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How About a Vinyl Fence or Deck?

A plastic fence might seem to violate our traditional sense of aesthetics, born out of years painting the picket fence, right back to Huckleberry Finn. But wood is no longer the automatic choice. New synthetic materials offer easy maintenance and high durability for decks and fences. And they can look great.

Your fence or deck will make a big impression on your neighbors and friends, so aesthetics naturally play a big role in your choice of material. Ideally, whatever you build should look like it belongs there, or at least be complementary in style and design to your home. You want it to blend in, not stick out like a sore thumb.

Surprisingly, vinyl fencing is available in many styles and designs from straight to scalloped and modern to colonial. The colors and finishes are just as varied. Your fence might not betray its synthetic origin until closer inspection. Tell your neighbor that your fence is vinyl and they might do a double take, thinking they saw wood instead.

The wood vs. vinyl dilemma centers on cost and durability, too. It comes down to what's more important, money or maintenance. A synthetic deck will cost more in materials than pressure-treated pine. How much are you willing to spend for materials? Then ask how much you can tolerate staining, painting or treating your wooden fence or deck. Fences need attention every two to three years. There is no choice in the matter if you want to keep your fence from chipping, rotting or splintering.

You can look forward to many years of scrubbing and sealing your pine deck, too, on an annual or semi-annual basis. Without proper maintenance, wooden decking swells and shrinks with changes in temperature and moisture, which causes cracking, curling and cupping, especially in colder and wetter climates. Your deck can be a danger zone if the nails start popping out and slivers appear.

Vinyl does not require nails or screws to install. The outer surface should also be resistant to ultraviolet rays and the kind of fading or discoloring that might occur on poorly maintained wood. Be sure to explore the full range of synthetic materials and read their warranties carefully. Recycled plastic, for example, made up of milk jugs and plastic detergent bottles that otherwise would have gone into the trash, might appeal to your environmental sensitivities. Hybrid products blend synthetic materials with sawdust or other natural components.

Sources used to create this article include Article Resource Association.

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