What Kind of Metal Is a Chain Link Fence?

Chain link fence is made of steel wire, coated to prevent rusting.

History

Thousands of miles of metal chain link fence have been installed in the USA alone.Thousands of miles of metal chain link fence have been installed in the USA alone.
It is woven into chain-link fence by machine. Most chain-link fence is galvanized (coated with zinc), but plastic-coated fences are now manufactured. Chain-link fence used to only come in the metallic color caused by galvanization but is now available in a variety of colors. Chain link fence is still manufactured in the USA as well as in Asia.
It started with simple chicken-wire.

Chain link fence has been around longer than you might think. "Wire-netting" was invented in Norwich, England; a machine was first built to produce it in 1844. Norwich had been a weaving town for centuries making fine fabrics, but in the 19th century the business declined due to competition from cheaper fabrics made elsewhere. Norwich also had a history in metalwork and is located in a large agricultural area. “Weaving” wire was a crossover startup idea. What they invented was chicken-wire; chain link fence developed later using heavier-gauge wire.

Anchor Fence claims to be the oldest chain link fence manufacturer in the USA, established in 1891 using weaving machines from Belgium (another large weaving center in Europe).

Galvanized Wire

Galvanization applies a coating to iron or steel.

At the core of almost every chain link fence is steel wire. It is coated with zinc or a zinc alloy; it can be coated before or after weaving; galvanizing before weaving may result in more even coverage. Zinc does not simply prevent rust by mechanically excluding water; it also has an electrochemical effect where the zinc corrodes rather than the steel. This helps preserve the integrity of the steel. Many outdoor metal fittings are galvanized. Zinc is applied either by hot-dip or electroplating. Zinc alloys such as zinc-aluminum are sometimes used instead of pure zinc. Vinyl-coated chain link often starts with galvanized wire as a base for further coatings.

Plastic Coated Wire

Plastic-coated chain link is becoming more common.

Plastic chain link fence can now be found in stores. Lightweight chicken-wire can be all-plastic, but most chain-link fence with a plastic finish is made of galvanized steel wire that has been through additional processes to add polyvinyl coating. Some coatings are made of powders which are electrostatically applied to the wire and then heated to bond it. The coatings applied in this type of process can be pigmented, and so chain link fence may now come in black, green, brown and other colors.

Fence Accessories

Posts are also galvanized.

Metal fence posts for chain link fence are usually also galvanized steel, as are the clamps for fixing the fence fabric between posts. Privacy slats may be made of aluminum or be all-plastic, such as HDPE (high density polyethylene).

About the Author

Now based in the northwest, Kit Layton began professionally writing and editing in 1967 at a London publishing house. Moving on to technical writing, including computing manuals, Kit’s writing has subsequently ranged over fields such as real estate, business planning, permaculture and art. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, honors, from the University of Nottingham, UK.