Life is about options and when it comes to picking a new fence, the larger question is going with a wood fence or a chain link fence. Whether driving down your suburban road, walking along a bustling city street or even running along rural land, chances are, you will see a wood or chain link fence.
When it comes time to decide which fence is best for your home, the decision will largely come down to multiple factors, the most important of which will be the cost comparison, design pros and cons and maintenance times. Below, I will go over all the information one needs to answer the question, wood fence vs. chain link fence.
Fence Cost Comparison
More often than not, any type of wood fence will cost more than a chain link fence. According to our four foot chain link fence cost estimator, the average cost per linear foot could range from $5-$40. In simpler terms, a 50-foot roll of chain link can range from $50 to $95 based on the fence height.
Like all fences, there are other cost factors besides the actual cost of materials. For one, chain link fences are easier to install, providing a potential DIY project or a lower invoice from your pro (the easier it is, the cheaper the project). However, there are certain hardware costs one must be aware of. Expect separate costs for:
- Metal Stakes
- Galvanized Posts
- Corner Adapters
- Tie Wire
For more cost information, please see our chain link cost guide.
With its wood counterpart, expect to pay a bit more, just as you should expect with more options, privacy and other bells and whistles. Most 6 foot privacy fence costs range from $25 to $100 per panel. Most panels are approximately eight feet long. The price will largely depend on the size of the yard, type of wood, fence style, DIY or professional installation as well as painting and staining colors.
For more pricing information, please see our wood fence cost guide.
Fence Design Comparison
As with all home additions, we have to balance both function and design. When it comes to design, a wood fence will beat out chain link almost every time. Chain link fences come in a limited amount of colors. You can, however, go California-style with wood posts and caps. Conversely, not only are there plenty of different woods for wood fences, but numerous styles give you the opportunity to create a unique fence design perfect for your home. You can choose from:
- Picket Fence
- 6 Foot Privacy Fencing
- Shadow Box Fencing
- Stockade Fencing
- Ranch Fencing
- Board No Board Fencing
For details on each type, style as well as cost comparisons, please see the costs and benefits of all wood fences.
Fence Installation Comparison
Put simply, wood fences are more difficult to install (hence the higher price tag). While many wood fences are installed panel-by-panel, chain link fences come in pre-made sections interlocked with galvanized steel fence posts. The posts must be cemented into the ground, but as you can imagine, installing one big piece of fence (chain link) compared to a hundred tiny pieces is much simpler.
A bright side for wood fences is you don’t have to use concrete. Some builders recommend it, but it is not 100% necessary. Just know that every other aspect of your wood fence installation will be more difficult than chain link fencing.
You most likely chose a wood fence for privacy. In order to provide privacy, you need a tall fence. Nonetheless, the taller the boards, the heaver they are. This not only adds time to your project, but labor on your body. Additionally, you have to make sure the post holes are deep into the ground if you don’t use concrete. Just make sure you don’t hit a utility line and knock out all the power.
As always, if you are looking to save money on installation, see how to install a fence without a pro.
Fence Maintenance Comparison
Maintenance is another one-sided debate with chain link fences dominating the game. Chain ink fences are extremely low maintenance once they are installed. Additionally, if you choose to go with a chain link vinyl fabric material, even less maintenance is required.
On the other hand, wood fences take constant monitoring to maintain its pristine shape. Below are some of tasks one should take (highly encouraged) after the fence is installed.
- Check all the nails in the pickets and replace if you have to.
- Clean the fence every few months to ensure grime and mildew does not stick.
- Repaint or stain your fence every few years.
- If you used concrete fence posts, put caulk between each post and wood panel. This keeps moisture out and greatly extends the life of your fence.
Fence Durability Comparison
Metal last longer than wood and metal does not have to deal with issues like rot and termites. Also, most chain link fencing is galvanized, extending its lifespan. As long as a huge storm doesn’t hit your town, your chain link fence should last well over 15 years.
On the other hand, wood fencing needs to be maintained in order to preserve its shape, design and function. In addition to all the maintenance issues above, wood fence owners have to also worry about termites, rot and mold. That is why it’s vital to clean your fence as much possible.
If you get your wood fence properly installed and constantly maintain it, your fence could last as long as 15 years.
Final Fence Advantages & Disadvantages
Despite all the elements we have discussed, there are other simple pros and cons for both wood fences and chain link fences.
- Provides extra security
- Separates your land from neighboring property
- Deters burglars
- Can add a design flair to your home
- Can improve curb appeal
- Keeps pets and children within the property
- Can be expensive
- Need extra time to maintain
- Some associate fences with unfriendly neighbors
- Many fences are hard to install and thus need a professional for installation.
Needless to say, the battle is pretty even. While wood fences certainly provide the beauty and privacy one envisions with any fence, chain link fences are inexpensive and easy to install. The final decision is yours!
For more fencing cost information, please see the rest of our fencing cost estimators.