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How to Install Chain Link Fence

Chain Link Fence

Installing a chain link fence is a great do-it-yourself project.
Whether you want to keep things in or keep things out, a chain link fence is just the thing. Another good thing to remember, installing a chain link fence is a great do-it-yourself project. All you need is a little direction. Lowe's has everything you need to get started.


Before you start, it's important to check...

  • That fence footings do not exceed legally established property lines. If uncertain, refer to real estate agent's line plot or consult a professional surveyor.
  • Local codes for specifications regarding frontage locations, allowable fence heights. A permit may be required.
  • With local utility companies for locations of underground cables or pipelines.
Tools & Materials

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
  • Level
  • Pliers
  • 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
Description Picture Quantity to Use Quantity to Buy
Fence Fabric Chain Link Fence Fabric Usually sold in rolls of 50 feet  
Top Rail Top Rail Total footage of fence less gate openings  
Line Posts (intermediate posts) Line Post Divide total footage by 10 and round up (see chart below)  
Terminal Posts (end, corner, and gate posts) (usually larger than line posts) Terminal Posts As required (2 for each gate)  
Top Rail Sleeve Top Rail Sleeve 1 for each length of plain top rail. Not required for swage top rail  
Loop Caps Loop Caps Use 1 per line post (two styles shown left)  
Tension Bar Tension Bar Use 1 for each end or gate post, 2 for each corner post  
Brace Band Brace Band Use 1 per tension bar (holds rail end in place)  
Rail Ends Rail Ends Use 1 per tension bar  
Tension Band Tension Band Use 4 per tension bar or 1 per foot of fence height  
Carriage Bolts 5/16" × 1 1/4" Carriage Bolts Use 1 per tension or brace band  
Post Cap Post Cap Use 1 for each terminal post  
Fence Tie / Hook Ties Fence Tie Hook Ties 1 for every 12" of line posts and 1 for every 24" of top rail  
Walk Gate Walk Gates    
Double Drive Gate Double Swing Drive Fence Gate    
Male Hinge / Post Hinge Maile Hinge Post Hinge 2 per single walk gates and 4 per double drive gate  
Carriage Bolts 3/8" × 3" Carriage Bolts 1 per male hinge  
Female Hinge / Gate Hinge Female Hinge Gate Hinge 2 per single walk gates and 4 per double drive gate  
Carriage Bolt 3/8" × 1 3/4" Carriage Bolt 1 per female hinge  
Fork Latch Gate Fork Latch 1 per walk gate  
Chain Link Fence Part List

For a printable parts and materials shopping list.

For a post spacing guide and graph paper.

Preparing Fence Layout
Prepare Fence Layout
  • STEP 1
    Locate your property's boundary lines. It is recommended that all posts be set approximately 4" inside the property line so that concrete footings do not encroach onto any adjoining property.
  • STEP 2
    Measure the overall length of your planned fence to determine how many feet of chain-link fabric and top rail will be required (Fig. 1).
  • STEP 3
    Mark the location of each terminal post (corner, end, and gate posts are called terminal posts) with a stake. When determining the positions of gate posts, remember that clearance for hinges, latches, is included in the listed opening width of the gate. Therefore, if you ordered a gate for a 36" opening, the post spacing should be exactly 36", inside post face to inside post face.
Setting Terminal Posts
Setting Terminal Posts
  • STEP 1
    Dig terminal post holes approximately 8" in diameter and 30" deep, with sloping sides (Fig. 2). The exact diameter and depth will be determined by local weather and soil conditions.
  • STEP 2
    With crayon or chalk, mark the ground line on posts. Height, above level ground, of terminal posts will equal the height of the fence fabric plus 2".
  • STEP 3
    Center the terminal posts in the holes. Make sure the posts are plumb and set at the correct height. (Crayon mark should be at ground level.) Surround posts with concrete in a continuous pour. Trowel finish around posts and slope downward to direct water away.
Locating and Setting Line Posts
Locating and Setting Line Posts
  • STEP 1
    When the terminal post footings have hardened enough to stabilize the posts, stretch a string line taut between terminal posts. The string should be positioned on the outside face of the posts 4" below the top (Fig. 3). Height, above level ground, of line posts will equal the height of the fabric minus 2".
  • STEP 2
    Locating and Setting Line Posts
    Measure the distance between terminal posts and refer to post spacing chart to determine the distance between line posts. Dig line post holes 6" wide and 18" to 24" deep, with sloping sides (Fig. 4). Center the line posts in the holes. Make sure the posts are plumb, aligned with the centers of terminal posts, and set at the correct height. Surround posts with concrete in a continuous pour. Trowel finish around posts and slope downward to direct water away.
Adding Fittings to Terminal Posts
Adding Fittings to Terminal Posts
  • STEP 1
    After concrete footings have been allowed to sufficiently harden, slip the rail end bands and tension bands onto the terminal posts. (Refer to parts list for the description and quantity of fittings that are required for various post types and heights.) The long flat surface of the tension band should face toward the outside of the fence (Fig 5).
    NOTE: Take care not to spread or distort the fittings.
  • Adding Fittings to Terminal Posts
  • STEP 2
    Apply all terminal post caps.
    Terraced Ground Corner post assembly is used at point A to allow fabric to follow terraced contour of ground (Fig. 6).
    Very Uneven Ground Corner post assembly is used at points A and B when ground rises or drops more than 15" per 100 linear feet (Fig. 7).
Installing Top Rails
    Installing Top Rails
  • STEP 1
    Place line post top on the top of each line post. The off-set round side should be toward the outside of the fence (Fig. 8).
  • Installing Top Rails
  • STEP 2
    Insert one length of top rail through the line post top closest to a terminal post. Slip rail end onto the end of the top rail and attach it to a terminal post by using a rail end band. Secure by using a 5/16" × 1-1/4" carriage bolt with the head to the outside of the fence (Fig. 9).
  • Installing Top Rails
  • STEP 3
    Figure 10.Continue by forcing lengths of swage end top rail together through the line post tops. (If swage end top rail is not used, join lengths together with top rail sleeves.) (Fig. 10)
  • Installing Top Rails
  • STEP 4
    Upon reaching the next terminal post, measure carefully and cut the top rail to fit tightly between the last length of top rail and the rail end. Fasten rail end to rail end band on the terminal post. Secure in place with a 5/16" × 1-1/4" carriage bolt (Fig. 11).
Installing Tension Wire (Optional)
Adding Tension Wire

Figure 12.Wrap tension wire once around bottom rail end band carriage bolt. Using pliers, twist several times to secure (Fig. 12). Tension wire should run along the same side of the posts as the fabric. Apply tension wire clips no more than 24" apart, or as needed for securing the wire to the chain-link fabric.

Hanging Fence Fabric
Hanging Fence Fabric
  • STEP 1
    Starting at a terminal post, unroll chain-link fabric on the ground along the outside of the fence line to the next terminal post. Slide a tension bar through the first row of chain-link diamonds. Fasten evenly spaced tension bands (already on the post) to the tension bar, fabric combination using 5/16" × 1-1/4" carriage bolts with heads to the outside of the fence (Figs. 13 & 14).
  • STEP 2
    Walk along the fabric and stand it up against the fence frame, taking out the slack as you go. Loosely attach fabric to top rail with a few fence ties to hold it in place. Separate enough fabric from the roll to span the opening between the terminal posts.
Remove Excess Fabric

To Remove Excess Fabric:

Remove the excess fabric with pliers by opening the top and bottom loops (knuckles) of a single strand of wire at the desired point of separation. Unwind the strand up through the links until the fabric comes apart (Figs. 15 & 16).

To Splice Sections of Fabric:

Remove Excess Fabric
Splice sections of chain-link fabric together using a single strand of wire, removed from the end of the fabric. Join the two sections by winding the loose strand down, corkscrew style, through the end links. Join and tighten the knuckles at top and bottom to secure.

NOTE: Before sections can be spliced, a second strand may have to be removed to provide a proper mesh.

Stretching Fence Fabric
Stretching Fence Fabric
  • STEP 1
    Temporarily insert a tension bar about 3 feet inside the unattached end of fabric. Securely fasten one end of the fence stretcher to the tension bar and the other end to the terminal post (Fig. 17). Stretch the fabric. The correct fabric tension should allow a slight amount of give when squeezed by hand. Remove the temporary tension bar.
  • STEP 2
    Adjust the fabric to exact length by adding or removing wire as shown in figures 15 and 16. Insert a tension bar at the end of the fabric and connect to tension bands on terminal post.
Stretching Fence Fabric

Hillside Stretch - Bias Cutting: (If Necessary)

If the top of the chain-link fabric does not create a right angle to the terminal post, the fabric must be cut on a bias so that the tension bar can slide into the fabric at the proper angle. Pull the chain-link fabric until the top or bottom, whichever is shortest, reaches the terminal post. The other corner of the fabric will extend past the terminal post. Insert the tension bar at an angle through the fabric parallel to the terminal post (Fig. 18).

Remove the excess wire by cutting the strands that form the diamond at the tension bar leaving them long enough to bend over the bar. Do not cut every wire. The number of wires cut depends on the degree of slope and the height of the fence.

Installing Fence Ties
Installing Fence Ties

Fasten the fabric securely with fence ties spaced approximately 24" apart along the top rail and 12" apart on each line post (Fig 19). Finally, securely tighten nuts on all rail end bands and tension bands.

Hanging the Gate
Hanging the Gate

A similar installation procedure is used on both single swing and double swing gates (Figs. 20 & 21).

  • STEP 1
    Apply gate post hinges to gate post approximately 8" from the top and bottom of the gate post with the top hinge pin pointing down and the bottom hinge pin pointing up. This will prevent the gate from being removed and/or from dropping off. Tighten all bolts securely.
  • STEP 2
    Hanging the Double-Swing Gate
    Apply gate frame hinges to gate frame. Loosely fasten bolts so they can be easily adjusted on the gate frame. Hang gate(s) in place so that the bottom of the gate has approximately 2" of ground clearance. Tighten the bolts on the bottom frame hinge first, then adjust and tighten the bolts securely at the top.
  • STEP 3
    Position gate fork latch at a convenient height. Tighten all bolts securely.

NOTE: Adjust Latch Assembly on the double swing gate to the correct height and tighten all bolts securely (Fig. 21).

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