Gardens

What is Composite Fencing?

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Composite fencing looks and feels like a real wood fence, but it's not. It's generally made from recycled materials such as plastic and wood fibers. Read on to find out more.

What is Composite Fencing?

The "composite" in composite fencing refers to the process of binding 2 or more dissimilar materials together to create something new and generally stronger; in this case wood fibers and plastic. Years before there was composite fencing, composite lumber was used mostly in decks. Composite lumber can be a lot more expensive than wood, and it was a long time before the companies that made composite decks had a lot of requests for composite fences. It was easier for people to justify to themselves that the expense was worth it when it came to something that they used almost everyday for activities ranging from relaxing in the sun to hosting a family barbeque. Eventually the increasing demand for low-maintenance "green" materials had people looking to composite lumber for their fencing needs too.

Benefits

Fences made from composite materials are strong, durable, and they are mostly unaffected by moisture. Composite fencing is also low maintenance. Most of the time all you have to do is hose your fence down and let it dry. Stubborn areas can be taken care of with a pressure washer or cleaning fluids and a scrub brush.

The ease at which composite fencing can be put up is also appealing. The steps to install composite fencing is much the same as with wood fencing; there is usually no call for special tools, which are expensive and a lot of people view as a waste of money because they are only used for one project. Some manufactures make it so that traditional woodworking tools, such as routers and table saws, can be used for construction and customization. The ability to customize your fence and make it unique is much better than with vinyl fencing (another popular alternative to wood fencing).

There are environmental benefits to using composite fencing as well. The people who make composite decking and fencing were "green" before it became popular. Most composite fencing is made from 50 to 100 percent recycled materials. It keeps plastics like shrink wrap and grocery bags out of the landfills, and it creates a use for leftover wood pulp from paper mills that would normally go to waste. Another point in composite fencing's favor is that it isn't laced with chemicals like pressure treated wood is. These chemicals can sometimes leech into the surrounding area-especially if the structure or fence is several years old and decaying- and the sawdust from pressure treated wood can be hazardous to your health if ingested or inhaled.

Uses

Composite fencing has a wide variety of uses. It doesn't rot or decay, so it is ideal for constructing a compost bin. You can also use it to build a privacy fence for your pool or hot tub. Before you purchase the materials, though, make sure it won't stain if splashed with chlorinated water. If you are looking to fence in your yard to keep kids and pets in or unwanted visitors out, the strength and durability of composite fencing as opposed to vinyl fencing makes it the better choice.

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Photo copyright Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org)

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