Vinyl fences – yuck!

18 September 2010
Okay – here is my first real rant… For weeks, on the way to my kids school, I kept passing a highly skilled stone mason at work. Day after day, I watched him go about his work, and slowly this immaculate, beautifully crafted dry-laid stone wall took shape. Having attempted to build a stone wall myself, I have a high appreciation for what it takes to achieve this level of precision and polish, and I remember thinking that this one would indeed be beautiful…
The purpose of this wall was to serve as a kind of “container wall” as it elevated the edge of the sloping lawn behind it, thus extending the usable space a few feet. As the wall grew, the void behind it was filled with soil, and I imagined the new boundary planted with lush plantings to create privacy and enhance the architecture behind it. Maybe it would include a couple of small trees adding a vertical counterpoint to the composition? Or, perhaps the carefully coordinated, leafy combination would provide subtler but equally enchanting colors and textures during the cold and rainy months? Or, even a simple 3-4 high, white picket fence set back a couple of feet, with cottage style plantings would be a perfect complement to the house. Oh, the possibilities – my mouth was watering just thinking about how beautiful this could be!
So, imagine my horror when we turned the corner one morning, and saw that the installation of choice turned out to be a towering, blistering white, shiny, vinyl fence! Gag…. What a slap in the face to the mason! I hope he got some good pictures before the fence was installed – his wall would be an asset to anyone’s portfolio. Instead, the current impression is akin to putting ketchup on a chateaubriand. What a shame!!! The instant question that comes to mind is that maybe they were trying to save money? It truly looks incredibly cheap, but thats not usually a desired effect. Maybe the key to the decision is the touted low maintenance reputation marketed by peddlers of vinyl products? Whatever it was that influenced the owners decision – none of those assumptions are true. Vinyl is actually quite a bit more expensive than its wooden equivalent. In addition, its environmental price tag is high. The manufacturing process of PVC releases dioxin, which is one of the most dangerous, and carcinogenic substances known to mankind into the environment, and the end product also contains an abundance of toxic chemical stabilizers that will continue to leach and off-gas into the surrounding environment during its life time, as well as after it ends up in landfill. The chemicals emitted from PVC are documented as causing rising rates of asthma, infertility, lead poisoning and many different cancers. Unlike many other plastics, PVC cannot be recycled. It does not weather very well, so its life expectancy is not overly impressive. As it breaks down it becomes chalky and flaky, and the less exposed parts are prone to moss and algae growth that need to be continuously washed off. Sounds pretty laborious to me, and in the grand scheme of things a wholly bad idea. Besides, it looks awful! In fact, I cant think of a single good reason to use it. Wonder what in the world they were thinking…

Here is an example of algae on vinyl on a northern exposure. The industry claim that vinyl is maintenance free is decidedly false!

Here is an example of algae on vinyl on a northern exposure. The industry claim that vinyl is maintenance free is decidedly false!


About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
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