One of the simplest, most cost-effective methods of fencing in your property is installing a chain link fence. I’ve been building fences most of my life, and I’ve installed my fair share of the chain link variety. Think of the chain link fence as the less attractive older cousin of wood fencing. My company will go through the same steps every time we provide a chain link fence for a client, so I’ll let you in on what it is we do.
Getting Permission Where to Install Chain Link Fence
You would think that because it’s your property, you could do whatever you wanted to it, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, although you own the piece of dirt, you have to follow the rules and regulations surrounding it. That means checking with your city to obtain a fence permit in order to build a fence. Once you have the permit you will also need to find out exactly where your property line is. Even if you think you know, just call out a surveyor anyway, this isn’t the time to guess now and check later.
Be sure to have your property line marked in a way so that you will understand exactly where the line is. After that, you need to find out where the utilities are. You don’t want to be using an electric post hole digger and hear that awful crunching sound of something that’s not earth beneath your feet.
Tip: Dial 811 and you will be able to have your utility company come out to your property and mark the utilities in your yard free of charge. Not a bad way to get started!
Mark the Line
Using stakes, colored flags, and a whole lot of time on your hands, mark the lines where you want the fence to go. Because you are going with a chain link fence, you need to have an exact number in your head of how many feet you want so you can order the proper amount of mesh. Once you have a solid number to work with you can mark the terminal posts. Terminal posts include all end posts, even those for gates. Make sure if you are color coding that you keep your colors straight. Upon noting where your terminal posts will go, you can then figure out the spacing for the other posts.
One of the easiest and often-employed methods of marking your fence line is by a simple string. Tie a string taught from end post to end post until you have a boarder of the entire fencing line. This will help keep you straight and visualize exactly where the fence will go.
Dig Terminal Holes
You already marked where the terminal posts will go, so it’s time to dig the end posts. Using a post hole digger, dig down the length of one third the post you will be setting. The general rule of thumb for any fence material is to sink the post a third of its entire length into the hole.
Tip: Dig the post holes about 2.5 times the width of the actual post. This will help allow for more support and leave room for tamping later.
Fill Terminal Holes
There are many methods of how to place the post in the hole. When we are contracted to build a chain link fence we usually set in a few inches of gravel in the bottom of each hole. After tamping it down we then set in the post. The gravel acts as a natural barrier between the post and the soil and it will also help it sit level and not retain water. Standing the post in the middle of your recent hole, and make sure it is plumb, or even. Keeping the post plumb while filling is tricky, so you will need something to brace it like wooden bracers or clamps.
Once you’re positive that the post isn’t going to go anywhere, fill the rest of the hole with any number of materials. Concrete is a favorite for chain link fence posts, just be sure to keep bubbles out.
Dig and Fill Line Posts
Finally, you have the end posts finished! Now it’s time to fill in the gaps. So grab that post hole digger again and repeat the process you just went through but this time for posts in between the terminal posts. In order to accurately measure the spacing of the line posts, use another string that has been pulled taught between two end posts.
Cap and Tension
A chain link fence functions under the principle of potential energy. You need it to be under tension in order to maintain its rigidity and function properly. When ordering your chain link mesh you should have received tension bands which are used to help secure the mesh to the post.
Caps are necessary to keep water out of the posts and protect your hands from sharp edges. Cap all of your line posts and end posts accordingly. If you need to insert a top rail, do so before hanging the mesh.
Hang the Mesh
You’re almost done, so stay with me. Hanging the mesh and tightening it is probably one of the most complicated steps of this entire process. The important part is that you understand how to do it properly. Be sure to unroll the mesh carefully and keep it straight. Using loops and ties, tie the mesh to the top rail as you go.
If you have a fence puller, use that once all the mesh is unrolled. You need to have the mesh fence under tension so that it has that potential energy. Otherwise you will have one loose mesh fence. Run tension bars through the fence to help with the stretching and keep the fence under tension.
Remove Excess Mesh
It’s important to clean up the fence once you’re finished. You can make last-minute adjustments, too. Do you need more top rail? More tension bands? Another tension bar? Add and stretch until the mesh is at your desired tension. Line up the diamonds to your preferred pattern. Cut off the extra mesh and loose ends. Tie with aluminum wire the fence to the rails. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it, right? The best part is your chain link fence will require little to no maintenance in the years to come, so enjoy.