Is PVC better than Timber Fencing? In Australia 2022
As a fencing material is PVC better than timber? When comes to the classic picket fence, using PVC pickets can offer the same aesthetic appeal, but with improved durability, strength and for a cheaper price point.
Deciding on a material to use for a fence is no easy feat. There are hundreds of things to consider: cost, sturdiness, life span, aesthetics, potential problems, warranties and more. If you haven’t got hours spare to research different materials, it can quickly become an overwhelming task.
Timber is one of the most common, well-known and relatively affordable fencing materials. It may be the first fencing option that you consider, for these reasons. Timber may be the best option for you and your household, but there is a new contender to consider: PVC. Similar to timber in many ways, yet wildly different in others, PVC may be a better option as a fencing material for your property. So, is PVC better than timber fencing?
What is PVC?
PVC may be a new term to you. However, you have probably heard of vinyl. Vinyl is a synthetic material made from ethylene and chlorine – two chemicals found in salt and crude oil. If you combine ethylene and chlorine, they bond and create the vinyl we know. Vinyl is often used for flooring, window frames and pipes. PVC is the same thing. PVC is simply a class of vinyl made from polyvinyl chloride and a polymer of vinyl chloride. PVC is the most popular class of vinyl to be used for fencing n Australia. Despite being a type of plastic, PVC is not terrible for the environment. Crude oil is a waste product that would otherwise be thrown out, so using it to make a fence could be seen as recycling! The PVC itself is also completely recyclable once it’s lived its life as your fence. PVC comes in a wide range of sizes, shapes, designs and colours.
What is Merbau timber?
There’s a huge range of different types of timber – just think about how many species of trees there are in the world! One of the most popular types of timber that is used for fencing in Australia, as well as being Jim’s Fencing timber of choice, is Merbau.
Merbau is a hardwood variety of timber, which is typically considered to be better quality than a softwood or pine variety. Hardwoods are known for their porous wood grains that distribute moisture and nutrients evenly across the structure. This makes the fence stronger overall.
Merbau hails from South East Asia, Northern Queensland and the Pacific Islands. Its Indigenous name is ‘Kwila’. The most notable feature of Merbau is its beautiful colour. It’s a beautiful golden-brown shade that will transform your property. Unlike other types of wood, which tend to get yellow or grey as they get old, the colour of Merbau deepens as it ages. Some people prefer the colour of a Merbau fence that is twenty or thirty years old! It also has a unique interlocking grain pattern on the wood.
Merbau fencing is available in many different designs – picket fence, paling fence, hybrid timber feature walls or post and rail.
What are the differences between PVC and timber fencing?
Have you seen a picket fence lately? Walking past it, did you assume it was made of timber? Well, you may be right. Typically, and historically, white picket fences are made of painted wood. However, the fence you saw recently may also be made of PVC. Timber has been around since the dawn of the first fences. Compared to that, PVC has only shot to popularity since around the 1980s. You might have only heard about it in passing and are unaware of the many benefits PVC fencing has.
If you could not tell the difference between the two types of materials, then just what are they? Appearance-wise, these two materials look the same if the fence is intended to be painted white, black or another colour. PVC can also be painted to look like wood, with a grain pattern – however, certain types of timber are not able to be imitated, so this depends on the aesthetic you’re after. Although it is an available option, Merbau has a very distinct look and colour that most people won’t paint over.
Warranties can differ between classes of PVC and timber. Merbau timber can be installed with a 10-25-year warranty, and PVC can come with a 10-50-year warranty. These numbers are dependent on the type of material used, the style of the fence and if it was professionally installed or not.
Strength is a feature that PVC and Merbau timber both have in spades. If you want a sturdy, reliable fence, you honestly can’t go wrong with either. Saying that – vinyl is approximately five times stronger than wood. You can choose either of the two materials if you want a formidable fence. If you have several large dogs, are very safety-concerned or live in an area prone to extreme weather conditions, then you may want to opt for PVC.
Maintenance is not a significant concern for either of these fences, thankfully. As with strength, PVC does slightly win in this category as well. As a synthetic material, it’s impervious to the majority of inflictions. The vinyl is strong enough not to warp and resistant to termites and rot. As a natural material, these are concerns for timber fences. As a tannin-rich wood, Merbau is less so affected by these symptoms than other types of wood. However, it still may be an issue. Wooden fences are more likely to be damaged through these natural causes, whereas PVC is more likely to be damaged through a major catastrophe like being hit by a car or a fence falling on it. Both fences are easy to repair, and the materials are easy to replace.
The Australian climate is a harsh, unforgiving environment. Lower quality wood often has no chance against the relentless sun and will succumb to rotting or sagging. Merbau is a class of timber that retains a lot of natural oils. This allows it to withstand excessive heat and sunshine and withstand dry, biting winters. PVC’s surface is slightly more impervious to these weather conditions, beating out Merbau as it did in the maintenance issue. Both types of materials will do well.
Affordability is a bonus for both of these materials. Both timber and PVC are inexpensive materials compared to other types of fences (such as Colorbond or glass). As they are both easy to work with, installation costs for these two fences will also be budget friendly. Maintenance fees will also be minimal, although timber will cost more if it succumbs to rot
So, which material is better?
To sum it up, both materials have their unique strengths. If your priority is an incredibly strong wall that will last decades, a PVC fence would typically be your pick.
Timber, however, is a beautiful, natural material that you may prefer if appearance is your main priority. Painted PVC can imitate the look of wood but is not comparable, especially when next to timber with a depth of colour like Merbau has. If you want your timber fence to be a feature piece of your yard, timber is the way to go.
Luckily, you can’t really go wrong with this decision. As explored above, both fences come with extended warranties, are very secure and have natural or synthetic defences against the Australian climate.
To get an obligation free quote on your PVC or Merbau fence, call Jim’s Fencing Melbourne on 13 15 46.