How to Install a Chain Link Fence
If you’re thinking of installing a chain link fence on your own, it’s important to do it right. Chain link fences have a number of benefits: they are affordable, easy to maintain, and provide excellent security for your home. If you don’t learn how to install a chain link fence properly, though, you could wind up with an uneven and unsightly fence. Worse, a poorly installed fence may fall over or break easily, leaving you back at square one.
To properly install a chain link fence, follow the steps below closely. Be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into installing the fence, as it is a much more challenging task than many homeowners realize. If you decide you’d rather bring in the experts to install the chain link fence for you, consider using Long Fence’s services. Their fencing experts can install a chain link fence quickly and affordably. Call today to find out more.
Step 1: Decide where to put your chain link fence
Before you install the fence, you’ll first need to mark the location where you intend to put it. Most people install their chain link fence near their property line, usually about 4 inches away from the edge to avoid any conflicts with neighbors. Some areas may have local codes that dictate exactly how far from the property line a fence must be.
You will also have to call 811 to have your local or state utilities protection service mark underground water, gas, and electrical lines. This will help you avoid hitting and damaging any pipes or wiring, which would likely be expensive to repair. You may also need to obtain local zoning and building permits before you begin digging. Check with your local home owner’s association to see if they have any regulations regarding a chain link fence.
Next, lay out the perimeter of the fence with batter boards and string. You can build the batter boards yourself or buy them from a home improvement store. Alternatively, you could use spray paint to mark where you intend to lay the fence. If you use spray paint, though, be very careful to go in a straight line. You may want to use a taut string as a guide before using the spray paint.
Step 2: Buy the necessary materials
Laying out the fence should help you determine how much chain link mesh you need. You’ll also need to decide the height: chain link usually comes in rolls of 4-feet, 5-feet, or 6-feet high mesh. Higher fences offer more security, but they are also a little more expensive and can block your view. You’ll also have options when it comes to the type of chain link mesh you buy, such as whether you want PVC coatings or privacy slats.
In addition to the mesh, you’ll need to invest in a number of other items. These include chain link fence posts, end and corner posts, top and bottom rails, line post caps, end post caps, tie wire, tension bands, tension wire, and a tension bar. When buying these items, you’ll need to estimate how many of each you’ll need based on the length and height of your fence.
Step 3: Dig fence post holes
Once you’ve laid out the perimeter, obtained the necessary permits, and bought all the supplies, it’s finally time to install your chain link fence. Start by digging fence post holes at regular intervals. You should mark where you plan to dig so you don’t accidentally leave your fence posts looking uneven, with some fence posts looking closer together than others. Use a measuring to make sure the distance between holes is uniform.
Dig each fence post hole 30 inches deep and 6-8 inches in diameter. Use a measuring tape to ensure each hole has the same depth. If some holes are deeper than others, your fence will appear lopsided, and it may be in danger of falling over. Your holes should be bell-shaped, meaning the deeper part of the holes should be a couple of inches wider than the top part.
Digging by hand is the most exact option, but it’s also the most grueling. If you dig by hand, invest in a sturdy shovel that has a sharp and pointy end to give you more control. Alternatively, you can buy or rent an auger, which acts similar to a drill. Keep in mind that augers give you less control, so you may still need to use a shovel to dig part of the holes. Finally, you could invest in a post hole digger, which helps loosen the soil to make it easier to dig.
Digging the chain link fence holes is hard and time-consuming work, but you’re not done yet. It’s important to add some gravel to the bottom of each hole. This will provide adequate drainage to the soil beneath the fence. If the soil becomes too wet, the moisture will make the soil unstable, which could cause the fence to come loose from the ground.
Step 4: Fill the holes with wet cement and stick in the posts
To keep the fence posts in place, you’ll need to add concrete. It’s possible to make your own concrete from scratch, but we recommend buying bags of pre-mixed concrete from a home improvement store. Use a shovel to mix the concrete powder with water in a wheel barrel or other large container. Make sure the concrete is not too thin – it should have the consistency of a thick milkshake or soft cake batter.
Once the mix is ready, pour it into the first hole. Don’t fill the concrete to the top; you should leave about 3 to 4 inches of space at the top. Next, stick a fence post into the wet concrete, making sure that it is straight up and down and level with the string line. You should also make sure the fence post goes all the way down to through the concrete but not through the gravel. Some people find it helpful to make uniform marks on the fence posts to show where the posts should reach the surface.
After you’ve stuck the first fence post in the hole, move on to the next hole. Depending on how many posts you need to fill, you may have to make multiple batches of concrete so that it does not have time to dry. As you go down the line, continually make sure that each post is level with the rest by standing at one end and visually checking. If any are off, make the necessary adjustments.
Step 5: Install post fixings and rails
Before you can attach the chain link fabric, you’ll need to install some fixings to hold the mesh and rails in place. First, use a rubber mallet to put post caps on each of the fence posts. Next, attach tension bands to the end and corner posts. You should attach one fewer tension band than the height of the fence. For example, if the fence is five feet high, attach four tension bands.
Attach tension bars using the tension bands. These will give the chain link mesh greater strength and rigidity. Next, attach the top and bottom rails to the chain link fence using looped caps to hold the ends in place. If necessary, attach multiple rails together or cut rails in half using a pipe cutter. Keep at least two inches of clearance between the bottom rail and the ground.
Step 6: Attach the chain link fabric
It’s finally time to attach the chain link fabric. Roll it out on the ground alongside the fence. Weave the tension bar through the links at the very end of the mesh and slide the tension bar through the opening in the tension bands on the fence. You may need to use a socket wrench to attach the tension bar to the tension bands, running a bold through each tension bar to lock it in place.
Once the mesh is firmly attached to one end of the fence, stretch it out along the length of the fence. Use a stretcher bar and cable wrench to pull the mesh taught, which will keep the mesh from sagging. Attach the end of the mesh to the other end of the fence using the tension bands, and remove any excess mesh with a wire cutter. Finally, tie the tops and bottoms of the mesh to the rails using tie wires.
When It’s Better to Hire a Professional
Installing a chain link fence is a complicated and labor-intensive project that can take more than a day of hard work to accomplish. If you’re up for the challenge, make sure you fully understand how to install a chain link fence and are prepared to follow through with your efforts. What you don’t want to do is to start the project yourself but lack the motivation or skills to finish it.
If you’d rather not install a chain link fence yourself, you always have the option to call in the experts. Fencing experts, such as those at Long Fence, have years of experience installing chain link fences. Though hiring the experts may cost a little more than it would to install the fence yourself, many people decide the time and energy they save is worth paying a little extra. To learn more about Long Fence’s chain link fence installation services, contact us today.