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Elevating Your Yard: Comparing Six Common Fencing Materials

June 20th, 2024 | 5 min read

By Jacob Livingston

comparing common fencing materials vinyl fence with rock masonry wall custom built michigan

As Michigan homeowners, the quest for the perfect fencing material can be exciting and daunting. Your choice affects how your outdoor space looks, works, lasts, and how much upkeep it needs.

Making an informed decision is essential, from classic wood to modern vinyl and aluminum. With over 15 years of experience in transforming backyards, we're here to help you choose the best fence for your home.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of six common fencing materials that will hold up well in Michigan’s climate:

  1. Wood Fencing
  2. Vinyl Fencing
  3. Aluminum Fencing
  4. Composite Fencing
  5. Chain Link Fencing
  6. Masonry Fencing

Fencing Goal: Privacy vs. Containment Fence

When choosing a fence for your Michigan yard, decide if you need privacy or containment. Privacy fences block the view of your yard, while containment fences keep pets or children safe. Knowing your goal will help you pick the right material for your needs, whether for privacy, safety, or marking boundaries.

1. Wood Fencing

comparing common fencing materials wood fence with landscaping foliage custom built michigan

Wood fencing is still popular in Michigan for its classic look and natural charm.

Treated pine and cedar are two common wood species used for fencing, each with advantages and considerations. Treated pine is the most affordable option, while cedar is more weather and rot-resistant. However, regardless of the species, wood fencing needs regular maintenance, like staining and sealing.


  • Customizable: Wood fences with various styles, stains, and finishes can be customized.
  • Natural Aesthetic: Wood fencing provides a classic, natural look that blends well with outdoor spaces.
  • Cost-Effective: Treated pine wood fencing is often the most affordable. This makes it accessible for homeowners with different budgets.


  • High Maintenance: Needs regular maintenance like staining, sealing, and repairs. This prevents weathering, rot, and insect damage.
  • Limited Lifespan: Even with maintenance, wood fences don't last as long as other materials. They may need replacement or repairs over time.
  • Susceptible to Damage: It is often susceptible to warping, splitting, and discoloration, particularly in areas with harsh weather or high humidity.

2. Vinyl Fencing

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Vinyl fencing is an attractive choice for homeowners seeking a low-maintenance fencing option.

Vinyl fences withstand weather and temperature changes well, suiting Michigan's unpredictable weather. Unlike wood, vinyl fencing never rots and requires minimal upkeep, saving homeowners time and money in the long run.

However, vinyl fencing is often thinner, which could impact its durability, especially during storms.


  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal upkeep, as it is impervious to rot, weather damage, and insect infestations. This will save you time and money on maintenance.
  • Durability: Lasts long and endures intense weather, UV rays, and temperature changes without damage.
  • Variety of Styles: Available in a range of styles, colors, and textures. This allows you to choose the option that best compliments your property's aesthetic.


  • Limited Colors: Vinyl fences offer few color choices, restricting design options.
  • Cold Vulnerability: Vinyl fences may become brittle and prone to cracking in cold climates.
  • Thin Panels: Vinyl fences have thinner panels, especially in windy areas, impacting their strength.

3. Aluminum Fencing

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Aluminum fencing offers a sleek and modern alternative to traditional materials like wood, vinyl, and iron.

Aluminum fencing is durable and weather-resistant, perfect for Michigan's climate. While it may cost more upfront, its long lifespan and minimal upkeep make it a smart choice if you are looking for lasting quality.


  • Low Maintenance: Aluminum fencing requires minimal maintenance. It is resistant to rust, corrosion, and weather damage, making it ideal for long-term use in outdoor environments.
  • Strength: Aluminum fences hold up well against impact and weather, staying intact for a long time.
  • Variety: With various styles and colors, aluminum fencing offers homeowners plenty of choices to match their property's style.


  • Costly: Aluminum fencing is pricier, costing $75-$85 per linear foot, which might not suit those with tight budgets. It’s important to note that this cost range will fluctuate depending on the brand.
  • Privacy: Aluminum fences offer minimal privacy due to their open designs. Making this product less ideal for those desiring visual privacy.
  • Installation Difficulty: Installing aluminum fencing may require specialized tools and professional help, which adds to the project's complexity and expenses.

4. Composite Fencing

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Composite fencing is a new addition to the market, offering a blend of durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance.

Composite fencing blends wood fibers and recycled plastic for a wood-like appearance with plastic's durability. Like composite decking, it’s modern, long-lasting, and eco-friendly, making it a great choice for hassle-free yard borders.


  • Durability: Offers a long lifespan (30-50 years), depending on the manufacturer.
  • Low Maintenance: Combines the best of wood and plastic, requiring minimal upkeep.
  • Modern Aesthetic: Provides a sleek, contemporary look with horizontal and vertical slat options.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Composite fencing is made from recycled materials, reducing the need for new wood and plastic. It also helps keep waste out of landfills.


  • Cost: A premium material, composite is more expensive than other fencing options, costing around $230 per linear foot.
  • Limited Manufacturers: Fewer options are available, and quality can vary between manufacturers.
  • Installation Complexity: Best installed by professional installation to ensure it looks good and lasts long.

5. Chain Link Fencing

comparing common fencing materials chain link fence gate in yard custom built michigan

PC: The Home Depot

Chain link fencing is a practical and budget-friendly choice for Michigan homeowners seeking durability. It's made of tough galvanized steel, ensuring longevity and security. Though it may not look as fancy as other options, its strength and visibility make it perfect for properties needing security and openness.

Chain link fencing can also be customized with vinyl coatings or paint to match your aesthetic preferences.


  • Durability: Made of galvanized steel, chain link fences are robust and can last for decades.
  • Cost-Effective: One of the most affordable fencing options available, costing $8-$40 per linear foot.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal upkeep and is resistant to weather conditions.


  • Aesthetics: Not as appealing as other fencing options, often considered industrial or utilitarian.
  • Privacy: Offers little to no privacy unless covered with slats or vegetation.
  • Rust Potential: While durable, chain link fences can become rusty without proper maintenance.

6. Masonry Fencing

comparing common fencing materials masonry fence with bricks custom built michigan

PC: Southland Fence & Supply

Masonry fencing offers an attractive option for homeowners seeking a durable and customizable fencing solution. Made of materials like brick, stone, or concrete, masonry fencing is known for its strength, longevity, and aesthetic appeal.

Masonry fencing offers personalized designs, allowing homeowners to create unique outdoor spaces. Though it may be pricier upfront, its durability and classic look make it a smart long-term investment if you want a lasting, attractive fence.


  • Durability: Masonry fences, made from materials such as brick, stone, or concrete, are strong and can last up to 100 years!
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Masonry fences offer a classic and timeless look that can enhance the curb appeal of your property. They can also be customized to match the architectural style of your home.
  • Privacy and Security: Its solid structure provides excellent privacy and security. This makes it difficult for intruders to penetrate and reduces noise pollution.


  • Cost: Masonry fencing is more expensive than other fencing options, ranging from $80 to $480 per linear foot, due to the cost of materials and the labor-intensive installation process.
  • Installation: Requires professional installation, which can be time-consuming and costly. The construction process can also be disruptive to your property.
  • Flexibility: Once installed, masonry fences are not easily modified or removed. This lack of flexibility can be a drawback if you plan to change your landscaping or property layout.

Tips for Choosing the Right Fence

Here are a few strategies to use while researching for and choosing your fencing material:

  1. Define Your Priorities: Determine what matters most for your backyard.
  2. Conduct Thorough Research: Explore various materials based on maintenance, durability, cost, and aesthetics.
  3. Seek Professional Advice: Consult fencing experts and examine sample materials.
  4. Make an Informed Decision: Use your research to choose the best fencing material for your needs and budget.
  5. Enhance Your Outdoor Space: Select a fencing material that beautifies and improves functionality for the long term.

Next Steps to Remodeling Your Michigan Yard

If you're choosing a fencing material for your Michigan yard, you might be overwhelmed by the many options available.

Now that you've learned about the pros and cons of various fencing materials, you can decide based on your specific needs and preferences.

At Custom Built, we understand the importance of selecting the right fencing material for your Michigan yard. With over a decade of experience in the industry, we've helped countless homeowners enhance their outdoor spaces with durable and pleasing fencing solutions.

Ready to transform your Michigan yard with a new fence? Contact our team of experts today to discuss your options and get started on your project.

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Now that you know more about common fencing materials, let’s explore the top outdoor heating ideas, how much composite decks cost, and the projects that can increase the resale value of your home:

Jacob Livingston

Jacob brings 20+ years of residential construction experience to the Custom Built team. He has spent years in the field learning the hands-on side of building from foundation prep to roofing shingles. With a need-to-know mindset and a desire to understand how things work, Jacob has studied building science, systems integration, home inspection, and radon measurement and mitigation.