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

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
This entry was posted in Environment, Gardening and Landscaping, Green Living, Health and Safety and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Vinyl fences – yuck!

  1. Such an informative post and I think it is very important to keep people updated

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