What chain link fencing lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in usefulness, affordability and ease of maintenance. Part of the reason chain link fences are such a popular fencing solution is how easily they can be kept up and repaired.
A good chain link fence consists of metal posts set in concrete with a spacing of between 6 and 10 feet between them. The more closely the posts are set, the more rigid the fencing will be, but costs will be higher as well.
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Luckily, part of what keeps maintenance affordable and easily done is the chain link ties, wire or bands used to bind the chain link fabric to the posts and rails. With per-tie costs being generally very low, it's easy to conduct seasonal repairs to keep your fencing at its best.
Chain link wires and ties are not all created equally. "Gauge" is how the strength of the metal is measured in a chain link tie, and the lower the number, the stronger or heavier it is. For residential yard fencing, 11- to 9-gauge ties will get the job done. For commercial and higher-security purposes, 9- to 6-gauge ties are recommended. Heavier-gauge ties will cost you more.
Another pricing difference will be encountered when choosing between preformed wires, bands and ties versus traditional ties. Preformed are easier to attach and inclined to be more secure as they're less likely to be improperly affixed. If choosing preformed, there are many types, and they'll usually have installation instructions included in the packaging.
The Two Most Common Styles
Twist ties are frequently used by commercial installations and even correctional institutions. They're pre-shaped for easy wrapping around the post. Often, they can be quickly twisted into place with a custom drill bit for power tools, making installation much quicker. These drill-tied styles are known for getting chain link fabric super-taut, resulting in fewer vibrations that can set off commercial security alarms.
Self-locking fabric bands are a band, not a tie, that goes around the fence post or rail, wrapping around a part of the chain link wire. One end of the protruding band is longer, to be folded over the shorter end of the band, like an envelop tab. A pair of linesman's pliers can be used to pinch these two parts of the band together, and then fold them over again so it sits flat against the post or rail. These aesthetically-appealing bands are durable enough for all manner of residential use.
Installing Traditional Chain Link Ties
If using traditional ties, sometimes called J-hooks for their shape, it's a little more work than with bands or preformed ties. Simply put, they tie around the post so that both ends come out on opposite sides of the post, through the chain link fabric. Use pliers to fold the tie around one wire of the chain link fabric. Repeat this with the other end of the chain link tie, folding it around another wire in the fabric. Do this for each tie.
The tighter you wrap the tie and fold it over, the more secure and taut the chain link fabric will be.
In a typical installation, recommended tie spacing is every 18 to 24 inches along the fencing and up the fence posts. It's best to go with 18 inches between each tie, though, because this will keep the chain link fabric well-suspended over the long haul. At pennies per tie or band, it's worth it to spend a more time securely affixing the fabric at intervals of 1 foot. On vertical posts use one tie every foot at a minimum.
We've all seen the saggy, baggy chain link fence, and it's the result of using too few ties in the installation process.
If you've got a dog that'll jump on the fence every time the mail truck rolls past or a child who's dreaming of playing soccer in the big leagues and will be kicking their ball against the fence for rebound practice, you'll be grateful you used more ties.