The Complete Guide to Chain Link Fence Parts
If you’re not in the fence business, you probably don’t have any idea how to build a fence. That includes chain link fence, even though it’s one of the most common fence types out there.
That’s exactly why we have created this guide to chain link fence parts, which not only names each part but also provides information about what they are for, and how many you can expect to use on your fence job.
Pictured Chain Link Fence Parts
Let’s start our deep dive into chain link fence parts with the sketch included in this article, which is of a typical residential-style North American chain link fence. These are the numbered parts that are pictured here.
1. Terminal Post Dome Cap
A terminal post dome cap, also known as simply a dome cap, is a cap that is designed to fit over terminal and gate posts. Its inside diameter is slightly larger than the outside diameter of the post, and its primary function is both esthetics and to keep water and snow out of posts, to prevent rusting or splitting when water freezes.
You will require one dome cap per terminal post and gate post, and you may need different size dome caps if you have different size posts.
2. Rail End
Rail ends are cup-shaped chain link fence parts with a flat connector that has a hole in it. The rail end itself fits over the end of your top rail, and then the connector is bolted to a brace band.
This fitting combination allows you to connect top rails and horizontal braces to terminal and gate posts.
There are different size rail ends to fit different top rail sizes, and they are available in galvanized steel and aluminum, and powder coated to match chain link fence colors.
You will need one rail end per horizontal rail, per direction of fence at each tension post. So, if you have an end post with only a top rail, you will have one rail end. If you had a corner post with only a top rail, you would have two, and so on.
3. Brace Band
brace bands are chain link fence fittings that are designed to strap your rail end assembly to a tension or gate post.
brace bands are made from thin steel and have predrilled holes that are lined up with the hole in the rail end and bolted in place, usually with a carriage bolt.
You will need one brace band for each rail end on your fence.
4. Tension Band
Tension bands look similar to brace bands, but they have a longer straight section with a hole drilled in it. They are used to catch and hold tension bars in place and are used on tension or terminal and gate posts.
These chain link fence fittings are manufactured to fit various post diameters, and they are installed roughly a foot apart on each post, in each direction of strain. The easiest way to calculate this is to deduct one from the height of the fence in feet. But remember that you need to have that number of tension bands for each direction of fence.
So, an end post would have that number, but a corner post would have double, and a t-intersection would have three times.
You will also need the same number of carriage bolts for each tension band.
5. Line Post Top
Line post tops are also called eye tops. They are a cap that fits over the top of your intermediate or line posts and has a built-in loop for the top rail to pass through. This helps to ensure that the fence line is secure and that the mesh can be hung from the top rail, because it’s supported at each line post.
Line post tops can be made of steel or aluminum and are available in various colors to match color chain link fences. You will need one line post top per line post.
6. Fence Tie
There are actually two kinds of fence tie. These chain link fence parts are simply pre-bent pieces of wire that are used to tie mesh to line posts, and to your top rail and any bracing rails etc.
You normally need about one fence tie per foot of fence that you’re tying, but buy extra because they can be very hard to find if they fall into grass or garden beds!
7. Gate Frame Hinge
A gate frame hinge is the part of a residential gate hinge that bolts onto the gate frame itself. You will need two of these per leaf of your gate. So, if you have a single gate, you will use two, but if you have a double gate, you will use four.
If you are building a higher security, heavier-duty chain link fence, you would probably use a different type of fitting, which is often a lug welded directly to the frame of the gate. These are usually used with J bolts, which allows for some adjustments on-site.
8. Gate Post Hinge
A gate post hinge is the other side of the gate hinge assembly on residential chain link gates. They also bolt in place.
If you’re building a larger, heavier gate, and choosing J bolt hinges instead of gate frame hinges, you might need to upgrade this to a gate post collar.
9. Fork Latch
A fork latch is a lockable latch that is commonly used on residential chain link gates. It is made up of two parts, one of which is a collar that bolts onto the gate frame. The other part is hinged to the gate collar with a pin and is large enough to fit around the gate post.
There is a hole in the bottom of both parts so that when they are closed, they can be padlocked.
If you are installing a higher security gate, using self-closing hinges or plan to automate your gate, you will need to use a different type of gate latch.
10. Terminal Post
Terminal posts, also called tension posts, end posts, and corner posts, are larger diameter round tube posts that are used at the end of each fence line. They are fitted with tensioning equipment, including tension bands and tension bars, and they are where your top rails will terminate with a rail end and brace band assembly.
Terminal posts are not only larger than line posts, but they are usually also installed in larger concrete footings and installed a little deeper since they will be carrying more of the tension and weight from your chain link fence.
Sometimes, gate posts and terminal posts are the same sizes, particularly when you have a residential fence. However, if you have a very large gate, your gate posts might need to be larger than your fence posts, which also means you will have to have different size fittings.
11. Tension Bar
Tension bars are flat strips of metal that pass through the last wire on your chain link mesh and are used to tension the mesh to your terminal posts. They are about the same height as your fence fabric, and you need one tension bar per post per direction of strain. So again, you will have one on an end post, two on a corner post, three on a t-intersection and so on.
Tension bars come in different sizes and thicknesses for different kinds of fences, and they are available in galvanized or color-coated options to suit color-coated chain link fences.
12. Top Rail
Top rails are steel pipes that are used as the top rail of a chain link fence. They attach to terminal posts with brace band and rail end assemblies and pass-through line post tops.
Residential chain link fence top rails usually have swedged ends, which means that the end of one is a little smaller than the beginning of the next one, which allows them to fit into each other. Commercial and industrial chain link fences usually use top rail sleeves, which is, as the name suggests, a sleeve for joining two pieces of top rail.
If your chain link fence parts list includes mid rails or bottom rails or bracing at the corners and ends, you will use the same diameter and type of pipe for those components too.
13. Line Post
Chain link fence line posts are smaller diameter pipe than terminal and gate posts, and they are installed roughly every 10 feet along each fence line.
They’re usually a little shorter than terminal posts too, and they usually have smaller concrete bases.
14. Bottom wire
The bottom of chain link mesh has a little stretch, which makes this a weak point for any chain link fence. The solution to keep a chain link fence secure at the bottom is to install a bottom wire, which is usually thicker than the mesh you are installing, so that it’s quite strong and rigid. This helps to keep the fence fabric taught and helps to prevent access under your fence fabric.
15. Hog Ring
Hog rings are small, pre bent metal rings that are used to clip the bottom of your chain link mesh to your bottom wire, using a special tool called a hog ring pliers.
They can be made of steel or aluminum and are available in various colors to match your chain link fence color.
Other Chain Link Fence Parts
So far, we’ve looked at the most commonly used parts of a chain link fence, but there are many other chain link parts that might be required for your fence, depending on the type of fence and the installation conditions. These include:
- barb arms, which are used to install barbed wire above a chain link fence
- barbed wire, often installed above chain link fences for added security
- Brace rails, which are sections of top rail that are attached to terminal posts and the adjacent line post for added stability
- Mid rails and bottom rails – some chain link fences need extra support and rigidity, whether for security, or in the case of ball diamonds, for instance, to stop balls on sports fields and similar
- Self closing hinges, which are often used on gates that need a little extra security
- Slam lock latches, which are also used on higher security gates
- Gate wheels, used to carry extra weight of large gates and gate leaves
- Privacy slats that are threaded into chain link fabric to add privacy
- Base plates, used to install chain link fence on concrete slabs or beams
These are just some of the chain link parts that are available out there. If you aren’t entirely sure about what chain link parts you need, look for a supplier who has an estimating service, and who can provide you with a parts list for your job, based on a site visit or a site layout sketch.
It’s always a good idea to buy a little extra material too. Both in case you lose a part or two, and in case you ever need to repair or replace something on your fence. Although most suppliers have the same kinds of fittings and the same basic sizes, it’s always easier if you have a few that you know will fit!