How to Install Chain Link Fence

A little boy and a dog behind a chain link fence - face to face look.
What You'll Need
Post Hole Digger
Carriage bolts
Chain link fence and accessories

Chain link fences are a safe and inexpensive way to ad security to your home. Setting up and installing a chain link fence isn't as difficult as you might think.

Growing up in the country, my family kept us roaming children in with a chain link fence. It may not have been as pretty as some of the more decorative ones out there, but it was simple and effective. I have a lot of memories climbing and eventually vaulting over that fence and the good news is it’s actually simple to install with a little planning.

Step 1 - Mark and Plan

A chain link fence is made up of three primary elements: posts, rolls of chain link and gates. The first step is to plan the layout of your fence. This includes not only where the primary corner posts are, but also where you plan to put the gates. Corner and gate posts are commonly called terminal posts.

Place a stake in the ground where each of the terminal posts belong. You can use this as a guideline. The corner posts are easy to plan, the gate posts required a little extra work. Measure the width of your gate and place a mark on each side. One post will hold the gate and the other will hold the latch to shut it.

Step 2 - Set the Terminal Posts

Using a post hole digger, dig about 30 inches deep and at least 8 inches wide for each post. Center each post and pour in concrete until it reaches ground level. Use a trowel to smooth it out. It’s important that the posts are centered and straight. It not only looks bad to have a crooked post, but also can make attaching the fence difficult.

Step 3 - Set the Line Posts

Let the concrete in the terminal posts harden overnight, and then it’s time to install the line posts. The line posts are the posts that go between the terminal posts. Connect a string between the terminal posts to help center and measure the line posts. These have to be in direct line with the terminal posts or else it will be an eyesore and difficult to attach the fence.

Measure the distance between the posts and check your specific fence’s post spacing chart. The general rule is there needs to be posts about every 10 feet, but it can vary depending on the fence size. Mark each spot with a stake and then dig about 24 inches deep and 6 inches wide. Center the post, and fill it with concrete.

Once the concrete has set, place the tension bands on the posts. The number depends on the post height, so refer back to the fence instructions. These simply fit around the posts usually at the top, middle, and bottom. Place the caps on the terminal posts, these just fit on top of the posts.

Step 4 - Install the Rails

The rails help secure the chain link and are placed just below the fence cap. Connect the first top rail piece to a terminal post using a rail end band and secure it using a carriage bolt. Add rail links until you reach the following terminal post and cut the rail using a hacksaw so that it fits. Fasten it with a rail end band and secure with carriage bolt. Continue for the remainder of the fence.

Step 5 - Attach the Chain Link

It’s now time to unroll the chain link. Unroll the chain link starting at one of the terminal posts. Roll the link along the outside of the fence. Put a tension bar through the first row of the chain link and fasten it to the bands that you put on earlier and attach it with a carriage bolt. Continue to unroll the fence, making sure to take out any slack along the way. Attach the fence to the top rail with fence ties to keep its place.

Once the terminal post connection have been made, fasten the link to the line posts and top rail using fence ties. Connect them every 2 feet on the rail and every 1 foot on the posts.

Step 6 - Hang the Gates

The final job is connecting the swing gates. Attach the hinges along the top and bottom of the gate post and fasten with bolts. Connect the gate to the hinges and tighten the bolts. Open and close the gates to make sure it closes correctly.

You’ve now created a safe and secure environment with a chain link fence.

(For other fencing options, take a look at Fencing 101.)