The fencing industry does not distinguish a PVC fence from a vinyl fence for an important reason. A vinyl fence starts with a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin; so, in terms of the material used, the two kinds of fences are actually interchangeable. For purposes of differentiating the two in this article, however, a PVC fence means a homemade fence made of PVC pipes cut into uniform lengths and attached together by T pipe and elbow connectors. The vinyl fence, on the other hand, would mean the PVC-vinyl fences that are molded or made by manufacturers to be sold as alternative to wood fences.
While a vinyl fence may be more expensive than a wood fence, the former has distinct qualities that, if put into account, may make it turn out to be a better investment than wood. When compared to a PVC-pipe fence, a vinyl fence still comes out costlier. This is because a vinyl fence is made to match, if not exceed, the expected durability of wood fences. The PVC pipe is not exactly made for the purpose of being made into a fence, so while it has no guarantee as to its strength, a fence made of this would be cheaper.
Before assembling a PVC fence, careful planning and exact cutting of the lengths of the pipes to be used may be needed so the desired style can be achieved. Vinyl fences on the other hand, come with the manufacturer's assembly instructions that are said to be similar, if not easier, to installing a wood fence.
Both PVC fence and vinyl fence have the advantage over wood when it comes to maintenance. While wood needs to be repainted, stained, or its broken parts replaced, a PVC or vinyl fence can be easily cleaned with soap and hosed down with water. They are practically maintenance-free. In the case of PVC pipes, however, its broken or cracked pieces may have to be replaced at some point.
In terms of design, the difference between a homemade PVC fence and a vinyl one may be glaringly obvious. Regardless of how creatively the PVC fence is fashioned, it would still look like a series of connected pipes. Vinyl fences are especially molded to match the landscaping theme of the property or the needs of its owners by the number of styles: privacy, picket, ornamental, split-rail and several others. Then we have the colors. Most of them, though, still come in classic white.
Manufacturers of vinyl fences are quite confident to back their products up with solid warranties from defects. This alone can give an indication as to how durable the vinyl fence can be for years to come. There are, however, some clauses as to painting that could render the warranty void: potential buyers need to check this before purchasing or painting. A PVC pipe used for its intended purpose may also be durable especially if it is buried under the ground. As a fence, however, there is no known test or study as to how long they would last, considering that they would be exposed to weather changes and other elements.