Wood fences are among the most beautiful when they are first installed. They have great visual appeal and conjure up images of Kentucky Thoroughbred farms and rolling green hills. However, despite their popularity, most wood fence owners will tell you wood fences are the highest maintenance of all types of fences. Wood fences must be treated or painted often. Depending on the type of paint, regional climate and other factors, the average wood fence owner can expect a costly paint or seal job every two years or so to maintain the appearance and protect the wood which is very vulnerable to the weather. Over time, nails begin to pull out of the posts and rail boards begin to fall. Finally, cracked or splintered lumber becomes unstable, deeming the fence non-functional, unappealing and unsafe. Also, wood fences are not practical for all types of livestock. Cattle and horses tend to graze through and lean against the rails as they do with any fence, thus loosening nails and breaking boards. Wood fences are among the most expensive to install, have shorter life spans than steel and require the most maintenance.
Pipe and rod fences are sturdy and can also be aesthetically pleasing depending on the installer. However, traditional pipe and rod fences can be demanding and expensive to maintain. Cracked or broken welds are common and require skilled labor and machinery most people do not have around the house. That puts the owner at the mercy of the fence builder which can cost time and money over the years. Coupled with chemical rust treatments and paint every three to five years, maintenance is a continuous process on these fences.
Vinyl or plastic fences, like wood fences, are very eye catching. However, many people feel they are among the most impractical of all fences for the containment of livestock. Since horses and cattle tend to lean on fences and graze through rails, owners of vinyl fences are constantly repairing rails that simply "pop out". Not to mention the danger involved with livestock leaving their confinement and roaming onto highways. Also, depending on the region, weather can play havoc on the material causing it to deteriorate over time. Mildew and mold are a battle for many fence owners but some vinyl fences tend to host these bacteria more so than other materials. Vinyl fences are also among the most expensive of all types of fences.
Barbed or woven wire fences are among the least expensive fences to install and usually serve fine for containment. However, they may be unsafe for certain livestock, especially equine, which has led to a decrease in its popularity. Although still the most common type of fence in the United States, it lacks the visual appeal that most people desire and does require constant maintenance due to sagging wires and t-posts being knocked down by livestock.