Fencing In Your School's Playground: Two Types Of Fencing Material And Their Benefits And Drawbacks

When your school district has decided to install a new fence around the playground, you may find that there are several choices in fencing material. There are also several opinions as to which materials are the safest and most secure for a school playground. Here are the four fencing materials and their pluses and minuses to consider before you choose a fence type and look for fence companies to install it.

Traditional Metal Fencing

Most adults probably recall these woven galvanized steel fences that you could climb over if you put the toes of your shoes in the openings of the fence material. Over time, the fence bowed and twisted out of shape, making it necessary for the school system to replace the fencing yet again. The metal posts this fence material was (and still sometimes is) made of reminds one of large bullets.

The benefits of steel playground fencing are:

  • It is reasonably durable
  • You can attach a strip to the top of the fence material that keeps it from scraping skin and snagging clothes
  • Plain, it is some of the least expensive fencing for playground fences
  • You can order a colored, vinyl coated fence so that the metal does not get so hot it burns and it looks more colorful and attractive around the schoolyard

The drawbacks of steel playground fencing:

  • In its bare state, it looks industrial and cold
  • Bare skin can get stuck in the winter and burned slightly in the hotter months
  • It bends and bows under pressure
  • Kids and adults can climb over it easily

Solid Vinyl Fencing

Solid vinyl fencing, when installed on solid wood center posts cemented into the ground, is extremely durable and more attractive than galvanized steel fencing. For playgrounds, vinyl fencing panels are made shorter so that parents can spot their kids at play and kids remain safely in view without total occlusion. 

Other benefits of vinyl playground fencing include:

  • Multiple colors and styles, including picket, dog-eared, white, red, green, etc.
  • Panels disallow any foothold, so no one can climb over the fence on either side
  • Vinyl fencing stays cool to the touch in hot months and does not instantly freeze to skin in winter
  • It is more effective at slowing down projectiles (such as bullets) that head toward or through the fence

The drawbacks of vinyl playground fencing are:

  • It costs more than bare galvanized steel fencing
  • It needs to be washed frequently
  • Vandals can target the panels with eggs and spray paint
  • Some styles look more appropriate for residential rather than school playground fences

If after weighing these two types of fencing material against each other you and your school district still cannot decide which type of fence works best, ask a few fencing companies what they would recommend. They may have totally different recommendations than vinyl or steel, or they may recommend a hybrid fencing material as a compromise.