Are all chain-link fences the same?
Chain-link has four elements: fabric, framework, fittings and gates. How you combine them makes all the difference. Each of these components are available in a range of weights (gauges) and types of protective coatings. Providers can mix and match components in an effort to shave costs or differentiate their product. Our minimum recommendations will typically follow the minimum practices defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The most common coating is zinc (galvanized), but you’ll also find chain-link components with vinyl or polyester color coatings in addition to zinc. These color treatments enhance landscaping and blend naturally with trees, shrubs and bushes. They’ll also give you even more protection against corrosion or rust.
What should I look for in residential chain link fabric?
Select your chain-link fence fabric based on these three criteria: gauge of wire, size of mesh and type of protective coating.
1. Gauge (ga.) or diameter of wire is one of the most important factors- it helps tell you how much steel is actually in the fabric. The smaller the gauge number, the more steel, the higher the quality and the stronger the wire. We recommend using nothing less than 11 ½ gauge (.1121 inches in diameter) wire for residential and 9 gauge (.1494 inches in diameter) for commercial fencing. When referring to vinyl coated wire, you always refer to the core gauge of the wire and then reference the coating. Residential vinyl coated wire using an 11 ½ gauge core wire may have a 9 gauge finish depending on the type of vinyl coating. Commercial vinyl coated wire using a 9 gauge core wire may have a 6 gauge to 8 gauge finish depending on the type of vinyl coating.
2. Mesh size tells you how far apart the parallel wires are in the mesh. In other words, how large the diamond is from side to side. This is another indication of how much steel is in the product. The smaller the diamond, the more steel is in the fabric. We recommend nothing less than 2 3/8” mesh for residential and 2” mesh for commercial. There are a variety of mesh sizes available, ranging from 3/8”, 5/8”, ¾”, 1” 1 ¾”, 2”, 2 ¼”, 2 3/8” to 3 ½”. The smaller mesh sizes are typically used in high security applications that prevent personnel from climbing or cutting. The larger meshes are used in residential.
3. Core wire coating is critical. There are three types of core wire coatings.
- Hot dipped galvanized – Galvanized After Weaving. GAW wire is first woven and then dipped into a kettle of hot melted zinc. The speed at which it is dipped and removed will dictate the weight of the coating. GAW coating is available in 1.2 oz of coating per square foot or 2 oz of coating per square foot. This coating process tends to leave icicles and nubs from the zinc dripping-off.
- Galvanized Before Weaving. GBW wire galvanizes the wire before weaving. This coating process has improved over the years, providing a smooth, consistent and dependable coating. It is also available in 1.2 and 2 oz. GBW is popular in backyards and athletic applications for its smooth finish.
- Aluminized coating is applied before weaving, providing a dull aluminum finish to the core wire. Its soft metal properties provide an excellent coating suited for highly acetic environments.
4. Vinyl coating over finished core wire. According to ASTM 668, vinyl coated chain link is specified and ordered by the metallic core wire with the specified coating to follow.
- Class 1 Extruded. Your residential chain link is typically “non-spec class 1 extruded” wire, meaning the vinyl coating is simply pulled over the wire like a sock over your foot. This wire generally is miss represented because it is thicker than the higher grade materials. Of course the reason it is thicker is because it is not bonded to the chain link and can easily tear or peal.
- Class 2A Extruded and Bonded. The second grade of wire is the “class 2A extruded and bonded” wire. This wire may appear in some specifications and is generally used in commercial applications. The vinyl coating is thinner than the “class 1 extruded” wire. However, the extruded and bonded wire is bonded to the wire by means of an intense glue, thus less likely to peal or tear from the core wire.
- 2Class 2B Fused and Bonded. The third grade of wire is “class 2b thermally fused and bonded. This class of wire is most predominately specified with architects, engineers, city, state and federal. It has the thinnest coating yet has the greatest strength in resisting cracking, pealing and tearing. The vinyl coating is literally fused and bonded to the steel like welding two pieces of steel together. This is the superior product.
How do I select my residential fence framework?
Start with the gauge and the outside diameter. Below is a helpful table that you may use in selecting your fence framework. “Terminal Posts” is a generic term for end, corner and gate posts. Gate posts will vary based on the size of the gate.
|Application||Light Duty||Medium Duty||Heavy Duty|
|3’-4’ high||Top rail||1-3/8” 17 ga.||1-3/8” 16 ga.||1-3/8” 15 ga.|
|Line Posts||1-5/8” 17 ga.||1-5/8” 16 ga.||1-5/8” 15 ga.|
|Terminal Posts||1-7/8” 17 ga.||1-7/8” 16 ga.||1-7/8” 15 ga.|
|5’-6’ high||Top rail||1-3/8” 17 ga.||1-3/8” 16 ga.||1-5/8” 15 ga.|
|Line Posts||1-7/8” 17 ga.||1-7/8” 16 ga.||1-7/8” 15 ga.|
|Terminal Posts||2-3/8” 17 ga||2-3/8” 16 ga.||2-3/8” 15 ga.|
How do I select my commercial fence framework?
Fortunately, the American Society of Testing and Materials, ASTM, has effectively dealt with this issue in helping customers choose from light commercial to industrial grade materials. Under ASTM 1043; you can simply choose your table or grade of materials. Each grade, spells out the diameter and wall thickness of tubing and pipe for the application and height.