Like vinyl windows and siding, which are routinely used in homes, vinyl fencing offers significant advantages to the acreage owner. Also known as polyvinyl chloride or PVC fencing, it's easy to take apart, it's durable, and it will look good for many years (most manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty). Vinyl fencing is versatile; it can be used to enclose a pasture or paddock, define property lines, contain livestock, or create a training ring for horses.
Vinyl is the fastest-growing component of the fencing industry, says Jim Sweet, president of A Vinyl Fence Co., a distributor in San Jose, California. "It has been growing at 30% a year for the past eight years," says Sweet.
Safer for horses
Compared to other fence materials such as wood, aluminum, wrought iron, and steel, vinyl is far superior, Sweet says. "Wood rots, gets termites, needs to be painted frequently, and it splinters and breaks. With horses, wood is incredibly dangerous because it can injure the animal."
Unlike iron, a vinyl fence won't corrode, says Mary Willard, marketing manager for Kroy Building Products, a manufacturer in York, Nebraska. Vinyl discourages horses from cribbing (chewing) because they don't like the feel of it on their teeth, Willard says.
A vinyl fence is also more resilient than wood and will "give" under extreme stress. The rails may disengage from the posts, but they won't break.
Initially, vinyl fencing costs about one third more than wood and about the same as steel. However, the investment will pay off in about seven years because virtually no maintenance is required. To remove dirt, mold, and mildew, just hose off the fence or pressure-wash it with a mild detergent.
The color, like the material itself, is very durable and won't fade, chip, or peel. In comparison, wood requires regular painting and repair in addition to the initial cost.
One disadvantage of vinyl fencing is that it's usually not available in darker colors. White, light tan, and light gray are common choices. "As much as people want forest green and chocolate brown, those are colors that vinyl manufacturers stay away from. They tend to absorb heat and cause the vinyl to bow," says Denny Yoder, president of Royal Crown Limited, Milford, Indiana.
Manufacturers often debate the merits of 100% virgin vinyl versus co-extruded vinyl. In the co-extrusion process, two layers are bonded together. The inner layer, or substrate, absorbs impact while the outer layer is treated with UV inhibitors and other chemicals to protect it from the elements. The inner layer gives co-extruded vinyl added strength, whereas thin-walled virgin vinyl can be damaged by flying stones thrown by lawn mowers or cars.
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