How To Make Your Chain Link Fence Last

Chain link fences are popular for their low cost, lack of visual intrusiveness and durability. However, like any type of fence, you should provide your chain link fence with care and maintenance so that it keeps doing its job well. Here are a few things you can do to keep your chain link fence in tip-top condition for a long time to come:

Paint it

Today's chain link fences are constructed of galvanized steel components; they may be uncoated or coated with a polymer coating. Galvanized fences can be expected to last for at least a decade before the coating begins to deteriorate and rust begins. Polymer coated fences have a much longer lifespan.

If you have a galvanized fence, you should consider painting it to prolong its lifespan by preventing the onset of rust. Specialized paints are available for painting fences, but these are not necessary to obtain good results. Here is a brief overview of how to paint a galvanized fence:

  1. Strip away any oil or greasy residue - trisodium phosphate (TSP) is inexpensive, safe, and it will effectively remove oil. Home improvement stores carry TSP in powder and premixed liquid forms. Apply the TSP with a wire brush.
  2. Apply a water-based primer - avoid using oil-based paints that react to the zinc in the galvanized coating, as this will degrade your finish in time.
  3. Paint it with a color of your choice - again, be sure to use water-based paints.

Keep things off

Chain link fencing is sturdy, but they can be bent and warped by climbing. Keep your children from climbing the fence, and train pets to stay off, as well. Even a large cat can put strain on a chain link fence over time, for example. If you find a continual need to access the other side of your fence, it is less expensive in the long run to install a new gate when you consider the cost of repair or replacement.

In addition, be careful that you don't lean items against a chain link fence. Using a fence to prop up sheets of plywood, scrap lumber and other items is convenient, but the lateral force of these items against the wire fabric can leave a permanent "bubble". In addition, items clustered near a fence can lead to water pooling, and this can erode the soil beneath the posts and create an uneven fence line over time.

Keep the plants away

The look of an ivy-covered fence is pleasant and evokes peaceful, homey feelings. Unfortunately, allowing plants to grow in and around your chain link fence is a quick way to destroy it. Plant roots break apart concrete post foundations, and the weight of vines and stems warp and bend components. The moisture associated with plants also accelerates the onset of rust.

If you want a greener "fence", consider using high-quality silk foliage. It can be expensive, but you will avoid the destructive effects of living plants. Spray the fence line with an appropriate weed and grass killer each spring, and you will keep plant growth from becoming a problem.

Stretch the wire fabric

Over time, the wire fabric will weaken and stretch, and this can lead to sagging. If this happens, you can have your fence re-stretched. While this can be done by you and a helper, you will need to use a come-along, a ratchet that will pull the wire taut, as well as a couple of other pieces of special equipment. Your local fence installer can stretch the wire fabric for you quickly and easily.

If you decide to stretch your fence, then be sure to attach new pieces of aluminum tie wire. These wire snippets twist around the fabric and top rail, and they fasten these components together. Tie wires will stabilize your fence and help prevent it from leaning, warping or sagging.