The 5 Cheapest Privacy Fence Ideas

Everyone knows that new fences are not the cheapest things to build. It can cost a few thousand dollars at least, more for a larger property. But for privacy, you might be ready to shell out that money.

Hold on to your wallet for a moment and look at your alternative privacy fence options that can save you a ton of cash.

1. Pallet Wood Fence

The very cheapest privacy fence option is a pallet wood fence. This fence is very similar to a traditional lumber or wood fence, but it’s made up of pallet boards instead of lumber.

A pallet wood fence is the cheapest fence because pallet wood can be found for very cheap or even for free, in some cases. Many department stores and supermarkets have stacks of pallet boards in their stockrooms or parking lots from shipments and are more than happy to get rid of some of them.

So, chances are, if you ask a store if you can have some of the pallet boards they have in the back, they’ll gift them to you for free.

This does require a bit of grunt work, though. You’ll want to make sure the pallet boards you take are in good condition so you don’t run into any unnecessary issues during installation.

Not asking is stealing!

Even if you know a store will gives away pallet boards for free, still ask. Otherwise, it’s stealing and is a crime.

As long as you have access to free pallet boards, the only cost to you is the building materials: fence posts, nails/screws, hammer/drill, etc. In most cases, you already have these items.

Therefore, even after all that, the cost to build a pallet board fence is close to nothing.

Pallet boards are a great material for a fence because they’re easily manipulated and easy to customize. Because of the nature of pallet boards, you can either construct the fence to look uniform and even, or you could stagger the boards for a more rustic and organic look.

You can also paint or stain the pallet boards to match the desired esthetic. Just remember, it costs more money to purchase paint, stain, and the needed materials.

It’s important to note that, even though pallet boards are the cheapest fence option, because of the nature of the boards themselves, they may need to be repaired or even replaced from time to time. And that may cost a bit more money in the long run.

So, this might be a great option if you’re in a pinch and need something cheap and quick. But in the long term, this may not be the best option to use.

2. Corrugated Metal Panel Fence

A corrugated metal panel is a sheet of metal that looks wrinkled in its texture. They’re most often used as roofing panels on old sheds, barns, chicken coups, and water towers.

Using corrugated metal panels as a privacy fence is very cost-effective. Much like using pallet boards, these panels can be found in junkyards and, some of the time, people want to get rid of them.

Also, they’re very easy to repurpose and clean up and they don’t require a lot of maintenance once they’re installed. If they’re not available for free, you can purchase them. They average about $15-$20 per square foot.

The cost of materials for a corrugated metal fence depends on how large the perimeter of you yard is, but can be very inexpensive.

This looks isn’t always for everyone but if it fits your taste, it is a great option and can make a statement.

3. Chain Link Fence

Another fairly inexpensive fence option is a chain link fence. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a roll of chain link fence in good condition for free. That being said, a roll of chain link fence material costs anywhere between $5-$20 depending on what kind you get.

Raw metal chain link is the cheapest option and coated (galvanized or vinyl) is the most expensive. On average, people spent about $2,100 on installing a chain link fence. The typical range was $1,150 to $3,100.

Now, chain link fences are NOT privacy fences, but there are additional components that you can add to make it a privacy fence. The two most common methods are adding plastic slats or mesh and vinyl screens.

Both of these privacy methods have to be added to the fence after it’s already been installed, so it is an extra cost on top of the cost of the chain link fence.

Privacy Screen

Privacy screens are literally screens that attach to a chain link fence and provide privacy to the fence. There are a few different materials that these screens are made out of, but the most common are mesh and vinyl.

Mesh screens are used more often than vinyl. They’re a bit easier to maintain and, because they’re mesh, they allow air to flow through and it’s less likely your chain link fence will topple over because of wind.

 These screens can be found pretty much anywhere, but there are a lot of great options online. The average cost of a mesh screen, ordered online, is $50 for 25 feet. So that’s about $2 per foot.

The average cost for a vinyl screen, ordered online, is $55 for 25 feet. So that’s about $2.10 per foot.

Both of these options come with an assembly kit and it has everything you need to attach the screens to the fence so there’s not extra material costs after the initial purchase of the screens.

Plastic Slats

Another very common method of converting a chain link fence to a privacy fence is to add plastic slats. These are just long strips of plastic that weave into the links of the chain link fence.

They come in all sorts of colors and are very simple to install. They can be found pretty much anywhere, but your local hardware store or Amazon will have the most options.

The average cost for these slats depends totally on the size. I’ve personally seen 8 feet tall slats that cover 25 feet of fence, the average is about $50. For 4 feet tall slats that cover 25 feet of fence, the average is about $20.

See the current pricing for one of the most popular privacy fencing slat brands online, Wave Slat brand chainlink slats here (Amazon link).

So, in order to gauge the actual cost of the plastic slats, a bit of planning and measuring is required. But, on average, expect to spend around $200 to add these to a chain link fence.

Even though these privacy screens and plastic slats require a chain link fence to already be installed, the unit as a whole, is pretty cost efficient.

4. Lumber Fence

A lumber fence is what someone typically pictures when referencing a traditional wood fence. This is probably one of the most common materials used for a fence and it’s fairly inexpensive.

The average cost of lumber is between $7 and $15. So, depending on the size of the perimeter you’re wanting to cover, the cost, altogether, for a lumber fence would be between $1600 to $3500.

The average cost is about $2200 for a lumber fence. This cost includes, if you’re installing it yourself, the sturdy fence posts, the nails/screws, hammer/drill, etc. If you’re having it installed and paying for labor, the cost might be a bit more than this.

Overall though, a lumber fence is fairly inexpensive, even if you’re paying to have it installed.

The other great thing about lumber fences is the overall longevity and integrity of it. These fences, with proper maintenance and care, tend to last a very long time. Because of this, a lumber fence is even more cost efficient because you don’t have to pay for repairs or replacement boards very often.

5. Vinyl Fence

A vinyl fence is, typically, the white plastic looking fence that a lot of people actually prefer to have around their yard. It’s beautiful, simple and clean looking. Vinyl fences also require little to no maintenance.

Having a vinyl fence installed is another fairly inexpensive option, but it’s the most expensive of these 5 cost-effective options.

There are a few different types of vinyl fence panels that you can choose from and they all differ a bit in cost. So, again, to know exactly what this will cost, it will take a bit of planning, measuring, and basic math to get an exact number.

That being said, on average, vinyl fence panels cost about $18 to $22 per square foot right now. This doesn’t include other materials, just the fence panels.

The average overall cost of having a vinyl fence installed was about $4,500. The range is between $3,200 and $5,500. Again, this costs completely depends on the type of vinyl fence you want and how big the perimeter of the area is. But, this is a good starting point.

Even though this vinyl fence option is a bit less cost effective than the (almost) free options listed above, vinyl fences are still a great option! They look clean, beautiful, and don’t require a lot of maintenance.

Having a fence installed can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to financing the project. It’s good to know all the options; but it’s even better to know that there are cost effective fence options and what those specific options are.

Fence Frenzy

We at Fence Frenzy absolutely love taking on the challenge of building, or even restoring, a fence. Especially elaborate and exotic fence designs that really make us scratch our heads! We're happy to share everything we've learned with you.

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