Fencing -- wood versus composite

I have a 20 year old wooden fence that will need replacing this summer. I don't think it'll survive another winter.
It's a privacy type fence, about 120 ft long and location (climate) is Northern CA.
Composites sound attractive (low maintenance) but I understand that composite materials have not been working out well for decks. What do you guys think? Should I consider or dismiss composite?
Assuming I go with more conventional pressure treated wood, I'd welcome any thoughts on the pros and cons of different species of wood. Redwood, cedar, other?
My HOA require a natural wood finish -- no paint, vinyl's, etc.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

My choice would be cedar. Will last another 20 years for sure.
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on 3/29/2009 8:39 PM (ET) Tony Hwang wrote the following:

replacement, as mine is.
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Bill
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on 3/29/2009 8:27 PM (ET) Malcolm Hoar wrote the following:

former, see here. http://www.swpindustries.com/pdf/vinylFencing.pdf
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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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I think they can be persuaded to accept a synthetic provide it looks reasonably wood-like.
Hence my original question about the composites most of which tend to involve some engineered wood and vinyl.
The composites sound attractive but folks who have installed decks using similar materials seem to be less than happy. That makes me nervous. Having said that, fences are vertical so water will run off quickly and they're not normally subjected to foot traffic ;-)
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on 3/29/2009 9:54 PM (ET) Malcolm Hoar wrote the following:

For decking, I would never use the composite stuff. The stuff I've seen just looks cheap and can never be mistaken for wood, and one is always looking down on it from 5 to 6+ feet away (depending upon how tall the viewer is).
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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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On Mar 29, 7:27pm, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

My choice is cypress - lasts as long or longer than cedar and is much cheaper in price. But then I don't know if it's available in the NW.
KC
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On Mon, 30 Mar 2009 00:27:55 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

The fence belongs to the HOA. They decide type, color, height, material, where it is installed, but you have to buy it.
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No. The HOA are responsible for maintaining/replacing some of the fences. However, the fence in question will need to be paid for by me and my neighbor.
This HOA does have a few architectural rules. Very few, compared to others I have seen. One is that all fences must have a natural wood finish.
I'm not a big fan of HOA "rules" but ours are fortunately very reasonable and don't include anything that I find offensive.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

I can't think of any composite material I've seen that would come very close to "natural wood finish" -- Trex and the like have some products that are supposed to resemble wood but none do imo -- what a HOA would say I've no clue; most are pretty unyielding from what I hear.
As for what any specifics, all vinyl fences I've seen, however expensive have eventually sagged and at least here w/ heavy UV and wind don't stay looking much better than painted if white or end up chalking like vinyl siding if darker.
If use something of that ilk, I'd expect it would have to have at least 50% closer post spacings to avoid the sag.
As for wood choices, redwood is probably prohibitively expensive even if you can get it. Western cedar isn't a bad choice as would be cypress (also probably pricey on the west coast). Here in a dry climate, fir will last a long time (rails on a picket fence here that I just repaired are probably at least 40 years old and only right at the point they're bolted to the posts were/are they at all bad. I just trimmed 6" of the ends, moved them down and patched in a new section on the other end to make up the length and expect will outlast me...
Much depends on budget constraints as well as choice of what you want to look like or are forced to do that don't have much to go on w/ original posting.
Last thought I'd have would be that most of the composites I've looked at are so much more expensive than the wood solution I'd tend to go against them simply on initial cost. I have used some of the Azek trim for exposed areas but w/ the constraint against painted look and cost that wouldn't be a fencing choice...
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