How to Build a Chain Link Fence

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's level
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Pipe cutter or circular saw (with metal cutting blade)
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Post hole digger
  • Fence stretcher
Materials Required
  • Fence posts, rails, connectors, mesh
  • Ready-mixed cement
  • String and stakes
  • Wheelbarrow

Before You Begin

Before you begin any fencing project, check the survey of your property to know exactly where the property line begins and ends. Ask your local building department about fence height requirements specified in zoning laws or subdivision covenants. Find out the depth requirement for post holes which is determined by the local weather and soil conditions. Call your local utility company to locate and mark any buried power lines. This is a free service that prevents you from digging up a buried cable or possibly causing an injury.

The steps that follow give you an overview of how a chain link fence is installed. Ask for specific directions when you buy the fencing materials. Read them carefully before you begin so you understand the nuances of assembling all the components and weaving the mesh fencing material onto the posts.

Not sure you want to do this job yourself? To find a fence contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right, click here to Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local contractors.

  • Step 1 : Lay out the fence

    Use string and stakes to locate the fence line. To prevent encroaching on a neighbor's property, plan to set any corners, end or terminal posts 4-inches inside the line to allow for concrete footings. Plan to set fence posts between 7 to 10 feet apart. If a gate is planned, the post spacing should be the exact size of the gate.
  • Step 2 : Set the end, corner and gate posts

    Set the end, corner and gate posts Dig holes to the appropriate depth for the posts, usually about 6-inches in diameter, to about 3-feet deep or below the frost line. The terminal posts should be the height of the fence plus 1-inch. (A) Determine the "ground level" for each post by measuring down from the top of the post, based on this calculation. Use a marker or chalk to mark the post; this is the ground level of the posts. When setting the post, make sure that it is not set deeper into the ground that this mark. If in doubt, set the post a bit high. You can always cut it off later, but you can't make the post longer if it is too low. Mix the ready-mixed cement so it's the consistency of thick mud. Have someone hold the post in the hole while you fill the hole with cement. Check the post for its correct height and be sure it is centered in the hole. Use a carpenter's level to assure that they are all level.

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