Fencing isn’t just about appearances. Barriers, partitions and posts all offer different benefits and drawbacks. (Photo: Dreamstime/TNS).

Whether you’re looking to add privacy to your yard, increase your curb appeal or just keep your pets contained, investing in a fence offers a great solution. But with all the options on the market, choosing the perfect fence can be overwhelming. This comparison of fencing materials and styles will help you make the best decision for your home.

Wood barrier
Wood is an old standby for fencing. It comes in a wide variety of styles and price points and is generally inexpensive to repair, but it also requires regular pressure washing and sealing. Wood can also face issues like moisture, rot and insect damage. Try cedar fencing to avoid some of these problems, as cedar wood contains natural oils that deter insects.

Styles to try: Wood works well for privacy, horizontal slat, lattice and picket fences. You can get more privacy from a picket fence by placing the slats closer together!

Vinyl partition
Vinyl fencing is the best option for those who want a low- to no-maintenance barrier. This material won’t crack or splinter and you shouldn’t need to repaint it at all. Vinyl comes in several colors and styles and is cleaned easily with a hose. The downside is that installation costs more compared with other materials, and repair costs can be high if anything breaks. Thicker vinyl is often more durable than thinner options, but the quality of the material is the most important factor.

Styles to try: Purchase white vinyl posts for a crisp picket fence, or thick boards for a privacy fence. This material also works well as lattice.

Composite fencing
A composite fence is a great option for homeowners looking for a low-maintenance, eco-friendly fencing solution. Composite is made up of a combination of wood and plastic to produce a material that looks a lot like wood with far fewer drawbacks. These fences don’t require regular sanding, painting or sealing, though they should be cleaned on occasion. They’re insect-resistant and less likely to rot than solid wood fences. Plus, composite fences are often made from recyclable materials, which makes them a greener option. Keep in mind that composite is more expensive than wood and requires slightly more upkeep than vinyl.

Styles to try: Composite works best for privacy, horizontal and picket fences. It can be purchased in panels to help save time during installation, though this may make it difficult to customize.

Aluminum posts
Aluminum is a favorite for metal fencing thanks to its low cost and rust-resistance. Although it’s lightweight compared to other metal fencing options, aluminum can be trickier to install than wood or vinyl. These fences are ideal for homeowners looking for home security, as they are difficult to climb and can be purchased with pointed tops. However, they don’t provide much privacy, since they’re generally made up of bars instead of slats.

Styles to try: You can purchase aluminum fences in varying heights, with some as tall as eight feet high. They come with flat or pointed tops.

By Jenna Schuster, Angie’s List. Jenna Schuster is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.