Have you ever wondered how chain link fences are made?
Links of chains silly!
Just kidding...the chain link fence is the workhorse of backyards everywhere. There's a reason they've been in use since the 1800's. They are affordable, low maintenance, and they get the job done. So what's the story behind the chain link fence?
The true inventor of the chain link fence may never be known, but in 1844 a man named Charles Bernard of the British firm Bernard, Bishop & Barnard developed the process for producing chain link fencing by machine. That company was purchased by Anchor Post Fence, Co., who was the first US company to make the fence in the US.
The construction process begins with a giant spool of galvanized steel or aluminum wire. A machine straightens out the wire, which is then fed into various “knitting” machines. The wires run vertically and are bent into a zig-zag pattern so that each "zig" hooks with the wire immediately on one side and each "zag" with the wire immediately on the other. This forms the characteristic diamond pattern seen in this type of fence.
Chain link usually comes in 20 ft and 50 ft rolls, which can be joined by "unscrewing" one of the end wires and then "screwing" it back in so that it hooks both pieces. Heights include everything from 3 ft to 12 ft and almost any height is possible.
Installing a chain-link fence involves setting posts into the ground and attaching the fence to them. The posts may be steel tubing, timber or concrete and may be driven into the ground or set in concrete. End, corner or gate posts, commonly referred to as "terminal posts", must be set in concrete footing or otherwise anchored to prevent leaning under the tension of a stretched fence. Posts set between the terminal posts are called "line posts" and are set at intervals not to exceed 10 feet. The installer attaches the fence at one end, stretches it, and attaches at the other, easily removing the excess by "unscrewing" a wire. Finally, the installer ties the fence to the line posts with aluminum wire. In many cases, the installer stretches a bottom tension wire, sometimes referred to as "coil wire", between terminal posts to help minimize the in and out movement that occurs at the bottom of the chain-link mesh between posts. Top horizontal rails are used on most chain-link fences, although not necessary. Most manufacturers include caps with their posts, but we offer an excellent chain link solar post cap replacement as well. Bottom rails may be added in lieu of bottom tension wires, and for taller fences, 10 feet or more, intermediate horizontal rails are often added.
The popularity of chain-link fence stems from its relatively low cost and that the open weave does not obscure sunlight from either side of the fence. One can make a chain-link fence semi-opaque by inserting slats into the mesh. Allowing ivy to grow and interweave itself is also popular.
If you're deciding what fence material to build with, check out our hand blog post on the pro's and con's of the various options.