Utahs Acceptance of Wood Fencing Alternatives

Utah’s fencing market is prime for alternatives to wood. There are several cultural reasons that seem to have driven this demand. Utah’s predominant religious community emphasizes church and family pursuits on Sunday and specifically discourages yard work related activities on this day. That means shorter weekends to take care of things like fence maintenance. For anyone who has spent time in Utah, you have likely experienced what I’m referring to.

Additionally, with over 225 sunny days per year and a moderate climate, Utahan’s spend a lot of time outdoors and away from home during their free time. Although we sell materials in addition to installations, we have found that a significant number of our customers, even those with the skills to do so, prefer to pay others to install and maintain their fences and yards because they simply do not want to allocate time away from other priorities.

Another factor that seems to contribute to decisions on fence building and maintenance is a higher than national average family size, which likely leads to higher demands for family time and a significant need for privacy and enclosed yards.

With an aggressive construction growth market over the last several years, we note that residents pay close attention to what their neighbors are doing. A quality Installation with an attractive fence in one home always leads to calls from neighbors. In some areas, such as the Traverse Mountain community in Lehi, we joke that we should set up a satellite office right in the neighborhood since we have done literally dozens of fences surrounding our initial installation.

Obviously, this is an unscientific set of observations, but based on 18 years of building in Utah I think that a combination of these and other similar factors is what led to the a need for change from traditional wood fences and therefore the rapid and widespread adoption of vinyl fencing in the past and now the growing demand for composites.

That change came in the early 1990’s. At the time, we noticed a sharp increase in demand for vinyl. We were receiving so many requests that we decided to add vinyl installations to our service line. The appeal of vinyl was clearly coming from its low-maintenance attribute and distinct look. This gave it an attribute of being perceived as a premium product and it initially sold at a much higher price point than wood.

When we first entered the market, there was relatively low competition and therefore margins were high. The market grew rapidly and consumers drove demand so high that at one point that there was more vinyl being installed in Utah than in any other state.

However, by the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, a significant influx of manufacturers and installers not only depressed pricing but the sheer number of installations (particularly because the product was becoming increasing available to lower-valued homes) diluted the sense that vinyl was a premium product. As a matter of fact, in the last few years, we have actually seen a backlash in our area. Several recently developed and very large master-planned communities in Utah and Salt Lake County explicitly prohibit the installation of vinyl fences because they feel it cheapens the look of their communities.