As you may have noticed, chain link fabric, framework, and fittings are all available in various grades, gauges, and with different types of finishes. Briefly, I will attempt to differentiate between a few of the options.

Residential Grades “Standard/Light Duty”: Framework (terminal posts, line posts, and top rail). The minimum we carry in framework is .065 wall thickness (16 ga.) tubing. This is typically the minimum any professional fence company would offer. There are cheaper options on the market; however with all the hard work involved with installing fences, the cheaper, thinner pipe is hardly worth the effort. A cheaper pipe for use for framework for example is a .035 wall thickness. This is typically found at do-it-yourself type stores and chains nationwide. Most of this type framework one can bend over one’s knee. We suggest 1 7/8” O.D. (outside diameter) for terminal posts, i.e. end, corner, and gate posts. For line posts, or the intermediate posts as they are sometimes called, we recommend 1-5/8″ O.D. posts for up to 5′ high fences. 6′ high chain link fences should be installed with a 1 7/8” O.D. and 2 3/8” terminals, especially if you ever plan on installing privacy slats in the future. 1-3/8″ O.D. top rail is sufficient for most residential jobs. We typically do not recommend this tubing for fences higher than 6′.

Residential Chain Link Fabric/Mesh/Wire “Standard/Light Duty”: Most do-it-yourself centers offer a 12 or 12-1/2 gauge chain link fabric. Typically this has a 2-1/2″ mesh. We offer at minimum an 11 ga. fabric which has an approx. 2″ mesh. With chain link wire, the smaller the number of gauge – the thicker, stronger it is. Although a 1-2 gauge difference does not appear to be much, experience would teach you otherwise. Not only is one stronger than the other, but the galvanized coating is much better on thicker wire. The thicker the wire, the longer it may be hot dipped in zinc without melting which creates the rust prohibiting galvanized coating. This principle also applies to the pipe framework. The cost difference between what one might find at a do-it-yourself center and what we carry isn’t much and well worth the investment.

Residential/Light Commercial Framework “Heavy/Medium Duty”: We recommend a larger diameter framework for residential customers wanting a higher quality fence which will last longer. It is also a cost efficient solution for light duty commercial use. The diameters for posts and top rail are the one size larger as above; 2 3/8” for gates and terminals, 1 7/8” for lines and 1 5/8” for top rail. 7′ and 8′ high fences will often feature a 2-7/8″ terminal post and 2-3/8” line posts.

Residential/Lig ht Commercial Chain Link Fabric/Mesh/Wire “Heavy/Medium Duty”: 11 gauge is the preferred gauge for residential and light commercial use.

Commercial Framework “Full Weight/Heavy Duty”: SS40 framework is far superior to any and all previously mentioned framework options. It is also manufactured domestically advertised as being 30% stronger and 20% lighter than mill structural pipe.

Additional Notes Pertaining to Baseball/Softball Field Fences: We suggest all SS40 pipe for backstops. ‘Hanging Canopies’ may use a lighter gauge to cut down on weight. Fabric should all be 9 gauge minimum to withstand public and sporting abuse. It is not unusual for the bottom portion of backstops which receive the majority of abuse to utilize stronger 6 ga. mesh. The diameter of posts to use will depend on height of backstop and other structural details. We would quote a 20′ backstop with 4″ terminal posts. All horizontal rails and bracing should be 1-5/8″ diameter. Sideline fencing is often 6′ high or taller. Dugouts and player benches are often located here. Many quality fields will have mid and bottom rails for the sideline fences for additional strength. Outfield fences rarely have mid or bottom rails. Many are only 4′ high and most have bottom tension wire. Knuckle x knuckle chain link fabric is the norm for public facilities. This simply means the top and bottom of the mesh is bent over “knuckled” so that sharp ends are not exposed. Knuckle x twist means the mesh will have bent over on one end and twisted to a point on the other and is typically used for security fences. The twist portion may be installed up or down.

Chain link has never been called ‘high-tensile’ to my knowledge. ‘High-Tensile’ is a type of agricultural fence which is usually one single or multiple wires strung horizontally for cows and horses. Many simple tie white scarves to this fence so that animals can see it. Some styles of high tensile have a white PVC band-like material to them. I doubt you will be needing this for a baseball field! To conclude, SS40 is the fence industry’s premium pipe. If your city’s budget permits, we highly recommend using SS40 for the entire framework. Using 2-3/8″ terminals and 1-7/8″ posts for the 4′ high fence is sufficient. Use 2-7/8″ terminals on the 8′ high fence and 2-3/8″ line posts for the best performance. 9ga. galvanized wire is the norm, knuckle x knuckle (abbreviated as KK). Consider 6 ga. for the bottom portion of the backstop, mid rails for sideline fences if they exist, and bottom wire for outfield fences. Larger gates will have larger gate posts. There is very little price difference between a 10′ and 12′ gate; most of the cost is associated with labor. Assuming this is a double gate, 8′ high, the normal 2-7/8″ O.D. posts will suffice.

Hopefully this has helped differentiate between various grades of chain link and framework on the market.

11 gauge fabric is the thinnest fabric we use for residential chain link projects. Although there are lighter gauges available, we have found this to be the lightest which holds up well. 9 gauge is a heavier fabric and would require a heavier framework to support it, SS20 or SS40 for example. Not only is this fabric stronger and will resist bending and chewing by animals, it also has a better, longer lasting galvanized finish. This is because a heavier wire or pipe may be ‘hot-dipped’ longer without melting in the galvanizing solution. It will not rust as soon and this is one advantage many people do not realize.
As you might guess, we are in favor of replacing older chain link fences which have lost their ‘luster’, however I have seen many chain link fences which have been painted. I would guess that it is best to paint them with a sprayer or rollers, though we have no experience with painting fences, only replacing them. As far as the type of paint, we recommend checking with a paint dealer/specialist for options. Paint and applying paint is not our specialty. There are a few things about galvanized finishes for chain link fences that I will point out though.

Many of our customers have inquired about painting them since vinyl posts, framework, and fittings can double project costs. Colored vinyl fabric on galvanized framework is not much more expensive than an all galvanized job, however once one wants the framework coated as well, it often doubles the cost. New galvanized materials should not be painted immediately. Depending on the specific type of material used, much of it has a slight shine or gloss to it. Technically, the shine needs removed before painting in order for paint to adhere properly. This can be done in a few different ways. You may apply an acidic solution to it and a light sanding to prep the material to accept paint or let it naturally weather a few years. We apply a chemical solution to an occasional custom galvanized tubular frame which is then sent to a powder coat facility for custom gates.

We have always preferred cementing fence posts. However, driven posts are popular for temporary fences and fences that are installed for people renting, as they can be easily removed when relocating. However, we recommend setting gate posts in concrete.
The proper installation of chain link over such obstacles will depend on a few variables such as the footage between and over obstacles. If you simply need to span a few feet over a cement of asphalt island/curb, it is probably easiest to set posts as if those obstacles weren’t there and simple avoid having to set posts in concrete or asphalt. When you stretch the fence, simply trim the bottom of the fence around the obstacles. If the obstacles are larger and you must set posts in them, you most likely want to install terminal posts at the base of each obstacle. These terminal posts will allow you to connect the fence fabric separately for each height. This will provide the flexibility you may need for various heights of fence.
When stretching a mason line for setting fence posts, do so as low as possible to the ground, approx. 3-5″. Wrap the string around stakes, wood or steel ones work well. This string is used to set the posts in a straight line only. This string is seldom used as a guide for depth of post or the post height. The correct way to set posts to the correct height depends on the styles of fence you are installing. With chain link fence, all posts are typically set in concrete one day; framework and fabric is installed later, after the concrete has cured. One will need to make ‘grade marks’ on the posts with a marker. This is the depth marker for setting the posts. With galvanized fabric, make grade marks on terminal posts 2″ taller than the height of fence. Line posts should be set 1-2” shorter than the height of fence to be installed. Subtract an extra 1/2″ on line posts if you are stretching vinyl fabric as this has a tendency to shrink in height slightly as it is stretched. Concentrate on one length of fence at a time. Dig holes, fill with cement, and set all posts to these grade marks in the ground. Go to end of fence line and look across the tops of the posts.

For uneven grades, you will see that the top of the posts follow the uneven grade since you set all posts equal distance from the ground surface, or grade. Typically one will need to fine tune these heights and this is simply done by sighting in the posts. Since top rail is set on top of the line posts, raise and lower line posts slightly to provide for a smooth transition between each post. Keep in mind anytime you lower a line post below the grade mark, the fence fabric will need trenched and buried. Likewise, the distance between the grade marks and the ground surface is how much space you will have underneath the fence. Often one will bury the fence a little in one spot and fill in under the fence in other spots in order to have the top rail run smoothly.

Bowers Fencing sells extruded vinyl coated chain link fabric. What is extruded vinyl? In layman’s terms, extruded vinyl, when cut with a knife, can be peeled off like a banana. However, it does not peel easily. That is what makes extruded different than bonded vinyl, which would have to be cut off completely, much like peeling a potato. Bonded costs more than extruded. We do not sell bonded vinyl fabrics. Note about gauges: The smaller the number, the heavier the fabric; henceforth 9ga. is heavier than 11ga.. We recommend 11ga. for residential jobs and 9ga. for commercial jobs. Vinyl coated chain link is sold by the finish gauge. 9 ga. chain link vinyl coated actually has a thinner inner steel wire. It is considered 9 gauge once it has been coated, although the inner steel wire is nearest 11 ga. Vinyl chain link fabric is available in black, green, brown and white.
We feature multiple products for self-closing chain link type gates. Inquire to see what will work best for your application.
Fence installation and labor costs for installing fence can vary significantly due to the following variables for a fencing contractor:

Fence Layout: The fence can be one straight line, or consist of numerous corners, gates, and other interruptions in the fence line. These items increase the cost of materials and also the labor to install.

Fence Terrain: The fence may need installed in average soil conditions, or it may need installed in extremely rocky soil, through asphalt and/or concrete surfaces, or through wet areas. Each of these variables can increase the cost to install the fence, either in materials, or labor, or use of additional tools not normally needed.

Fence Details: The height of the fence, quantity of gates, difficulty of installation can all affect the price a contractor charges for installation.

Many trades such as carpentry, roofing, and the electrical or plumbing trades could arguably have more defined fixed costs. Often, their work is confined to a fixed building with all work exposed for estimating. They can usually pull their work vehicles right up to a building and perform their tasks fairly predictably. Fencers, on the other hand, often have to guess at what’s below the ground surface and numerous other variables to define the time involved with installing a fence. In climate weather, buried utility lines, and buried hard surfaces can sometimes make a job which looked profitable, barely doable.

Fortunately, Bowers Fencing can provide free and accurate ‘to-the-nut-and-bolt’ estimates for chain link fence, ornamental steel fence, wood fence, vinyl fence, and vinyl and aluminum railing projects. This provides you with one finite and fixed cost to work with. You may simply call us with measurements, send us an email, or fax us the description and fence layout. Once we have a material cost we can usually provide a range of costs you could expect if you choose to hire us to install our products. We also can estimate the ‘normal and ideal’ amount of time required to install our fence products.

Lastly, we do offer free installation manuals for nearly every style and type of fence, or fence product we offer. You may review these before purchasing fence from us and call or email us if you have questions. We are available before, during, and after your installation for technical support, installation tips and tricks.

A relatively easy, efficient, and good way to further secure the bottom of a chain link fence is to install a bottom tension wire. This wire reinforces the bottom of a chain link fence and helps prevent the bottom from ‘pulling’ up if an animal tries to push the fabric out and away from the fence line. This bottom chain link fence tension wire, is available in various gauges. 12.5 gauge barbless wire is common for both residential. A 7 gauge spring coil wire is more common on commercial, and heavy commercial chain link fences. This wire runs between terminal posts, i.e. end post, corner post, and/or gate post is is in-between, sandwiched between the line (intermediate) posts and the chain link fabric. It does not get woven into the chain link fabric as some people think. It is simply attached to terminal posts by wrapping directly to the posts, or wrapping it to a nut in bolt holding a brace band in place. Chain link fence bottom tension wire is stretched using a come-a-long and cable puller, or with a T-Bar. We have a detailed “How To Install Chain Link Fence” installation manual for installing tension wire here.

During a new installation, bottom tension wire is normally stretched after the fence project is framed, meaning posts have set, top rail and/or bracing has been installed. Tension wire is stretched on the outside of the fence enclosure. Chain link is then stretched afterwards.

When retrofitting an existing chain link fence with bottom tension wire. The bottom tie wire securing the chain link fabric to the posts is normally removed and replaced later. Stretch tension wire on outside of the chain link fence, the same side of the fence that the fabric is on, opposite the posts and top rail. Once tension wire is stretched, walk along fence line and tuck the bottom tension wire under, then between the posts and the chain link fabric. Go to inside of fence, and secure tension wire to chain link fabric with steel, aluminum, or vinyl coated hog rings, normally every two feet, or closer if more strength is needed. Replace fence ties on bottom of line posts.

If you continue to have problems with your dogs ‘pushing’ the bottom of the fence away, stakes shaped like a horse-shoe can be made and drive to catch the bottom tension wire. We’ve taken chain link truss rods, cut them approximately every 18″ or so and bend the in a U-shape. One or two of these stakes per space between posts should suffice.

As last recourse, a bottom rail can be installed. Choose a diameter and grade to match your top rail, normally 1-3/8″ O.D., or 1-5/8″ O.D.. This is normally sold in 21′ or 24′ lengths and will need cut to fit inline the top rail which rests on top of line posts. We carry full length chain link tubing in .065 wall (16 gauge). Attach bottom rail to terminal posts using either end rail clamps, or rail end cups and brace bands. Bottom rail will attach to line posts with chain link line rail clamps.

First – make sure your fence line isn’t right on top of a water line, sewer line, or septic line! Remember to always call before you dig before installing a fence and understand some private lines will not be marked by the utility companies!

It is not unusual for fence post holes to fill up with water – even when you haven’t dug into a water line! Ground water can rapidly fill fence post holes simply by seeping into the freshly excavated hole. The problem with excess water is that it can have an adverse effect on your concrete mix. Too much water can dilute your concrete mix, consisting of sand, gravel, and cement. This excess water will ‘wash out’ your concrete mix, leaving your fence post set in merely sand and gravel. When excess water fills into a freshly dug hole, there is little you can do about it. Often fence post holes are dug with an auger. Loose dirt should always be removed from the bottom of the hole manually with a good set of post hole diggers. After, you’ll still be left with a hole full of water.

The easiest way is to use very little or no water in the cement mix and to very carefully pour the mix around the post, reducing the ‘wash out’ effect. The water will be forced out the top of the hole.