when it was "live" and it just felt like a snap from a really big rubber band. I suppose it would get a dog's attention, but I didn't think it would pose a danger to me if I grabbed it by accident. I feel a lot more nervous around barbed wire fences.

By Buster29 — On Apr 09, 2014

I have never liked the look of chain link fences. When I bought my house, I looked at all types of fences for the backyard. The existing chain link fence looked horrible. A lot of it had rusted, and there were places where the chain link was bent down to the ground. I chose to replace it with a wood privacy fence.

The home improvement store did have some vinyl fencing, as mentioned in this article, but I didn't know if I could make it fit the dimensions of the backyard.

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