Everyone has heard of chain link fence materials as it is the most common types of fencing in use today outside of wood. It is also called hurricane fencing; cyclone fencing and wire netting. This is due to the design of the interwoven steel wires connected to the interspersed metal posts. The quality of chain link is based on the gauge of the wire and the zinc content. The chain link material that forms the fabric comes in different wire thickness or “gauge”. The higher the gauge is, the smaller the wire will be. The most common gauges in use for chain link fabric are:
- 6 gauge
- 9 gauge
- 11 gauge
- 11.5 gauge
- 12 gauge
- 12.5 gauge
The chain link material fabric is formed by interweaving wire spirals together into a zig zag pattern. The distance between two parallel strands of wire is referred to as the “mesh size”. The most common mesh sizes are 2 and 2 ¼. Although, smaller mesh sizes are available when fencing with more security is needed. The way that either end of the pattern is finished is referred to as the “Selvage” By industry standards that means that a fence smaller than 72 inches has one end in finished in closed loops and the other end of the fence is finished in barbs, similar to barbed wire. The barbed side is sometimes used as the side closest to the ground to give the fence more traction and stability.
Chain link fabric is coated with zinc using one of two processes. The first is GAW or galvanized after weaving. This means the wire is woven into fabric and the fabric is drawn through a molten pot of zinc. This process leaves the heaviest concentrations of zinc on the fabric. The alternative method is GBW or galvanized before weaving, where the wire is pulled through the molten zinc before it is woven into the chain link fabric. This method leaves a little over half the zinc on the fabric as the other method.
The tubular metal framework that holds the chain link fabric in place consists of 3 components:
- Terminal post – These are the thickest posts and are sunk into concrete. They are used for the gate, corner and end posts.
- Line post – These posts are smaller in diameter than the terminal posts and are interposed between the terminal posts to give the fence rigidity. They are also sunk into concrete
- Top rail – These posts are passed through the terminal posts and through fittings on the line posts to form a framework for the chain link fabric to hang from
The quality of that framework is based off of the thickness of the steel and the zinc coating. There are two ways to coat the tubular metal framework in zinc:
- The hot dip process – Coils of steal are cut to proper width and then they are bent into tubes and the seams are welded. The pipe is then submersed in a pot of molten zinc which coats the pipe inside and out to help prevent corrosion.
- Flow coat galvanizing – Coils of steal are cut to proper width and then they are bent into tubes and the seams are welded. Then the pipes are passed through a line vat of molten zinc which coats the outside of the pipe. A clear coating is applied over the zinc for additional protection and the interior of the pipe is coated in a zinc rich paint.
Both processes meet the quality standard of the industry.
The last component of the chain link fencing is the fittings. They are made for the terminal posts, line posts and gates. The fittings are manufactured from aluminum or galvanized steel for residential purposes and are especially important for the gates. Since the gate sees regular use, the fittings must be secure or the gate can start to sag over time