Project Guide

How to Install a Chain Link Fence

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Gather Your Materials
A chain link fence with its parts labeled

Installing a chain link fence starts with a framework.  In the accompanying photo you'll see all the parts you'll need to buy for your framework and how they fit together. 

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

Prepare Your Post Holes
A person digs a post hole
  • Set your posts about 4 inches away from your property line to avoid any property line issues with neighbors.  
  • Dig post holes 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 post holes only.

Tip: Posts 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.

Set Posts
A person filling a post hole with concrete
  • Put posts in the wet concrete and plumb them with a level.
  • Finish filling in the corner, gate and end post holes 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.
Attach Tension Bands and Gate Hardware
A person attaches a tension band to a post
  • 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 three for a 4-foot fence, four for a 5-foot fence, and five for a 6-foot fence.
  • Put hinges and latch hardware onto the gate posts 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.
Install All Caps
A person wearing gloves installs a cap on a post
  • 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.
Attach the Rails
A person attaches chain link fence rails
  • Fit the rails into the rail caps and raise or lower each cap to the final height of the mesh, including 2 inches of clearance at the bottom.
  • Tighten the brace bands, fill the holes around the line posts with dirt and tamp until firm.
Unroll the Mesh and Install a Tension Bar
A person unrolling chain link mesh
  • 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.

Tip: Chain link fabric or mesh is usually sold in rolls 4, 5 or 6 feet high. Galvanized steel is the strongest mesh. Aluminum is lighter. 

Attach the Tension bar to the Posts
A person installing chain link mesh
  • 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.
Stretch the Mesh
A person uses a fence puller to stretch chain link mesh
  • Chain link mesh must be pulled taut or it will sag. Stretching is done with a tool called a fence puller.
  • Insert a pull bar through the unattached mesh a few feet from the final post.
  • Attach the yoke to the pull bar.
Tighten the Mesh
A person tightening chain link mesh
  • Crank the fence puller until the loops of the mesh move no more than 1/4 inch when you squeeze them together. 
  • If the mesh changed height or became distorted during tightening, pull on it to reshape it.
Insert a Tension Bar
A person inserts a tension bar into chain link mesh
  • 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 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.
Attach the Tension Bar
Tightening a bolt
  • 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.
Tie the Fence to the Rails
A person ties a chain link fence to a rail
  • 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 attach them to the line posts.
Run Wire Through the Bottom Loops of Mesh
A finished chain link fence with gate
  • 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.

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. Weave the slats on a diagonal through the mesh.