"Vinyl Fences Can be Surprisingly Stylish" — From Privacy and Picket to Lattice and More

Choose the right vinyl fence idea to suit your yard with this expert advice

vinyl picket fence around a property
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vinyl fence ideas are increasingly popular. One of the reasons being that (PVC) vinyl fences are easy to maintain. There's generally no need to repaint or reseal a vinyl fence. Just a rub down with some soapy water and a cloth or a rinse with a hose will do.

There are plenty of vinyl fence styles too. These styles replicate those of wood and metal fences. From tongue-and-groove wood-effect privacy fences to white picket, or lattice panels, there are modern and traditional versions of each style, with numerous colors on offer too.

Some vinyl fences even replicate the look of wrought iron railings. All in all, vinyl fences can be surprisingly stylish — just decide what your garden goals are before buying, whether privacy, pet containment, curb appeal or security.

However, do also bear in mind that vinyl fencing is synthetic (PVC) and will not biodegrade. It's also as vulnerable to storm damage as any other type of fence.

As with any fence installation, check with your local municipality regarding property lines and any permits that may be required, before installation.

1. Solid privacy fences

white vinyl privacy fence around a property

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A vinyl privacy fence mimics the look of a timber privacy fence, with adjoining tongue-and-groove boards that meet. These boards can be laid out either vertically or horizontally.

Much like this type of wood fence, horizontal panels offer a cleaner, more contemporary look and are a popular choice, while vertical panels have more traditional appeal.

These styles are available with various wood grain effects and timber tones or in a wide choice of colors. Vinyl privacy fences can be custom made to a height that suits or bought 'off-the-shelf' at around four ft to eight ft tall.

'First, consider the purpose of your fence,' says Angie Hicks, co-founder of home care and maintenance site, Angi. 'Picket fences are great for decoration, but don’t offer any privacy. If you’re looking for a privacy fence, opt for a solid, basketweave or vertical vinyl fence instead.'

'Think about your pets too. If you have small pets, avoid fences with large gaps where they can escape. If you have large pets, make sure your fence is strong enough to keep them contained.

'Generally, vertical vinyl fences and some types of picket fences are good options for pet owners.'

2. Semi-privacy fences

vinyl semi-privacy fence from Superior Fence & Rail

(Image credit: Superior Fence & Rail)

A semi-privacy fence is one where the panels have slatted boards with slim gaps between them. Again, these are available in a vertical or horizontal layout.

These fences are not only a stylish option, they are good if you live in a region prone to high winds, as it can blow through the slim gaps, reducing its impact. Passers-by will be able to see through the slats too. So consider climbing plants to cover a fence if you'd like to block the view in an elegant way.

'It's important to consider how your fence will affect your neighbors,' says Perimtec's expert. 'Communicate with them about your plans and look for a solution that works for everyone. Consider how your needs may change over time and how your fence may affect the resale value of your home.'

According to Liberty Fence & Railing, some PVC vinyl fences are made with lead-based resins (which are hazardous to health), as they are cheaper to manufacture. So check with the supplier and ensure any vinyl fencing you choose is made without lead contaminants.

3. Decorative details

vinyl semi privacy fence with lattice topper

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Consider adding decorative details to a solid privacy or semi-privacy fence. Lattice panels, a row of pickets or a simple rail will add extra flair or a smart finish. With these accents your vinyl fence can look cool and contemporary, elegant and understated or traditional.

Those drawn to painted garden fences can emulate a similar look with an array of vinyl colors too. From black, white and grey to shades of red, green, blue and more, it's possible to achieve the appearance of a painted garden fence without the maintenance.

Choose a timeless tone with longevity, rather than a fashionable shade that will date, as most vinyl fences can't be repainted.

'Some neighborhoods have restrictions on fence heights, styles and colors,' says Angie Hicks. 'Before you decide on your fence specifications, check your HOA rules to see if you need to work around any restrictions.'

'If you're opting for color, keep in mind you may have to clean light-colored fences more often than darker fences.

'The height of your fence is another consideration. Taller fences offer more privacy, while shorter fences can offer you a view of nearby trees or scenery. Tall fences also have the advantage of added security, which may offer extra protection against intruders.'

4. Picket fences

vinyl picket fence with scalloped finish

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are as many vinyl picket fences styles as there are timber picket fence styles. From the classic white Victorian pickets to staggered, scalloped, crowned and framed versions, there's ample choice.

As with timber, vinyl fences tend to be around three ft high and you can choose pointed, flat or dog ear finishes on the pickets.

Picket fences are best if privacy isn't an issue and you just want to create an attractive border — they work well for front yard landscaping. Again a variety of timber-look tones and colors are available.

'Vinyl picket fences are durable, low-maintenance and offer a unique and classic look,' says Angie Hicks. 'Scalloped and arched designs are particularly popular, but you can customize your vinyl picket fence to achieve any look you want.'

5. Lattice fences

vinyl lattice fence

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vinyl lattice fences resemble timber lattice fences with square or diagonal pattern options available. The Old English square lattice offers a classic backdrop to offset colorful flowers and provides climbing plants an elegant frame, while the diagonal lattice has a more traditional look.

Lattice fences are a stylish option that will add character to the exterior of your home. If you are growing plants near or over your vinyl fence, one of the advantages is that you won't need to repaint it.

'Lattice fences are great if you want a see-through fence that still gives you some privacy,' says Angie. 'Depending on the design you choose, some lattice fences offer more privacy than others. 'Lattice fences are most popular in garden areas because they can act as a trellis for climbing plants.

'If you like the look of lattice fences but want more privacy, consider getting a vertical vinyl privacy fence with lattice accents.'

6. Basketweave fences

vinyl basketweave fence from The American Fence Company

(Image credit: The American Fence Company)

If you want something a little more unusual than vertical or horizontal slats, another decorative style is a basketweave fence. As the name suggests, flat vinyl slats are arranged to look like they've been woven together. It's a unique effect that still offers privacy.

7. Post and rail fences

post and rail vinyl fence

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Designed to look like the post and rail fences you might see around a ranch or rural property to contain animals, these vinyl versions will do a similar job.

There is minimal maintenance required, although the same can be said of a cedar fence, which would blend with the landscape.

'If you'd like your fence harmonize with nature, consider earthy tones such as tan, beige, or clay,' says Perimtec's expert.

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.