Select the Proper Components for a Chain-Link Fence

Dear James: I have a young child and a small dog, so I need to fence in my yard. A chain-link fence would probably be best for both. Please give me some basic ideas on what materials and components I will need. -- Terri A.

Dear Terri: Chain-link is one of the most affordable fencing options for children and pet safety -- plus, it provides added security from prowlers and thieves. If you like to garden, the open weave functions nicely as a trellis for vining and climbing plants.

Other than the fact that the rolls of the chain-link mesh are somewhat heavy, installing a chain-link fence is a job that most do-it-yourselfers can handle. All of the specialty tools needed, like a fence puller to make the mesh taut, are available at tool rental shops.

Everyone is familiar with the reasonably priced standard galvanized chain-link fence mesh that is commonly used for homes. Although it is not particularly attractive, it is extremely durable and corrosion resistant.

For a more attractive look, but at a substantially higher price, chain-link mesh coated with colored vinyl (usually green) can be installed the same way. For additional privacy and to improve the appearance even more, colored slats can be slipped in the mesh after it is installed.

Check your local codes first. Many areas have strict requirements on the type, height and lot-line positioning of a fence. The requirements also often vary depending on whether the fence is in the front, side or backyard.

All chain-link fences are going to use some basic components, so you should become familiar with the terms and how they are used. Most of the materials used for chain-link fences are available in varying gauges (metal thickness). Taller fences usually require a heavier gauge for added strength.

Corner or main posts (galvanized pipe) provide the basic support for a chain-link fence.  They are available in either 1-7/8 or 2-3/8-inch diameters. The larger diameter is often used for fences over four feet high or if extra strength is required. Since you are using it to contain a small dog and young child, the larger diameter is probably not required.

Line posts are smaller, usually 1-5/8 or 1-7/8 inches in diameter, and are used as intermediate supports between the main posts. Four-foot spacing for the line posts is usually adequate and they will be slightly shorter than the main posts when installed.

Top rails run the continuous length of the fence between the main posts. For residential use, 1-3/8 inch diameter pipe is strong enough. For long spans, sleeve connectors are used to attach the top rails.

The chain-link mesh itself is available in many sizes and gauges of wire. The size of the open diamond pattern also varies. Chain-link mesh, with a 2-inch diamond weave using 11-gauge wire, should be adequate for your needs. Fifty-foot long rolls are typical in standard heights of 3, 3-1/2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 feet for residential use.

Post caps fit over the main and gate posts to finish off the tops. Eye caps fit over the intermediate line posts. The top rails slide through the eye caps to secure them to the line posts. Rail-end-bands and sockets are used to finish the ends of the top rails and to secure them to the main and corner posts.

The final components are the flat vertical tension bars, tension bands and tie wires. The tension bars slip into each end of the mesh. Tension bands attach the tension bars (and thus the mesh) to the main or corner posts. Tie wires are used to attach the mesh to the top rail and the intermediate line posts.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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