All About Fencing

Building a fence can boost your home’s security and privacy

Fences have two main purposes: security and privacy. This guide will teach you which material is best for your security needs while blending perfectly with your home and yard. 

Tip: Whichever fence material you choose, remember that you can purchase panels for quick and easy installation. Rails and pickets can help you customize your fence to match the slope of your yard.

Wood Fences

Wood Fences

Solid wood fences are versatile and graded on the quality of the wood’s appearance. Use the most popular wood type for your region. Lumber has a lower upfront cost than wood alternatives, is easy to seal or stain, and retains finishes well. 

Tip: Although different wood species are typically available and used in specific areas of the U.S., all of The Home Depot’s solid wood can be purchased through Special Order at your local Home Depot store.  



  • Resists moisture, rot, insects
  • Easy to seal or stain
  • Weathers to gray when left untreated
  • Popular in Pacific Northwest U.S.


  • Resists insects and rot
  • Absorbs and retains all finishes
  • Popular in Western and Southwestern U.S.
Southern Yellow Pine

Southern Yellow Pine

  • Must be treated for outdoor use to resist rot and termites
  • Popular in Northern, Southern, Midwestern U.S.

The highest grade wood is rated clear, followed by premium, select, standard and quality.

The Home Depot does not purchase wood products from old-growth forests or rainforests. We only offer Earth-friendly products. See our Wood Purchasing Policy for more information.

Fence Anatomy

No matter the type of fence you choose, the main elements remain the same.  

Fence Anatomy
  • 1. End Post Cap: Rounded cap used to protect end posts
  • 2. Brace Band: Used to hold the rail end in place
  • 3. Tension Band: Used to attach the chain link fence fabric to line posts and end posts
  • 4. Terminal Post: End, corner and gate posts
  • 5. Rail Cup: Holds the top rails and secures them to the terminal posts
  • 6. Tension Bar: Vertical bar that secures the chain link fabric to the tension bands and posts
  • 7. Tension Wire: Can be added to the bottom of a chain link fence to discourage animals from pushing underneath the fence
  • 8. Rail: Horizontal bar that spans the top of the fence
  • 9. Line Post Cap: Ringed cap that rests on top of the line posts and holds the rails
  • 10. Line Post Eye Top: Corrosion-resistant with a polished look, fits on top of line posts to help support rails
  • 11. Post: Vertical component, set in the ground, that provides the main support for the fence
  • 12. Panel: Pre-assembled unit that attaches to the posts and provides screening
  • 13. Concrete: Pourable mix hardens to provide strong support for the post
  • 14. Gravel: Small loose rock allows drainage
  • 15. Post Top: Decorative cap that adds a finished look to the fence
  • 16. Fastener: Galvanized or stainless steel nails, screws, and other hardware used to secure the fence components
  • 17. Pickets: Vertical panels that attach to the rails and provide screening
  • 18. Cross Rails: Horizontal elements that connect the posts and support the pickets

Alternatives to Wood Fences

Wood alternatives don’t require sealing, staining or painting. They won’t split, warp, crack, rot or splinter, and look great year after year.  


  • Upfront cost: $$
  • Made from a resilient, plastic-based substance
  • Low-maintenance beauty that never needs painting or staining
  • Available as easy-to-install kits and pre-assembled panels
  • Can be used for security, privacy, decorative, pool or garden/farm fencing
  • Matching gates available
  • Transferable limited lifetime warranty available


  • Upfront cost: $$$
  • Composite is a a mix of resin, or plastic, with wood
  • Appearance is similar to natural wood or stone and comes in a variety of colors
  • Available for security, privacy, decorative or garden/farm fencing
  • Heavyweight mixture of recycled wood fibers in a resin base


  • Upfront cost: $$-$$$
  • Heavy-duty wrought iron adds security; is difficult to cut
  • Very sturdy and durable
  • Aluminum is heavy-gauged and powder coated with an acrylic finish
  • Low-maintenance
  • Available for security, decorative, pool or garden/farm fencing
  • Pre-assembled panels and gates make for easy installation
  • Will not fade or discolor

Chain Link

  • Upfront cost: $
  • Easy and fast to install
  • Identical appearance from all sides
  • Available in several colors
  • Gates, posts, braces and latches can be added
  • Ideal for security
  • Galvanized or coated for corrosion resistance
  • Fence slats can be added for privacy and to reduce wind, dust and noise

Specialty Fences

Specialty Fences

Tip: For images of the most popular fence styles, including squared, dog eared, gothic and more, check out our fencing gallery.
• Contoured or stepped fences: If your yard is sloped, you can choose between a contoured or stepped fence. The rails of a contoured fence follow the slope of the ground while a stepped fence features fence posts that run downhill in a series of steps, so that the slope of each subsequent post drops accordingly.
• Pool fences: If you have a pool in your yard, you may be required to install a pool fence for safety. Check your local building codes and regulations for specific pool safety standards before installation.
Invisible fencing: For pets that tend to wander off, an in-the-ground invisible fence allows you to set specific boundaries for your pets. Invisible fences work by sounding a sharp alarm and mild static correction if the dog nears the border.
Horse and livestock fencing: If you have horses or livestock, keep them contained while protecting them against injury with galvanized steel class-one coating fences and flexible vinyl rail fences. Both give way when struck to minimize leg injuries due to high-force kicking. Think of a “bend, but don’t break” rule of thumb.

The galvanized steel class-one coating fences stretch and conform to rough terrain as they are woven rather than welded and resist sagging. The vertical mesh adds stability and flexibility.

Vinyl rail fencing is designed specifically to contain horses and other large animals. It’s constructed with continuous polymer or high-tensile wire technology that allows the fence to flex upon impact to reduce injury.

Barbed wire fencing: Barbed wire fences are also good for covering large acreage and containing livestock and other thicker-skinned animals. They can be electrified and come with a convenient carrier reel.