Metal Fencing Materials


For thousands of years, humans have used barriers to protect their properties and pen livestock. Today, metal fencing serves as the material of choice for performing such tasks, and modern metal fencing offers many variations.


  • In 1874, Joseph Glidden introduced barbed wire at a county fair in Dekalb, Ill., and it quickly became a popular material for fencing in cattle and other livestock. Chain link fencing was invented in 1844 by Charles Barnard. Anchor Fence was the first U.S. company to manufacture chain link fencing.


  • Metal fencing serves one primary function. It encloses areas. The enclosed space provides greater security against outside interference. Fences also keep pets in yards and serve as visual barriers. Along with a functional purpose, metal fencing often provides an aesthetic appeal.


  • Metal fencing comes in many forms. Aluminum and wrought iron are ornamental fence materials. They provide some aesthetic benefits and serve as barriers, as well. Chain link, wire and wire mesh are designed primarily for function. Chain link, by far, rates as the most common metal fence material. Wire and wire mesh fences generally are considered temporary fencing. Barbed wire is a common type of wire fencing.


  • Four material components make up chain link fencing. The fabric is the diamond-shaped steel wire of the fence. The framework portion, which includes posts and cross supports, provide the structure of chain link fencing. Fittings hold the fabric to the posts and crossbars, and gates provide entrance points into the enclosed areas. Most chain link fencing is coated with zinc or aluminum, which protects against rust. Chain link is sometimes coated in colored PVC, too.


  • The height and thickness of metal fencing materials are important factors to consider when purchasing metal fencing. Some fences need to be tall to provide a maximum visual and physical barrier. Most chain link fencing falls within a 4- to 20-foot-high range. Heavy gauge fencing is designed for long-term utility. Lighter gauge fencing, such as mesh wire, is designed as a temporary barrier. Gauge also applies to the framework, which can feature thin or thick metal posts and cross supports. Most chain link fencing comes in 50-foot rolls. Posts are set in the ground every 10 feet.


  • The cost of metal fencing material is a key factor in which type of fencing a property owner buys. Wire fencing is inexpensive. Chain link fencing is slightly more expensive. Ornamental fencing is the most expensive. Aluminum fencing is generally less costly than wrought iron fencing. Aluminum, though, also is less durable.


  • The durability and strength of metal fencing makes it more beneficial than wood fencing, which is more susceptible to damage and warping. A well-built metal fence can last for decades.

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  • Photo Credit Chrispolicastro/Wikimedia Commons
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