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Installing a Chain-Link Fence

Chain link fence

Chain-link fences have a language all their own: brace band, rail cap, tension band and tension bars. A chain-link fence has a skeleton made of posts and rails. The pieces holding the framework together are called caps. The chain-link mesh is stretched tightly across the skeleton after the skeleton is installed. A metal bar, called a tension bar, is woven into the end of the mesh and attached to the end posts with tension bands.


Mesh is usually sold in rolls 4, 5 or 6-feet high. Steel is the strongest mesh. Aluminum is lighter. As for the posts, they come in two diameters. The wider diameter, 2-3/8 inches, is for corner and end posts. The smaller diameter is 1-5/8 inches and is for the other posts in the fence, or line posts. When laying out the gateposts, leave an extra 3-3/4 inches, or as much as directed by the manufacturer between posts to make room for the hinges and latch.


Parts Of A Chain-Link Fence

Chain link fence

Shown at left: (A) line post cap; (B) top rail; (C) end post cap; (D) rail caps; (E) tension band; (F) tie wire; (G) line post; (H) tension wire; (I) corner post; (J) tension bar.


Posts and rails provide the basic structure for a chain link fence. The rails fit through looped caps on the line posts and are attached to the corner and end posts by rail caps. The chain link mesh is stretched across the posts and tension bands slip around the end post to hold what’s called a tension bar. Fasten the top of the mesh to the rails and the line posts and run a wire through the bottom of the mesh to hold it in place.  Shop chain link fencing and all fencing materials at The Home Depot.





Assembling the Posts and Rails


Step 1: Dig the post holes

Step 1: Dig the post holes Dig postholes three times wider than the post diameter: 6 to 8 inches for end and corner posts, 4 to 6 inches for line posts and 1/3 of the length of the pole plus 4 inches for gravel. Fill all the holes with 4 inches of gravel and tamp. Add 6 inches of concrete to the corner, gate and end postholes only. Put posts in the wet concrete and plumb them with a level.

Step 2: Fill the holes with concrete

Step 2: Fill the holes with concrete Finish filling in the corner, gate and end postholes with concrete. Check the posts for plumb after every few shovelfuls and adjust as needed. Slope the top of the concrete so water drains away from the posts. Let the concrete cure for two to three days. Do not fill the holes for the line posts with concrete and don’t put the line posts in place.

Step 3: Attach tension bands and gate hardware

Step 3: Attach tension bands and gate hardware Slide tension bands onto each corner, gate and end post. The bands will help hold the mesh in place once it’s installed. You will use 3 for a 4-foot fence, 4 for a 5-foot fence, and 5 for a 6-foot fence. Put hinges and latch hardware onto the gateposts at roughly their final positions, to install later. Use a rubber mallet to drive end post caps onto the gate, corner and end posts and slip a brace band over each installed post.

Step 4: Install all caps

Step 4: Install all caps Install looped caps, end post caps and rail caps. Drive looped caps onto the line posts with the mallet and put the posts in their holes, but don’t fill the holes. Bolt a rail cap to each brace band, tightening just enough to hold the cap in place. Feed the rails through the looped caps. Cut rails with a pipe cutter or hacksaw, if needed. If you need longer rails, join them together using rails with a slightly smaller wedged end that fits into a full-size rail.

Step 5: Attach the rails

Attach the rails Fit the rails into the rail caps and raise or lower each cap to the final height of the mesh, including 2 inches clearance at the bottom. Tighten the brace bands, fill the holes around the line posts with dirt and then tamp until firm.

Installing the Chain Link

Step 1: Unroll the mesh and install a tension bar

Unroll the mesh and install a tension bar Lay the chain link mesh on the ground outside the fence. Run a tension bar through the links at the end of the mesh. The bar makes the end of the fence rigid and provides something to attach to the posts.

Step 2: Attach the tension bar to the posts

Attach the tension bar to the posts With a helper, stand the mesh up and use a socket wrench to bolt the tension bar into the tension bands on one of the end posts. Align the mesh so it overlaps the rail by 1 to 2 inches and sits about 2 inches above the ground.

Step 3: Stretch the mesh

Stretch the mesh Chain link mesh must be pulled taut or it will sag. Stretching is done with a tool called a fence puller (A). Note location of the tension bar (B). Insert a pull bar through the unattached mesh a few feet from the final post (C). Attach the yoke to the pull bar.

Step 4: Attach the other end of the fence puller to the final post

Attach the other end of the fence puller to the final post Crank the fence puller until the loops of the mesh move no more than ¼ inch when you squeeze them together. If the mesh changed height or became distorted during tightening, pull on it to reshape it.

Step 5: Insert a tension bar

Insert A tension bar Without releasing the fence puller, insert a tension bar in the mesh; close enough so it can be fastened to the tension bands on the end post nearest to the fence puller. To remove the excess mesh between the tension bars and end post, open a loop at the top and bottom, then twist and pull the strand free.

Step 6: Attach the tension bar

Attach the tension bar Pull the tension bar into the tension bands on the end post by hand, and then tighten the bolts on the bands with a socket wrench. Release the fence puller and remove the pull bar to which it was attached. Repeat the entire hanging and stretching process along the remaining sides of the fence.

Step 7: Tie the fence to the rails

Tie the fence to the rails Bend one end of an aluminum tie wire into a hook and grab the bottom strand of the opening above the rail. Loop the tie wire around the top rail, pull it firmly and tie it back onto the mesh. Space the tie wires every 12 to 16 inches along the rail and then attaches them to the line posts.

Step 8: Run wire through the bottom loops of mesh

Run wire through the bottom loops of mesh Thread a tension wire through the bottom loops of the mesh and tighten it around the end posts. Wrap the wire around itself several times to fasten it. An alternative to threading the wire is to attach it to the mesh every 2 feet or so with hog rings. (See inset.)

Designer tip: 


Use privacy slats. A chain link fence serves well to keep the dog in the yard, but it won’t give you much privacy. Privacy slats, available at your local Home Depot, let you keep the dog in (or out) and give you some privacy. Privacy slats are available in a variety of colors. The easiest to work with are thin and flexible, much like the slats of Venetian blinds. Weave the slats on a diagonal through the mesh.