How to Install Chain Link Fence

Before Starting
Find out if you are required to obtain building and zoning permits.
Will your fence meet neighborhood deed restrictions.
Establish property lines.
Have your underground utilities located. (Blue staked)
If you are having your fence installed by someone, are they covered by Workman’s Compensations Insurance?

Useful tools for installing chain link fence
Tape Measure
Wire Cutters
Sledge Hammer
Post Hole Digger
Wheelbarrow, Shovel and Hoe to Mix and Transport Concrete
Hacksaw or Pipe Cutter
String / Mason Line and Stakes
Crescent Wrench
Fence Stretcher (ratchet type power pull, block and tackle, or similar device may be used. Most wire stretching tools can be borrowed or locally rented.)

Materials Needed for Residential Chain Link Fence
DescriptionPictureQuantity to UseQuantity to Buy
Fence FabricChain Link Fence FabricUsually sold in rolls of 50 feet 
Top RailTop RailTotal footage of fence less gate openings 
Line Posts (intermediate posts)Line PostDivide total footage by 10 and round up (see chart below) 
Terminal Posts (end, corner, and gate posts) (usually larger than line posts)Terminal PostsAs required (2 for each gate) 
Top Rail SleeveTop Rail Sleeve1 for each length of plain top rail. Not required for swedged top rail 
Loop CapsLoop CapsUse 1 per line post (two styles shown left) 
Tension BarTension BarUse 1 for each end or gate post, 2 for each corner post 
Brace BandBrace BandUse 1 per tension bar (holds rail end in place) 
Rail EndsRail EndsUse 1 per tension bar 
Tension BandTension BandUse 4 per tension bar or 1 per foot of fence height 
Carriage Bolts 5/16″ x 1 1/4″Carriage BoltsUse 1 per tension or brace band 
Post CapPost CapUse 1 for each terminal post 
Fence Tie / Hook TiesFence Tie Hook Ties1 for every 12″ of line posts and 1 for every 24″ of top rail 
Walk GateWalk Gates  
Double Drive GateDouble Swing Drive Fence Gate  
Male Hinge / Post HingeMaile Hinge Post Hinge2 per single walk gates and 4 per double drive gate 
Carriage Bolts 3/8″ x 3″Carriage Bolts1 per male hinge 
Female Hinge / Gate HingeFemale Hinge Gate Hinge2 per single walk gates and 4 per double drive gate 
Carriage Bolt 3/8″ x 1 3/4″Carriage Bolt1 per female hinge 
Fork LatchGate Fork Latch1 per walk gate 

Step 1 – Survey Property Lines
Be sure that the fence does not exceed property lines. Most fence installers recommend that all posts be set approximately 4″ inside the property line. This will help avoid encroaching on adjoining property with concrete footings. This is easily done by stretching a string along the property line and setting the posts 4″ inside.

Step 2 – Locate and set Terminal Posts
 (corner, end, and gate posts are called terminal posts)
Distance between gate posts is determined by adding the actual width of the gate plus an allowance for hinges and latches. Usually walk gates require 3 3/4″ for hinges and latches and double drive gates require 5 1/2″. Next, dig the holes.

Terminal posts should be set 2″ higher than the height of the fence fabric and line posts 2″ lower than the height of the fence fabric (terminal posts should be 4″ higher than the line posts). Set the terminal posts in concrete using a concrete mix. You can use 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, and 4 parts gravel. There is also pre-mix cement. Use a level to make sure the posts are straight. Posts should be centered in the hole. Crown posts footings so the water will drain away from the posts.

Step 3 – Locate and set Line Posts
After the concrete around the terminal posts have hardened, stretch a string tight between the terminal posts. The string should be 4″ below the top of the terminal posts. Line posts should not be spaced more than 10 feet apart. For example, if the length between two terminal posts is 30 feet, then line posts would be spaced 10 feet apart (see chart below).

Line Post Spacing Chart

Space Between Terminal PostsSet Line Posts Apart Space Between Terminal PostsSet Line Posts Apart
30 ft10 ft76 ft9 ft 6 in
31 ft7 ft 9 in77 ft9 ft 7 in
32 ft8 ft78 ft9 ft 9 in
33 ft8 ft 3 in79 ft9 ft 10 in
34 ft8 ft 6 in80 ft10 ft
35 ft8 ft 9 in81 ft9 ft
36 ft9 ft82 ft9 ft 1 in
37 ft9 ft 3 in83 ft9 ft 3 in
38 ft9 ft 6 in84 ft9 ft 4 in
39 ft9 ft 9 in85 ft9 ft 6 in
40 ft10 ft86 ft9 ft 7 in
41 ft8 ft 2 in87 ft9 ft 8 in
42 ft8  ft 5 in88 ft9 ft 9 in
43 ft8  ft 6 in89 ft9 ft 10 in
44 ft8 ft 9 in90 ft9 ft
45 ft9 ft91 ft9 ft 2 in
46 ft9 ft 2 in92 ft9 ft 2 in
47 ft9 ft 5 in93 ft9 ft 3 in
48 ft9 ft 7 in94 ft9 ft 5 in
49 ft9 ft 9 in95 ft9 ft 6 in
50 ft10 ft96 ft9  ft 7 in
51 ft8 ft 6 in97 ft9  ft 7 in
52 ft8 ft 8 in98 ft9  ft 8 in
53 ft8 ft 10 in99 ft9  ft 9 in
54 ft9 ft100 ft10  ft
55 ft8 ft 2 in101 ft9  ft 2 in
56 ft9 ft 4 in102 ft9  ft 3 in
57 ft9 ft 6 in103 ft9  ft 4 in
58 ft9 ft 8 in104 ft9  ft 5 in
59 ft9 ft 10 in105 ft9  ft 6 in
60 ft10 ft106 ft9  ft 7 in
61 ft8 ft 8 in107 ft9  ft 8 in
62 ft8 ft 10 in108 ft9  ft 9 in
63 ft9 ft109 ft9  ft 10 in
64 ft9 ft110 ft10 ft
65 ft9 ft 3 in111 ft9  ft 3 in
66 ft9 ft 5 in112 ft9  ft 4 in
67 ft9 ft 7 in113 ft9  ft 5 in
68 ft9 ft 8 in114 ft9  ft 6 in
69 ft9 ft 10 in115 ft9  ft 7 in
70 ft10 ft116 ft9  ft 8 in
71 ft8 ft 9 in117 ft9  ft 9 in
72 ft9 ft118 ft9  ft 10 in
73 ft9 ft 2 in119 ft9  ft 10 in
74 ft9 ft 3 in120 ft10 ft
75 ft9 ft 4 in121 ft9  ft 3 in

Dig the post holes and set the line posts. Before concrete begins to set, adjust post height by moving post up or down. Top of the line posts should be even with the string. Check with level to make sure posts are straight.

Step 4 – Apply Fittings to Terminal Posts
Check material list and fittings chart above. After all posts have been installed and the concrete footings have hardened, slip the tension and brace bands onto the terminal posts. The long flat surface of the tension band should face towards the outside of the fence. Take care not to spread or distort the fittings. Now apply terminal post caps.

Step 5 – Apply Top Rail
Attach loop caps to line posts. Insert one length of top rail pipe through the eye-top closest to one of the terminal post. Slide a rail end onto the end of the top rail and attach it to a termianl post by using the brace band (If using swedge top rail, do not insert the swedged end into the rail end). Secure the rail end to the brace band with a carriage bolt. Continue by attaching top rails together. If swedged top rail is not used, you’ll connect the rail ends together by using top rail sleeve. Upon reaching the other terminal post, measure carefully and cut the top rail to fit tightly into the rail end. Secure rail end to the terminal post with brace band and carriage bolt.

Step 6 – Hang Chain Link Fabric
Unroll the chain link fabric on the ground along the fence line. Slide tension bar through the last link on the chain link fabric. Stand the fabric up and lay it against the posts. Fasten the tension bar (that you just inserted) to the terminal post with tension bands (already on the post). Use the carriage bolts with the head to the outside of the fence. Walk along the fence and take the slack out. Loosely attach fabric to top rail with a few wire ties.

To connect two sections or rolls of fence fabric together – take a single strand of wire from one of the sections of fence (Sometimes it is necessary to remove a second wire on the one end in order for the two sections to mesh properly.). Place the two section of fence next to each other (end on end). Join the two sections by winding (corkscrew fashion) the loose strand down through the fence. Join and tighten the knuckles at bottom and top. Now you shouldn’t even be able to see where the two sections were connection together.

Step 7 – Stretch Chain Link Fabric
Fabric should already be fastened to the opposite end of the fence. Insert a tension bar (may need an extra one) approximately 3 feet inside the unattached end of the fabric. Securely fasten one end of the fence stretcher to the tension bar and the other end to the terminal post. Stretch the fabric – the correct tension should allow a slight amount of give when squeezed by hand. The top of the fabric should be located approximately 1/2″ above top rail. Adjust fabric to exact length by adding or removing wire as mentioned in step 6. Insert a tension bar at the end of the fabric and connect tension bands on terminal post. Remove fence stretcher. Attach wire ties to top rail 24″ apart. Attach wire ties to posts 12″ apart. Tighten nuts on all brace and tension bands.

Step 8 – Hanging Gates
After the fence has been completed, install the male hinges to one of the gate posts, hanging the top hinge with pin pointing down and the bottom hinge with the pin pointing up. This will prevent the gate from being lifted off. Set gate in place, aligning top of the gate with the top of fence. Adjust and tighten hinges to allow for full swing. Install gate latch for single gates. Double gates use the same procedure but install center latching device (fork latch).

Help installing chain link fence on a slope.

Notes: Post depth can be determined by local weather and soil conditions, terminal posts are normally dug 10″ wide and 18″ to 30″ deep. Depending on the wind and soil conditions you may want to use 8′ centers or even a more narrow spacing for line posts. You may want to use longer line or terminal posts depending on the wind and soil conditions in your area. If you want to add privacy slats in the future, make sure the frame work will be strong enough for additional wind load.

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