Chain link fences often get the bad reputation of being unattractive, prone to deterioration, and lacking in privacy. But the truth is, these limitations can all be addressed and minimized. Chain link fencing might not be as fancy as a hardwood or wrought iron one, but it can look great, last for years, and even offer you some privacy.
If you're picturing the plain steel, rusty chain link fences of yesteryear, you're behind the times. Though these lower-end fences are still available, you can get a much more attractive chain link fence made from galvanized steel or even vinyl-coated metal for just a little more money. Vinyl-coated fences come in black, white, and sometimes other brighter colors, so you can customize your look to suit your tastes. Expect to pay about $8–$15 per linear foot for a 6-foot-tall galvanized or vinyl-coated steel fence or $3–$6 per foot for a 4-foot-tall fence of either type.
There are also several ways to decorate your fence and make it more attractive. Wind thick, colored wire around the top rail to add an artistic touch. Plant a short hedge row along the base of the fence to call attention to the natural landscaping rather than the unnatural fence.
Luckily, the galvanized steel and vinyl-coated steel used to make better-quality chain link fences are not only more attractive than the plain steel used years ago, they are also more durable. Both of these materials are resistant to rusting. As long as you choose galvanized steel or vinyl-coated steel, you can expect your fence to last between 15 and 20 years. You can also ensure your fence lasts as long as possible by choosing a lower gauge. The lower the gauge, the thicker the metal. For example, a 9-gauge fence is thicker and will last longer than an 11-gauge one.
Maintaining and protecting your fence properly will also keep it strong and in good shape:
- Avoid spraying the fence when you're watering your yard or garden. (Use drip irrigation or aim to the ground, not the fence, when spraying.)
- Be very careful not to "ding" the fence when you're trimming beneath it. (Use a lower-powered weed whacker when possible.)
- Don't put plants so close to the fence that they grow into it or touch it. (Plants touching the fence will expose it constantly to moisture, perpetuating corrosion and rust.)
- Rub off any rust that does appear with steel wool before it has a chance to spread. (This only applies if your fence is not vinyl coated.)
It's true that you and your neighbors can see through a chain link fence. However, there's a way to change this. A product known as "privacy slats" can be inserted through the links. These are thin strips of vinyl or plastic. Once they are in place, the view through the fence is blocked. Installing privacy slats is a simple process that you and a helper can tackle in an afternoon or two, depending on the size of your fence. The slats should last for the life of your fence since they're made from rot-proof, durable materials. They even come in a range of colors, so you can choose a look that suits your preferences.
Chain link fences do have their limitations, but if you're on a budget, a chain link fence can still be a great option provided you use the tips above to deal with those limitations. To learn more about the aforementioned facts and your other fencing options, speak with a fencing contractor in your area. He or she can assist you in your choice of fencing material to fit your budget and needs.