By: Alicia Schnell

            Are you ready to learn a little fence lingo? When you purchase materials at Fence Specialists, we will ask which gauge of chain link you want and whether you are interested in PF 10, 20, 40 or Schedule 40 posts. For the seasoned installer, this terminology is a no-brainer. For those of you who are new to fencing, the terms might be a little confusing. So, let’s break it down for you newcomers!

            When we measure chain link “fabric” or “mesh,” we use gauge. The term “gauge” (ga) is a centuries old measure of thickness. Generally speaking, there are 3 different gauges for galvanized chain link available at our shop: 11ga, 9ga, and 6ga. One of the strangest and most important things to know about chain link gauges is the higher the gauge number, the thinner your wire will be. Why is that the case? The Cliffnotes version is as follows: back when they were trying to figure out how to define thickness under a universal scale, methods to measure and develop wire were evolving. As label-makers measured the thickness of early wire, they put the gauges down on paper numerically. As wire thickness shrunk with better technology, the numbers on the list continued up even as the size went down resulting in our gauges today.

            Black chain link has the same increase in gauge/smaller wire thickness concept with a slight twist. Colored chain link is created by vinyl or powder coating the color onto the galvanized wire creating dual gauges. For example, one of our gauges is 12ga core/9ga finish. This means that the wire itself is 12ga, but once the coating is added, the wire thickness is equal to 9ga. Savvy? Chain link also comes in a handful of diamond sizes: 1 inch, 1 ¼ inch, and 2 inch. 2 inch mesh is the typical size on most properties. However, if customers want a “mini” mesh they can put up around sport courts and the like, the smaller sizes are what we will direct you to. They come in the same gauge options listed above though, so if you are looking for thinner wire, you will have to go to a feed and farm store. How we measure mesh is by the adjacent corner width, not across the diamond (see picture right).

            Posts have a different scale system. Our fence pipe is measured as O.D., or “Outside Diameter,” which is different from every other pipe industry that uses Inside Diameter. To start, the pipe comes in a variety of widths: 1 3/8, 1 5/8, 1 7/8, 2 3/8, 2 7/8, 3 ½, 4, 5, 6 5/8, and 8 5/8 inches. Second, there are two types of pipe you can get: PF and Schedule. The difference between the two relates to the technical method used to make the pipe. Third, you can purchase either10, 20, or 40 pipe, which pertains to the wall thickness. In Schedule, 40 is the only available wall thickness at our company. We call 10: Residential, 20: Light Commercial, and 40: Heavy Commercial. Unlike chain link, as the number on the pipe increases, so does the wall thickness. For example, a 2 3/8 inch wide post in PF 10 has a wall thickness of .065 inch while the same width in PF 20 has a wall thickness of .100 inch. The picture below showcases three different pipe widths and wall thicknesses. The galvanized, or silver-colored, pipe is 1 7/8 inch wide PF 10. The orange coated pipe is 2 3/8 inch PF 20. The yellow coated pipe is 4 inch wide PF 40.

            There is a lot that goes into building a chain link fence and, hopefully, you feel more confident with the terminology now. Just remember, chain link gauges increase as the wire becomes thinner, wire diamond size is measured by adjacent corners rather than opposing corners, and there are three post thicknesses: 10, 20, and 40. If you’re still feeling a little confused, no worries! Stop by our shop on Golden Given in Tacoma and we can show you the many different sizes we stock in the yard.