Chain link fences may not be the most beautiful fences in the world, but they are a cost-effective way to fence large areas of land. From the fields and backstops of baseball games to the boundaries of parks and playgrounds, images of chain link are woven into the fabric of the collective American memory.
Speaking of fabric, did you know that the idea for chain link fences originated in 1844 with a fabric manufacturer in Norwich, England? Charles Barnard, of textile manufacturer Barnard, Bishop & Barnard, had the idea to use his company’s fabric weaving machines for metal. Thus, the chain link was born. It didn’t take long for chain link to be used for fencing, and just a year later, Anchor Post Fence Co. brought the first chain link weaving machine to America.
Chain link became a perfect fit for a still growing USA: it was a durable, cost-effective fence material that proved to be ideal for agriculture, industry, and cities. Chain link fences have survived the test of time, and are still the perfect fences for commercial applications when price and durability are the main objectives.
Best Commercial Uses For Chain Link
While chain link has become less popular amongst homeowners, it is still one of the most popular fences used for commercial applications because they are cost effective they are and how quick to install.
Chain link fences are especially useful for educational and municipal applications where spending budgets come from tax dollars. In these cases, decision makers are accountable to their communities for how they spend their money. Chain link is often the number one choice for these decision makers because they allow schools and cities to keep children, citizens, and property safe at a price point all parties can agree on.
Chain link also benefits privately owned businesses that need a lot of fence, yet don’t want to compromise durability with in favor of a lower price. For instance, oil and gas companies generally have multiple facilities they need protected like drilling sites, pipeline sites, plant sites, and even valve sites that follow their pipelines. With miles and miles of assets to protect and account for, chain link is the most economical solution for these companies. Much in the same vein, warehouses tend to require a lot of fencing and benefit from the cost/durability ratio chain link provides.
In short, if you need to build a lot of fence fast and on a budget, chain link is the way to go.
Limited Access Versus Security
A quick side note: although chain link is a fantastic value for your budget (we’ll dive more deeply into its durability later), one thing to consider is that chain link, while secure and a great deterrent to trespassers, is not the most secure fence on the market. It stands to reason that a fence built from a thicker metal, such as iron, would be harder to break through and therefore more secure. Chain link is fantastic for keeping curious parties away from pipeline valves, high city overpasses, and electrical equipment, but if security is a top concern, consider an iron fence.
Like most fences, chain link fences are constructed around posts. There are two types of posts used for chain link fences, terminal posts (also known as corner posts) and line posts. Corner posts are the load-bearers of the fence and make sure the chain link is taut between the posts. Line posts are smaller and spaced in between the corner posts to provide extra stability for the fence and hold the chain link straight.
As far as material is concerned, chain link is made out of steel. But the steel used for chain link fences has become thinner as steel prices have increased over the years. A chain link fence built decades ago may last 50 or 60 years. Today, a chain link fence will likely last you around 25 years.
Choosing the Right Chain Link for Your Application – Material Differences For Chain Link
If you want to limit access with a durable fence at a low price, chain link may be the best fit. But which type of chain link is best for your application?
Galvanized Steel Chain Link
Chain link is manufactured in many different ways to fit many different scenarios, but one thing all good chain link has in common is that it’s galvanized. Steel is the name of the game when it comes to chain link fence, but untreated steel is susceptible to rust and corrosion. The galvanization process coats the steel wire used in chain link with zinc. The zinc coating acts as a guard against rust and corrosion and is integral for any chain link fence to reach its maximum lifespan with good looks intact.
Aluminized Galvanized Chain Link
While galvanization is the best solution to prevent rust and corrosion in most areas, it is not strong enough to prevent rust close to the sea. Large bodies of salty water, such as the Gulf Coast, produce salt spray and salt spray is notorious for corroding steel— galvanized or not. If your planned fence is near the shore, an aluminized galvanized chain link fence is the best option to increase the lifetime of your investment. Aluminized steel is regular steel that has been coated with an aluminum-silicon alloy. The silicon helps the aluminum adhere to the steel, and the result is a signature sleek, shiny sheen of aluminized chain link that will protect your fence from salt spray over the long haul.
Vinyl Coated Chain Link
Vinyl coated chain link is best for situations where chain link is the right fit, but it may be a bit rough around the edges. If your fence is going to have a lot of children coming into contact with it- like a fence around a school playground or a minor-league baseball field- a vinyl-coated chain link fence may be the best solution to prevent scrapes and torn clothes.
Chain Link Fence Gauges
Just as the type of material makes a difference in your fence, so does the size of the material. Chain link wire comes in different gauges ranging from delicate to heavy duty. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. 9 gauge chain link is the standard for commercial grade fences, and it is robust enough for normal wear and tear. If your fence is going to take a beating, 6 gauge is a much better choice. For example, 6 gauge wire would be used for a baseball backstop fence because it’s strong enough to take the impact of baseballs flying at high speeds.
Make sure your fence gauge can stand up against whatever your application throws at it.
Customizing Your Chain Link Fence With Windscreens, Privacy Slats, & Razor Wire
Need even more options for your fence? Because chain link has a lot of gaps, chain link fences aren’t typically thought of as a privacy fence. But there are options to make your chain link fence more private like windscreens and privacy slats. Windscreens help deter gusts of wind, but they also come in different visibility levels. At the highest levels, no light is let through so that your privacy is kept intact. For a more colorful privacy solution, special slats in a range of colors can be placed between the chain link to block views. For added security, barbed and razor wire can be used at the top or bottom of the fence.
If you need to replace a chain link fence or are interested in having a new chain link fence constructed around your school or business, call 281-807-7900 or fill out our contact form for a free estimate.