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Install a Chain-Link Fence

If you need a budget-friendly fence option, a chain-link fence is ideal. Here’s how to install one.

Preparing for a Chain-link Fence

Mark property line.
  • Check all local building codes and homeowner’s association guidelines for acceptable fence styles, size and placement. Codes may also specify post hole requirements. If you’re still not sure if a chain-link fence is the right choice, watch Need to Know? Choosing a Fence for more options and check out our Fence Materials Guide. Lowe’s also offers a how-to for installing a wood fence.
  • Determine if a permit is necessary.
  • Make sure you know and mark your property lines and talk with your neighbors about the project.
  • Use graph paper to draw a plan for your fence. Note the post locations and gate locations. Some towns might require this plan for an approved building permit.
  • Installing a fence is, at least, a two-person job. Enlist a helper before beginning.
  • Fence materials are heavy and bulky. Consider renting a truck to transport your materials or having them delivered to your home.

Before beginning any excavation, call 811 to check for underground utilities.

Mark the Fence Layout

Step 1

Batter boards.

Mark the layout using string and batter boards. Place the batter boards just beyond where your fence corners will be located and tie the string to them. Batter boards allow you to easily adjust the string to mark the layout, as opposed to using a single stake. Stakes are best where space is limited, like near the house. How Do I Make and Use Batter Boards?

Step 2

Measure corners.

To square the corners, measure three feet along one string and four feet along the adjacent string. The diagonal between should be five feet. If not, adjust the strings.

Step 3

Measure fence post spacing.

Mark the posts and spacing with stakes. Typical spacing is between 6 and 10 feet on center. Check the manufacturer’s directions for post spacing. Mark the holes about half the width of the post away from the layout lines. Then, mark your lines on the batter boards with a pencil and untie them to dig the holes.

Dig the Post Holes

Check local code for post hole size. Typically, the hole diameter should be about three times the width of the post. Some codes might require the depth to be below the frost line — the level at which water in the soil typically freezes — to help prevent the ground from pushing up the posts (known as heave) during a freeze. Note that the frost line varies by region.

Step 1

Mark the layout string locations on the batter boards and remove the strings.

Step 2

Drill post holes.

Dig the holes to size. Holes for terminal posts (end, gate and corner posts) should typically be a little bit wider and deeper than line posts (the posts in between terminal posts).

  • For holes next to the house, use a shovel, post hole digger and digging bar.
  • In open areas, consider using a power auger to save time and effort. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and watch our video How to Use a Power Auger for tips.
Good to Know

Clear away the dirt you removed with a shovel and rake – letting the extra dirt sit on the lawn for a day or two will kill the grass. However, save a little bit of dirt to top off the posts after they are set in concrete.

Step 3

Reattach your layout lines to the batter boards.

Install the Posts

Step 1

Mark post height.

To set your posts at the correct height, it’s helpful to mark the ground line on them before setting them in the holes. Set the terminal posts first. They’ll be the height of the chain-link fabric plus two inches. The line posts will be the height of the fabric minus two inches.

Step 2

Mark fence post top.

To ensure the height of the line posts is uniform, tie a string between terminal posts at the correct height of the line posts. This technique is helpful when working on slopes.

Step 3

Set posts in concrete.

Add concrete mix to the post holes. You can choose between regular-set and fast-set options. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing.

  • If using regular-set concrete, mix it to the consistency of thick cake batter. Fill around each post. Leave the concrete a few inches below ground level. Slope it away from the post to help with water runoff.
  • If using fast-set concrete, pour the dry mix around each post to a few inches below ground level and add water. Initially the water will sit on top, but eventually will work its way to the bottom. Use a stake to mix it if needed, but don't overwork it.
Good to Know

Regular-set concrete mix takes a little longer to cure, but is less expensive than fast-setting mix and allows time for adjustments. Fast-set concrete mix cures quickly so you'll have to make sure your posts are set in the right place before mixing.

Step 4

Check fence posts for plumb.

Use a post level to make sure each post is plumb, then hold it in place with braces.

Step 5

Let the concrete cure. After it has cured, remove the braces and fill in the rest of the hole with dirt.

Good to Know

Setting all of the posts may take a couple of days.

Install the Post Hardware

When installing the hardware, leave it loose at first. You’ll tighten the nuts and bolts after the fabric is installed.

Step 1

Upper post hardware.

At each terminal post, slip on an end brace band and tension bands with the flat side to the outside. Slide on another end brace band with an end cup, then add the post cap.

Step 2

Corner post hardware.

For corner posts, add tension bands for each direction, and alternate the cups of the brace bands with one up and one down. Offsetting the cups will keep the top rails in line.

Install the Fence Rails

Step 1

Offset loop.

On the line posts, add the offset loop post tops with the offset toward the outside.

Step 2

Tighten tension wire.

Add tension wire along the bottom about 2 inches from the ground and on the same side of the fabric.

Hang the Fence Fabric

Step 1

Insert tension bar into fence fabric.

Unroll the fabric on the ground and slide a tension bar through the first row of diamonds.

Step 2

Secure tension band.

Secure the tension bar to the terminal post with the tension bands and carriage bolts.

Step 3

Remove fence fabric strand.

The fabric should extend just past your end post. To remove any excess fabric at the end, open the loops at the top and bottom of a fabric strand, then twist it out.

Step 4

Tighten fence fabric with come-along winch.

Attach the fabric to the end post. Insert a tension bar about 3 feet from the end of the fabric. Add a temporary tension band to the terminal pole and hook a come-along to it. Hook a stretcher bar to the tension bar, attach the come-along and tighten the fabric. The fabric is tight enough when you can squeeze the diamonds just a little bit.

Step 5

Secure fence fabric with bolts.

Pull the rest of the fabric to the terminal post and insert a tension bar through the fabric and tension bands on the post. Tighten the bolts. Remove the come-along and temporary bar.

Step 6

Add fence ties to fabric.

Attach the fabric to the posts with fence ties about every 12 inches, and along the top rail every 24 inches. Along the bottom, secure the fence to the tension wire with wire clips.

Attach the Gate

Step 1

Attach gate hinges to the posts.

Attach the gate hinges to the posts about 8 inches from the top and bottom. The top pin should face down and the bottom pin up.

Step 2

Attach frame hinges.

Loosely attach the frame hinges to the gate.

Step 3

Set gate above ground with blocks.

Use blocks on the ground to set the gate about 2 inches above ground. Adjust the frame hinges to fit on the post hinges and tighten.

Step 4

Install gate latch.

Attach the latch at a comfortable height on the gate and secure with nuts and bolts.