How to Install Chain Link on Wood Posts

Chain link with wood is sometimes called California Style. It's a light-duty version of the standard steel post chain link fence. The standard chain link fence looks industrial, and is typically used commercially. The California style, with a wood framework, is used in rural settings for aesthetics, to provide security for pets and children, and to keep other animals at bay.

Chain Link Unraveled

Chain link fence parts are different from standard fencing supplies, but the skeleton of rails and fasteners required for a conventional chain link fence are not needed for a wood post installation. The chain link itself -- also referred to as chain link fabric -- is wire mesh, but the weave of chain link is tighter and thicker than typical wire mesh fencing. Nevertheless, the procedure for installing chain link on wooden posts is much the same as the installation of standard wire mesh fencing.

The Existing Wooden Fence

Chain link fabric should have fasteners every 3 inches along the length at the top and bottom, so it's essential that the fence have sturdy top and bottom rails for this purpose. Additional horizontal rails between the top and bottom rail are also beneficial, but not necessary. It's fine to use chain link fabric as an infill with this design. If your fence doesn't have top and bottom rails, they must be added.

Condition of Existing Fence

Check the condition of your existing fence to determine if it can stand up to the added tension and wind loading of chain link, which is much heavier than conventional wire fencing. Wind loading may not seem like an issue, but if debris collects against the fence, wind loading can be significant. Check the condition of the rails. If loose, toe-nail lag screws through them.

Corner Posts

Corner posts receive the brunt of the tension. If the posts wiggle, show signs of decay, damage or integrity is lacking, replacement may be necessary.

Replacing Posts Using Concrete

Dig holes three times wider than the posts, one third the length of the post in depth. Add 6 inches of gravel to the hole. Insert the post and brace it plumb, using scrap lumber, then fill the hole with concrete. Let the concrete cure for at least 24 hours before removing the braces.

Bracing Posts with Floating Braces

The floating brace is the familiar angled post on traditional wooden fencing. Cut a notch at least 3/4 inch deep about halfway up the post. Toe-nail another post at 30 degrees into the notch. Bury the other end into the ground, parallel with the tension of the fence line.

Install Chain Link on Wood

Simple materials and tools are all you need to install chain link fabric on wooden posts. Chain link fabric is available in different widths, finishes, gauges and materials. Choose one that best matches your application. It's possible to install chain link fabric by yourself, but an assistant is highly recommended.

Step 1

Place a roll of chain link fabric upright at one corner post. Unroll the starting end about 18 inches. Plumb it vertically against the post, centered and overlapping the top and bottom rails equally.

Step 2

Hammer one fencing staple through the top of the fabric, to secure it to the post.

Step 3

Align the bottom end vertically with the post, using a level if necessary. Hammer staples in every 6 inches vertically through the mesh.

Step 4

Unroll the fabric to the other corner post, using an assistant to help you handle it.

Step 5

Stretch the fabric horizontally, with either a fence stretcher or a come-along to pull it tight. The fence stretcher is a hand-held device with a handle and a curved hook. Hook the curve on the fabric, and use the handle as a fulcrum, pushing on the post to tighten the fabric. The come-along is a hand-operated winch that has two hooks, one of which is attached to a cable. Cranking the tool's lever pulls the cable to tighten the fabric. Secure one of the hooks onto the fabric, the other onto the post. Pump the lever to tighten the fabric.

Step 6

Staple the fabric to the corner post every 6-inches vertically. Cut the fabric, if necessary, using fencing pliers.

Step 7

Starting from one corner post, staple the fabric along the top rail horizontally along the length to the nearest post, spacing fence staples 3 inches apart. Leave the bottom loose for now. Staple the fabric to the top of the post.

Step 8

Stretch the fabric tight vertically. Hammer staples along the post every 6 inches vertically. Hammer staples along the bottom rail every 3 inches working back to the starting point at the corner to complete one section.

Step 9

Work your way to the next post in the section, tugging upward on the fabric as needed to keep the top of it horizontal with the top rail. Hammer staples every 3 inches to secure it to the top rail, and staples every 6 inches vertically for wood posts.

Step 10

Continue to secure the wire to the rails and posts, keeping the fence stretched tight with the fence stretcher for each section.

About Gates

The installation of a gate requires sturdy posts; setting them in concrete is typically necessary. Once you've established their integrity, use gate hardware only. Gate hardware is designed to flex and move with outdoor gates.

Step 11

Prop up the gate with blocks, in place as if it were already installed on the fence. Mark the locations of the gate hinges on the post. Remove the gate.

Step 12

Drill pilot holes for the hinges, and screw them to the post.

Step 13

Prop the gate in place again and screw the hinges on the post to the hinges on the gate.