What Are the Pros and Cons of PVC Vinyl Fences?

Trading One Type of "Staining" for Another

Vinyl fence
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Are you exploring alternatives to traditional wood fencing? Then vinyl fences could be the answer for you. But first consider their advantages and disadvantages.

The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Fences

While much fencing designed for privacy or decoration has traditionally been made of wood, PVC vinyl fences have become quite popular (PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride). But like any other material, it has both benefits and drawbacks.

Here are some of the pros and cons of vinyl fences:

Pros:

  1. They offer low maintenance: you will never have to worry about painting or staining again.
  2. At a distance, some high-quality vinyl fences do resemble the traditional wood fence designs for which they are substitutes.
  3. They do not splinter, making them a child-friendly alternative.

Cons:

  1. Since PVC does expand and contract as temperatures fluctuate, this material becomes more brittle in the cold, making it susceptible to damage.
  2. Up close, a vinyl fence is a vinyl fence, any resemblance to wood from afar notwithstanding. For the true lover of the look, smell and feel of wood, no substitute will do.
  3. Another drawback is the price. Vinyl fences are more expensive than their wooden counterparts in terms of upfront cost. However, you may save money in the long run, after maintenance costs for wood are considered.
  4. A final con to mention is build-up of algae, mold and mildew, which cause unsightly staining.

    How to Clean Stains Off PVC Vinyl Fences

    Reader, Joanne reminded me of that final disadvantage. She says that her neighbor installed a white PVC vinyl fence for privacy along their property line. "Within a year," reports Joanne, "the north side which faces my front door (my home is sideways on my lot) had green and black stains all over it.

    It is a mess now" (see picture above).

    The good news is that it is not difficult to clean off such staining on a vinyl fence, although it is, indeed, bothersome. Just bring out a soft cloth, a pail of warm water, a bottle of dish-washing liquid, and a garden hose. Hose down your fencing to remove the majority of the stains. To clean off the rest, squeeze some of the dish-washing liquid into the pail and mix it into the water. Then dip your cloth into the pail, and proceed to scrub the fencing down. Finish by rinsing off your PVC vinyl fence with the hose.