Radio interview source: Paul O'Reilly, President, Fence America
Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below
If you find you're constantly maintaining wood fences, you might be interested in composite fencing. It's a combination of resin and recycled wood fibers, making it durable and low-maintenance.
Paul O'Reilly is the president of a composite fencing company. He says while the material has many of the same properties as composite decking, there are some differences. "The streaking to give you a multi-chromatic look is a little bit heavier in the fencing, and the embossing is much rougher than it would be on a deck," he says. "It's a much thinner piece, it feels very hewn and rough, and it looks like redwood heartwood, which is not reserved for fencing anymore, and cedar heartwood which is not either."
Fence styles include privacy or post-and-rail. O'Reilly says most fences are professionally installed, but a handy do-it-yourselfer could follow the instructions. An early step is setting the posts in concrete.
"Those posts are 72" from center-to-center, and they have holes in them. If the holes are all the way through they're called line posts, there are corner posts, and there are end posts," O'Reilly says. "These rails actually fit in those holes, and you put one screw through the back of the post through the back of the backer rail in each intersection. So that's basically your framework, and then your infill gets stapled up after that."
There is virtually no maintenance on a composite fence. You might have to hose it down if it gets really dirty, but it does not fade, rot, split, or crack.
Composite fencing will likely be more expensive than wood, but it depends on where you live and the type of wood. Also factor in future maintenance costs on a wood fence, which you will not have with composite materials.