How Much Does a Chain Link Fence Cost?
Modern chain link fencing is a far cry from the sharp, rusty enclosure many remember from elementary school. Check out the attractive, customizable options chain link offers to your yard: Averaging $2,090 for a standard-size yard, the cost of chain link fence installation may be more budget-friendly than you think.
- Typical Range: $1,159 to $3,022
- National Average: $2,090
Whether you’re looking to contain pets or children, create privacy from passersby, or provide protection around a pool or garden, chain link fencing is one of the most affordable options for enclosing your yard. Far from the plain uncoated spiky metal of years ago, modern chain link fencing can be attractive or nearly invisible, and there are multiple options to customize and add privacy features. Chain link is designed to be durable so it stands up to wind, weather, and impact. Compared to other options for enclosing a yard, chain link fence cost is relatively low, and depending on the space, may even be installed by the homeowner.
There are many variables in the pricing structure of chain link, including height and gauge, linear footage, posts, gates, and additional trims and features. While it is an affordable option, there are a lot of decisions for the homeowner to make that will affect the overall cost.
How to Calculate Chain Link Fence Cost
In order to calculate the cost of chain link, you’ll need to measure and make some choices. The math is pretty straightforward—the decisions may not be!
A chain link fence is made up of several elements. There are two types of fence posts: corner posts are deeply planted in each corner to provide shape and stability. Between the corner posts are line posts, which are thinner than corner posts and add support to the fence at 8- to 10-foot intervals. These posts are connected by a solid top rail sleeve that threads through the top of the side rails and secures at each corner post. The mesh, made of the recognizable diamond-pattern wire twists, is attached to the top rail with wire ties. Finally, the mesh is tensioned using a length of tension wire that connects to a tension bar threaded through the mesh next to the corner post. The size and height of your fence will affect the cost of each of these materials, so measuring carefully and choosing the height you need will help you build an accurate budget.
- Carefully measure the perimeter of the area you would like to enclose. This is the linear footage measurement and the basis of all calculations. It is the amount of mesh and top rail you’ll need to purchase.
- Next, consider how tall the fence needs to be based on your needs and local regulations. Chain link comes in rolls that are 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12 feet high.
- Fence parts are available in a variety of finishes, including bare metal, galvanized metal, vinyl-coated metal, or powder-coated metal, so your choice of finish should be made before you begin pricing.
- Now that you’ve chosen the height and finish, price the mesh and multiply by the number of linear feet you need.
- You’ll need to purchase two kinds of posts: one corner post for each corner, plus line posts that will be installed an average of 8 to 10 feet apart to stabilize the fence. Decide on the material you prefer for the posts (chain link fencing is traditionally supported by metal posts that match the finish of the mesh, but it can also be connected to wood posts for a creative or custom look). Identify how many corner posts you’ll need, then divide the linear footage by 10 to establish the number of line posts, and add that cost to your total.
- Top rails: Add the cost of top rails in your chosen finish of length equal to the linear footage of the fence, plus some extra in case of waste from cuts.
- Will you need a gate to allow access to the space? Gates come in several styles and, like posts, they are offered in varying heights to match the fence. Identify the style and number of gates you prefer, and add that to the overall chain link price.
- Finishing elements: Post caps, privacy options, and necessary hardware come in styles and finishes to match the mesh. Using the number of posts you’ve calculated and the linear footage of the fence, calculate how many and how much of these materials you’ll need and what they will cost in your chosen finish.
- Calculate the costs of permits required by your local government.
- Labor costs: Once you’ve calculated the cost of the materials, consider whether or not you’ll hire a professional to install. The removal of old fencing, preparation of the area, and installation of posts and fencing may be doable by a handy homeowner, but given bulk pricing, specialized tools, and know-how, hiring a professional may be less expensive overall, so get some estimates before making a decision regarding labor costs.
Factors in Calculating Chain Link Fence Cost
Chain link fencing seems like a simple choice—many consumers assume there’s just one style, but that’s not actually true. Variations in height, gauge, finish, and other factors create different levels of security and very distinct appearances. This leaves a lot of room for creativity and cost savings; each decision can be made while balancing appearance, purpose, and budget until all three meet the buyer’s needs.
Height, Length, and Size
While the total linear footage of the area to be enclosed has the greatest effect on total cost, the height and overall size can also affect the cost. Chain link fencing is available in heights from 3 feet to 12 feet, though very tall fences are less common. Taller fencing is more expensive, and custom sizing, where two pieces of chain link are spliced together for a specific height, is even more costly. The size and shape of the fence can also affect the pricing: The price of a large fence can sometimes be reduced based on the bulk pricing of supplies, but custom-shaped fences around a small area can have an unexpectedly high cost because they require more posts and labor.
Gauge or Mesh Thickness
The gauge measurement represents the thickness of the wire that creates the mesh of a chain link fence, and it can be confusing, as the numbers are inverse to the gauge—lower numbers equal thicker wire. Gauge measurements run from 6 gauge, which is the thickest chain link fence available and is usually used for commercial applications, to 11.5 gauge, which is a lighter, thinner wire more suited to residential installations. Thicker gauges are sturdier and stronger, and therefore cost more, while higher gauges offer a lighter, less visible fence and are less expensive.
Much of the appeal of a chain link fence comes from the simple but still decorative diamond-shaped pattern formed by twisted wire. Measured on the inside of the diamond in both diagonal directions, the most common diamond sizes are 1 inch, 2 inch, and 3.5 inch by 5 inch. Smaller diamonds result in stronger fences that are more expensive regardless of the gauge because they require more wire to twist to make the fence. Larger diamonds are less secure, but also less expensive; reducing the mesh size from 2 inches to 1 inch can more than double the price of the mesh. It’s important to check local permit requirements before selecting a diamond size: Some security fence permits demand specific diamond sizes for safety, such as those for fencing that will enclose swimming pools or livestock.
Posts and Concrete
Most commonly, the posts for chain link fencing are also made of metal, though some wood, vinyl, and concrete posts can also be used. The posts themselves must be set at least 2 feet below the ground, and ideally set in concrete for stability. Metal posts can range from $7.25 to $30 each, depending on the height, thickness, type, and gauge of the metal. Adding color increases the cost. Wood posts have a more natural appearance, but they are not as sturdy or long-lasting and range in cost from $10 to $50. The average total cost for posts over the course of an entire project is $3 per linear foot, including the cost of the posts themselves and the concrete needed to set them securely.
Walkway gates may seem like an unnecessary extravagance, but they can be useful when moving materials in and out of the yard, admitting guests, or doing landscaping tasks, such as mowing the lawn. In addition, a well-chosen gate adds great curb appeal to the home. A simple swing gate can cost between $100 and $450 (which includes labor), depending on the height and level of decorative elements, and will also require hardware to latch or lock the gate. A double swing gate permits a larger opening in the fence and can run from $183 to $295.
Enclosing an entire front yard can add a great sense of security, but full-yard enclosures need to allow vehicle access to the driveway. This can sometimes be achieved with a double swing gate, but a single or double rolling gate will be more effective and efficient, and also sturdier. Rolling gates have a wide price range depending on the width and height, but also on the mechanism used to open and close them: Wider gates require more wheels, and a heavy gate may demand a motorized opener. Based on these elements, a driveway gate can range in cost from $800 to $7,600.
Privacy slats are strips of colored material that can be woven through the openings in chain link fencing to provide privacy and add color or style to the fence. Available in plastic or wood, they can be installed at the same time as the fence or added later as a DIY project to save on labor costs. Slats cost about $4 to $50 per box, and if installed by a contractor will likely cost an additional $2 to $4 per linear foot to install. Other privacy options include climbing vine and fabric screens that can be attached to the fence. Handy homeowners who prefer the lower cost of chain link fence but don’t care for the look can even build wood panels to attach to block chain fence from view.
When choosing galvanized or bare metal chain link fencing, a powder coating provides protection from rust and corrosion, increasing the lifespan of the fence and reducing maintenance time and cost. In addition, powder coating adds an attractive textured matte finish that can enhance the curb appeal of the fence. Expect to pay an additional $6 to $8 per linear foot for powder coating.
Powder coating is not a DIY job, but homeowners who want to protect their fences and add color can paint the fence themselves. It’s not a quick, easy, or inexpensive job, however; oil-based primer goes on first, followed by several coats of exterior-grade paint on both sides of the fence. Supplies will run about $55 on average. Having someone else do the work for you will average out to around $7 per linear foot.
Additional Costs and Considerations
So far, the calculation of chain link privacy fence cost has been mostly based on choices made by the homeowner. However, there are additional costs that are outside of the homeowner’s control. The existing state of the yard will govern many of these costs and, while there is some leeway to reduce them by doing the work yourself, others will require professional assistance or be mandated by local regulations.
Old fencing must be fully removed before a new fence can be installed. This will cost, on average, between $3 and $5 per linear foot. This job can be done by a cautious homeowner to save on labor costs, but it’s important to remember that chain link can be heavy and unwieldy. One cost benefit? It’s often possible to find a salvage company that will haul away the materials for free recycling—and maybe even pay you by weight for the scrap! The salvage value may more than cover the cost of removal.
Installation and Labor
National averages for the installation of posts and mesh run between $7 and $15 per linear foot. The range is wide, which means that getting several estimates is key. If you choose to install the fence yourself, the labor costs will be free, unless you need to rent a posthole digger or other specialty tools. Some homeowners choose to hire professionals to set the posts and then install the fence themselves, saving on labor costs.
For a chain link fence to work properly as an enclosure, it must be set in the ground consistently. That means the land must be level and clear of shrubs, trees, and roots. Depending on what’s in the way, this can sharply increase the cost of the project. Landscaping and tree removal costs can be negotiated but can add as much as $5,500 to the cost of the fence, while working around existing structures, such as sheds or trees, can add between $2 and $5 per linear foot. Grading a sloped yard to level will add between $5 and $10 per square foot.
Chain link fencing is essentially metal strapped to other metal, so in addition to the mesh, top rail, and posts, you’ll need materials to attach them together. Every two lengths of top rail that need to be joined will require one top rail sleeve. For each post, purchase one loop cap to secure the top rail and one post cap. Each corner post requires a tension bar, a rail end, a brace band, and a carriage bolt to secure the rails to the post and stretch the mesh. Gates will also require a tension bar. A length of tension wire equal to the linear footage is necessary to stretch the bottom of the mesh. Finally, purchase one fence tie per linear foot to attach the mesh to the top rail, and select hardware to close and lock the gate. The cost of this hardware doesn’t vary much by style, but will increase with the total linear footage of the fence.
Some municipalities require permits for fences to ensure that they meet the ordinances and codes of the areas. Permits will dictate a number of factors in the chain link fence’s installation, including how close the fence is to the property line, how tall the fence is (this can be different in the front and back yard), and how deep the posts must be set. This is not an occasion to try to squeak by without getting a permit: The cost of removing a fence installed three inches too close to the property line will be enormous, and then you’ll have to decide whether or not to reinstall.
Chain Link Fence Type Costs
Chain link fencing is efficient and economical, but there are a number of options when it comes to purpose and appearance. The type of mesh is usually chosen based on your planned application, style of your home, and location, as some climates really require a protective coating on the metal. Consider these choices when planning your project.
Galvanized chain link fencing has been treated to resist rust and corrosion. It’s durable, strong, and somewhat utilitarian in appearance, and it’s the standard for commercial applications. This style costs between $5 and $15 per linear foot, depending on height.
Cyclone or Hurricane
This style of chain link fence has a PVC mesh coating over the metal to protect the fencing from salt water corrosion, and it’s often used in coastal areas that flood frequently to extend the life of the fence and allow water to flow freely through without damage. Cyclone fencing costs between $8 and $40 per linear foot depending on gauge and height.
Vinyl-Covered Chain Link
Vinyl-covered chain link fencing, usually available in black and green (and occasionally in other colors), can add an elegant appearance to the fencing and protect the metal from corrosion. The vinyl adds significantly to the cost, ringing up at between $13 and $40 per linear foot, but it reduces the time and cost of maintenance.
Wood or Metal With Mesh
There’s no law that says you have to stick to metal posts for your chain link fence. Other materials such as wood posts (which can look beautifully rustic with black chain link) or other metals such as wrought iron, steel, or aluminum can combine with chain link for unique and artistic installations. These will come at a cost, however: Pricing will vary based on the materials and what you choose to do with them, but they can add as much as $100 per linear foot.
Do I Need a Chain Link Fence?
Regardless of whether you’re considering fencing for a commercial enclosure, protection of HVAC equipment, or to enclose your yard, chain link is a practical choice with numerous options for customization at a comparably economical cost. There are, however, a number of specific benefits to this style of fence that may not be as obvious.
Increased Home Value
For some home buyers, security is everything, and a well-maintained, attractive chain link fence provides what they need and exponentially increases the value of the home. Others, especially buyers with young children or pets, may be more interested in efficiently keeping residents inside the fence: Chain link is considered the best type of fence for containing pets, and it provides a layer of security for children playing outdoors. In a home with a pool, a fence enclosing the pool provides extra security against accidents for which the homeowner would be liable. The relief of knowing that fence installation won’t be one of their first tasks as a homeowner can increase the value for these buyers in any area.
A chain link fence isn’t easy for humans to climb. It presents a visual challenge that is often enough to discourage intruders from even attempting to gain access, and if tall enough will prevent them from gaining access if they do try, protecting your home and belongings.
Low Maintenance and Easy Repair
Treated or coated to resist rust and corrosion, most chain link fences require nothing more than an occasional spray wash. Even when rust does appear, a quick hit with a wire brush and some sealant will take care of the problem. All the connections and joints are visible, so if damage does occur, it’s simple to reconnect the mesh to the posts or rails—or even replace a piece of mesh seamlessly without removing the rest. The biggest maintenance task will likely be removing vines that try to climb the links.
Improved and Customized Appearance
There are many stylistic and functional choices available when selecting chain link fencing. The precise combination of mesh and post materials, gauge, diamond size, and privacy elements, along with the style of gates and post caps, means that your fence will be uniquely customized to your specifications.
Chain link installation is not complicated. If homeowners have the know-how and the yard is reasonably level, it can be a DIY project. When hiring professionals, it’s a quick job: Once the landscaping is clear, most crews will need a day to set the posts and another day or two to hang the fence. For those on a tight budget and tight timeline, chain link is an ideal option.
Even basic galvanized chain link can stand up well to the elements. Because of the open weave of the mesh, a chain link fence will not catch the wind as a solid fence will, so it is suitable for high wind conditions. Water can pass smoothly through the mesh without damaging the fence, making chain link ideal for locations where flooding is frequent. A properly installed chain link fence can hold up for more than 25 years, even in locations where the weather tests it on a regular basis.
Chain Link Fence Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Of all of the fencing options available to homeowners, chain link fencing is the most appropriate for the DIY-inclined. There is little need for ultra-accurate measurement or special skills: Once a homeowner has appropriately researched the process and the options and acquired the materials, it’s a matter of digging and setting the posts, installing and tensioning the top rails, then stretching and tying on the mesh and any privacy elements. Things to bear in mind, however, include the specialty tools that make the job manageable—those digging in rocky or dense clay soil will benefit from a gas-powered posthole auger, which incurs a rental cost, and wire cutters, pipe cutters, and fence stretchers will add to the DIY cost if the homeowner doesn’t already own them. Mixing the concrete to set the poles can be difficult for those who don’t have experience with assessing the consistency of concrete. Finally, the weight and unwieldy nature of rolls of wire fencing can be more than some homeowners can handle.
A professional crew can have a chain link fence up in just a few days with minimal fuss: These teams already own the tools and have the expertise to work around unanticipated obstacles such as uneven ground, obstinate tree roots, and tangled fencing. They aren’t likely to struggle with setting fence posts at the exact level, slicing themselves on exposed wire, or fighting with a tension strap that won’t hold. The discount that contractors get on materials, plus the savings on delivery, tool rental, and time, may make hiring a professional financially worthwhile.
Don’t be afraid to call in a professional if you plan to DIY and find yourself in over your head. Many contractors will be happy to fit your job in and take over where you left off. You can search for “fence installation near me” to find a professional to work with.
How to Save Money on Chain Link Fence Costs
Compared to other types of fences, chain link is considered the most economical. That said, there are several things you can do to reduce the overall costs.
- Design the fence to include as few corners as possible. Each corner requires a post and additional hardware, so fewer corners equals savings on material costs.
- Depending on the consistency of the soil, consider pounding in the line posts instead of setting them in concrete. The corner and gate posts will always require concrete, but in good soil, you can save on the concrete costs by pounding the midline posts into the ground instead of setting them.
- Choose a shorter fence where you can. The posts, rods, and mesh all get less expensive as the height is reduced. You can even use different heights of fencing in different parts of your property.
- Consider a lighter gauge or larger diamond pattern.
- Check with neighbors to see if anyone else is thinking about fence installation. Bundling the jobs may allow you to negotiate with a contractor for a lower labor cost for everyone. Alternatively, splitting the cost of a fencing job with your neighbor, if they agree, can help you save.
- Think about what you can do yourself. Removal of old fencing, installation of posts, addition of privacy slats—even if you choose to hire a pro to complete the bulk of the installation, you can save on labor time by handling the parts of the job that you can manage on your own.
Questions to Ask About Chain Link Fence Costs
Installation of chain link fencing is a fairly clear process, but as always, when hiring a contractor to work on your property you need to make sure you know what you’re asking for and what conditions are in place. Don’t be afraid to ask for documentation or to see samples. Because chain link fencing cost varies so much based on height and materials, it’s important to get several estimates. Some contractors may only work with a limited set of materials, and if you’re looking for something different, you shouldn’t settle for the materials any one professional has on offer. Some questions you should have answers to include:
- Are you insured and licensed to do this installation?
- If there is landscaping work to be done, will you handle hiring the subcontractor to level the ground or remove obstacles, or is that my responsibility? Will I have a say in who you hire?
- What challenges do you see in my yard? How will we plan to address these?
- Who will handle acquiring the permits and utility calls?
- Can I see other work that you’ve done with chain link? What suggestions do you have for how I could customize my fence?
- How much of a deposit do you require up front? When is the balance due?
- What is my recourse if I am not happy with the finished product?
- Do you provide a warranty on the installation or guarantee performance for a period of time?
After all these considerations, you may be overwhelmed. Here are a few questions that homeowners often have when considering their fencing and their answers, which should make the decision a little easier.
Q. Is chain link cheaper than wood?
On average, yes. Of course, it depends on the options you select: A tall, heavy-gauge chain link fence will be more expensive than a shorter, simple wood fence. But when comparing size and quality, chain link fence is $5 to $15 less per linear square foot than wood.
Q. What is the cheapest fence to install?
A chain link fence installed by the homeowner is the least expensive option for a complete enclosure.
Q. How do I maintain a chain link fence?
A chain link fence is largely maintenance-free. You may want to wash it with hose spray from time to time and can add soap if it’s particularly dirty, but chain link will mostly maintain itself. Keep an eye out for damage or sagging, as an easy and inexpensive repair can be done if the issue is handled promptly. If you have chosen to paint the fence, maintenance will include repainting every few years or when the paint begins to show wear.
Q. How tall should a chain link fence be?
This depends on the purpose of the fence. Heights are usually limited by local ordinance. If the fence is enclosing a swimming pool, state and local government will likely have a requirement. Basic security and pet enclosure will require a 4-foot fence, while large pets or additional privacy might make a 6-foot fence more appropriate (dogs are surprisingly adept at climbing fences, so consider the full-grown size of any young dogs in your household when choosing a height).