Pros and Cons of Privacy Fences

privacy fence

For many people, your yard is your sanctuary. It’s a place you unwind by having friends and family over for pool parties, barbecues, and brunches. For these and other occasions, privacy is important, and a privacy fence is the best way to achieve that.

But before you invest in a privacy fence, you should know this: There are pluses and minuses. Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of privacy fences so you make your decision with all the facts.

What is a Privacy Fence?

A privacy fence provides privacy. Of course. That’s obvious. But what exactly qualifies as a privacy fence? 

Privacy fences are usually at least 4 to 9 feet tall and have few to no gaps through which anyone can see. Anything shorter or more accessible to a passerby’s gaze doesn’t afford enough privacy. Other types such as white picket fences, chain link fences, and wrought iron fences are typically not considered privacy fences unless you plan to pair them with dense vegetation or shrubbery.

Knowing your individual privacy needs and personal aesthetic preferences is key to choosing a privacy fence that’s right for you. When you choose the right one, the pros far outweigh the cons. 

Pros of Privacy Fences

privacy fence
Photo Credit: U. J. Alexander / Canva Pro / License

Provides Privacy (Of Course)

No nosy neighbors, no feeling self-conscious in your backyard swimming pool, no worrying if passersby can see into your home. A privacy fence makes a world of difference, especially in suburban and urban areas where homes sit close to each other.

Why? Privacy is sacred, and people feel like they have less and less of it in this digital age. Owning a safe space to be yourself without fear of judgment is crucial to your quality of life. Privacy fences enable you to live freely and be yourself.

Offers Security

Many people with children or pets list privacy fences as a prerequisite during their home searches. The children and pets will have a hard time making their way onto busy roads or wandering off. Intruders and potential trespassers will be deterred, too.

Increases Property Value

Speaking of prospective homeowners, installing a privacy fence boosts your home’s value when it comes time to sell. The fence’s aesthetic, the quality of its condition, and the degree of privacy and security it affords all increase your house’s curb appeal. (Front yard fences do not always increase property value, however.)

A nice privacy fence can also block an unsightly view outside your property, making your kitchen window scene much easier on the eyes.  

Reduces Noise

It won’t shut out sounds entirely, but privacy fences can dull those pesky neighborhood noises – barking dogs, roaring leaf blowers, shouting kids, etc. They help make your yard feel like a secluded escape. 

Long-lasting and Durable

Depending on the materials used and how well you maintain them, privacy fences last a long time. Vinyl and composite fences, in particular, tend to require little maintenance since they’re resistant to warping, insects, mold, and rot. They last 20 to 30 years, making the steeper upfront costs worth it. 

Cons of a Privacy Fences

Photo Credit: U. J. Alexander / Canva Pro / License

Can Be Pricey

Depending on the type of fencing material, height, and length, building a fence can be expensive. Most homeowners pay between $1,800 to $7,000 for a privacy fence.

Needs Regular Maintenance

No matter what material your privacy fence is made of, cleaning it at least once annually will help it reach its maximum lifespan. Wooden fences must also be stained every 2 to 3 years, whereas you might never need to paint or treat a vinyl or composite one. The initial cost of composite, vinyl, and metal fences is higher, but upkeep is lower than wood fences.

Obstructs Break-Ins

While privacy fences do offer security by limiting access to your home, they can also make a burglar’s job easier because the fence allows them to hide from streetside view once they’re past the fence.

Tricker Lawn Care

You’ll need to be careful about mowing and trimming around your privacy fence once you install it. You can avoid irreparable damage by using a weed eater with a line, not a blade, to trim along the fence line, keeping a half inch away from the fence posts. A line will do less damage on contact and be easier to fix or replace if it breaks. 

Types and Costs of Privacy Fences

stockable privacy fence
Stockade Privacy fence
Photo Credit: KLH49 / Canva Pro / License

Choosing a privacy fence requires some thought. Start by assessing how much privacy you’re looking for, how much maintenance you are willing to endure, what your personal aesthetics are, and what you’re willing to pay for the fence up front. 

We’ve broken down types of privacy fences by their various materials and designs. 

Privacy Fence Materials

MaterialMaintenanceDurabilityCost per linear ft. (avg)
WoodMedium to highAbout 15 years$14-$31 
Vinyl and PVCLow20 to 30 years$17-$38 
AluminumLow20 to 30 years$19-$76
CompositeLow20 to 30 years$15-$45
BambooMedium 20 years$3-$6
MasonryLow20 to 30 years$25-35

Privacy Fence Designs

Stockade 

  • Simple, gapless side-by-side boards
  • Full privacy

Shadow box 

  • Boards alternate in front of and behind of rail, leaving gaps which are see-through at angles and creating a shadow box effect
  • Partial privacy

Board-on-board

  • Boards overlap 
  • Full privacy

Lock board

  • Boards lock together in a tongue-and-groove style that leaves no gaps
  • Full privacy

Lattice

  • Familiar criss-cross pattern; can enhance with vines
  • Partial privacy

Horizontal

  • Sleek, contemporary boards
  • Full privacy

FAQs about How to Choose the Best Privacy Fence

Are there any steps I need to take before installing my privacy fence?

Yes, you’ll want to make sure to take these three steps.

Check homeowners association regulations to ensure you can build one in your neighborhood.
Check city codes to see if there are any special rules about building fences in your city.
Obtain a permit if necessary.

Can I have privacy without a fence?

Yes, you could use super-sized planters, plant trees around your property, build a living wall, or implement other landscaping ideas.

Is it better to use cedar or pressure-treated wood for a privacy fence?

If you’re looking for durability or strength, cedar will retain its shape and last longer, while pressure-treated wood can warp after several years if untreated. 

Can I turn my chain link fence into a privacy fence?

Yes, there are DIY methods featuring slats, fence tape, plants, and more.

The Pros of Hiring a Pro

Now that you have an idea of what your privacy fence options are, you might be wondering if you should DIY or hire a pro for fence installation. The benefits of going with a fencing professional are that the job will be done right the first time and you can focus on important things in your life.

Main Image Credit: U. J. Alexander / Canva Pro / License

Zach Bridgeman

Zach Bridgeman

Zachery Bridgeman is a writer who grew up in Alabama and currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys writing fiction, painting, and exploring the city in his free time.