The Ultimate Guide to Fencing Materials for Homeowners and Contractors

Fence materials sold by America's Fence Store.

Choose the right fence material for enhancing privacy, containing children and pets, or marking boundaries.

For centuries, fencing has been a staple of western engineering, initially serving two distinct functions up through the 1800s. Either they were impassive barriers keeping out intruders and/or containing inmates, or they functioned as identifiable boundary markers. A classic example of the latter is ranch rail fencing. When early settlers established homesteads in the Americas, ranch rail proved an economic means of delineating where property began and ended. The long, spacious rails signified property lines while consuming less lumber than, say, the solid panels necessary for prisons. (This allotted ranchers leftover timber for building/repairing houses!) At the same time, ranch rail’s build was sufficient for containing livestock. For all these reasons, it remains common in rural areas, and wood clings to its status as a popular fence material.

Of course, ranch rail’s not always the top—or even practical—choice, especially today. Over the years, new fencing scenarios have arisen by the dozen, resulting in new barrier styles. What’s more, people no longer default solely to wood when selecting materials: the market thrives with options ranging from low-maintenance PVC to dependable chain link metal. Each comes with its own set of advantages, which we’ll explain in today’s blog post.

photograph of vinyl fence materials sold by America's Fence Store.


Although first developed by French chemist Henri Victor Regnault in 1835, it wasn’t until the last few decades that PVC became a staple in fence construction. Since then, it’s exploded in popularity due to distinct advantages over other materials such as wood. Wood is very susceptible to temperature-related damage. Vinyl, however, is self-extinguishing (requiring temperatures exceeding 900 degrees to catch fire) and highly resilient to extreme cold. It is also a waterproof material, effortlessly shedding water rather than absorbing it. For this reason, you don’t have to regularly paint and stain a vinyl fence, and you consequently spend less on fence upkeep.

Minimal maintenance is key to vinyl’s popularity, especially when treated like the materials sold here at America’s Fence Store. Our vinyl products feature a special chemical formulation similar to sunscreen, which helps prevent UV damage. Your fence won’t become discolored or faded. More inviting in appearance than metal and less costly to maintain than wood, PVC has earned its place as a dominant fence material in the world market.

Pro Tip: Cleaning a vinyl fence is easy. When your panels become dirty, use a mild detergent and water to wash away debris. For tougher stains, you can try anything from baking soda to the all-purpose cleaner Simple Green.

Wood fence materials from America's Fence Store.


That is not to say wood fence materials don’t have merits. On the contrary, wood remains incredibly popular all these centuries later, especially in residential areas. Its organic appearance and natural tone create a welcoming atmosphere, and it’s generally cheaper than PVC. Meaning you’ll have extra money left over for installation and maintenance.

Today, wood fence materials are used to assemble multiple barrier styles for multiple purposes, such as solid privacy panels for homeowners wanting to keep prying eyes off their yard activity. (A privacy fence is also good for containing children and pets, who are less prone to leave the yard if they can’t see distractions on the other side. What’s more, the tautly packed slats in your fencing mean they can’t crawl through and escape, anyhow. And flat surfacing is not so easily climbed as, say, chain link.) For those wanting a little more curb appeal, a classic picket fence—part of the quintessential American home package since World War II—will do!

Pro Tip: Wood’s more vulnerable than metal and PVC. Since it derives from trees, wood retains its absorptive qualities, never giving up the “thirst” for water. As such, an unprotected fence absorbs all fluids it comes in contact with—rain, moisture, melting snow, overspray from your garden hose or sprinkler, etc. Since the tree’s dead, it doesn’t process the water, merely containing it; and when winter hits, the water freezes into ice, breaking apart your fence. This is what causes those ugly knobs and cracks you often see in wood fence materials.  For this reason, plan on painting and staining your fence every few years.

Chain link fence materials from America's Fence Store.

Chain Link

Chain link’s rise in the fencing world was decades in the making. Englishman Charles Barnard first developed a technique for weaving metal wires into a mesh—in the manner of a cloth-wielding machine—in 1844 and his invention quickly sold in Europe. Chain link fencing first arrived in the United States in 1891 but didn’t reach its true heights of popularity until World War II. Metal conservation was heavily enforced during the war, hindering production of solid iron fencing. But demand for sturdy fencing at home still prevalent during the war; and so, chain link, made of wires and requiring less material, rose to fill the void.

Especially common in commercial applications, chain link permits visibility and airflow. Construction teams, in particular, are dependent on this fence material, as it keeps out non-workers while allowing dust and debris to filter out of the work site. It’s likewise a go-to installation for athletic settings. After all, spectators at a baseball game need protection from projectiles—not to mention players lunging to catch the ball—but still need a clear view of the action.

Pro Tip: Chain link’s not so practical for homeowners with kids and pets, as the diamond-shaped gaps in the weave can be climbed. However, high-security venues such as correctional facilities solve this with add-ons such as barbed wire. America’s Fence Store offers a healthy supply of barbed wire arms: ones that add extra height to the fence, others that project wires toward the fence interior and make escape even more difficult.

Ornamental fence made from materials sold by America's Fence Store.


Perfect for homeowners and commercial enterprises wanting a fine mix of security and inviting atmosphere. Ornamental fencing comes in four distinct types: steel – flat top, steel – spear top, aluminum – flat top, and aluminum – spear top. All four are incredibly rust resistant, which preserves fence integrity and increases safety. After all, you don’t want to be liable for a client’s tetanus shot when they accidentally cut themselves on a rusty fence.

Pro Tip: Ornamental fence materials are commonly used for pool fencing. Likewise, if you’re planning to sell your home, consider installing ornamental fencing to boost your property value. After all, buyers are more likely to purchase a home that has a fence installed rather than go to the trouble and expense of installing one themselves.

Where can I buy dependable fence materials for my project?

America’s Fence Store is the nation’s leading online fence platform. Accessing an inventory of vinyl, chain link, ornamental, and wood fence materials more than eighteen acres in size, we have the entire itinerary for projects of all sizes. Whether you’re a contractor hired to assemble a high-security fence for a substation or a Do It Yourself homeowner replacing broken rails on an existing vinyl ranch rail fence, look no further for your supplies. In addition to rails, posts, and chain link mesh, we sell all the necessary fittings such as top rail sleeves, chain link wire ties, and fence caps. We ship nationwide!