Chain link fence is one of the most effective, economical, permanent fencing barriers on the market today and is the number one selling fence system in the world. This paper analyzes and proposes regulations for the use of chain link fence in residential neighborhoods that balance the needs of the homeowner, aesthetic concerns and value.

Today’s chain link fence, now available in high quality metallic-coated and a multitude of colors, is manufactured using better processes and controls to assure quality, durability and consumer satisfaction. Quality chain link fence uses rust resistant metallic coatings on steel wire to provide a strong, lasting fence system which protects property and controls children and pets.

Too often, neighborhood covenants and zoning regulations prohibit its use without a thorough understanding of new chain link innovations or its true value. In this report, all the issues surrounding the use and regulation of today’s chain link are analyzed, including:


  • Aesthetic Appeal – explains recent product innovations, design options and accessories that allow today’s chain link fence to provide improved safety and security in any neighborhood. Today, there are New colors, styles and designs available today as well as traditional, high quality metallic-coated chain link fence at a very reasonable cost.
  • Composite Fence Strategies – gives homeowners the option to combine quality chain link fence with other fence products to save money for the homeowner by using a more affordable mixture of fence materials to provide needed security while maintaining community aesthetic standards.
  • Quality Standards – illustrates the minimum American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for residential chain link fence, defines those standards for use in regulating residential chain link fence and explains warranties that are available.
  • Cost Comparisons – contrasts the cost of quality chain link materials to alternative fence systems which can increase a homeowner’s cost for a fence by three fold or more.
  • Homeowner Motivations – explains why homeowners need and buy fence using research conducted for the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute (CLFMI).
  • Proposed Regulations – balances the aesthetic appeal of today’s chain link fence, value and economy, and the needs of homeowners in fence regulations. This can be accomplished through two different approaches when regulating the use of chain link fence.


The proposed model regulations balance the aesthetic goals of a development with the homeowners’ practical need for fencing and the economics of purchasing and installing an effective, long-lasting fence system.

Due to a lack of information about today’s chain link fence, neighborhood associations, developers, and in some cases, government regulators are restricting the use of chain link fence in residential areas without considering its benefits. chain link fence has improved both its aesthetic appeal and product quality in recent years through innovation and standardization of manufacturing processes.

Today’s chain link fence offers consumers and neighborhoods more colors, better quality and attractive styles that fit into any neighborhood while giving consumers dependable, long-lasting protection. The world’s most widely used fence, chain link remains the most economical means to protect children, control pets and safeguard property in both suburban and urban areas. From the traditional chain link fence most of us grew up with to today’s designer colors, chain link remains a high quality, long lasting, dependable fence system.

The homeowners’ needs to enclose and protect their property and discourage trespassers in a neighborhood must be balanced with the aesthetic standards set by an association or regulatory authority. chain link fence is the most effective, economical, permanent fencing barrier on the market today and is the number one selling fence system in the world. Research conducted by the American Fence Association concluded that approximately 61 percent of all fences installed in the United States are chain link.

The Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute (CLFMI) recommends future homeowner association regulations consider the recent improvements in style, design and quality standards of today’s chain link fence when regulating the use of fence.


This report proposes specific options for regulating the use of chain link fence in residential communities. The first proposed regulation requires color-coated fence using the highest quality residential chain link materials to ensure a long life for the fence. The second introduces composite fence strategies that restrict the use of chain link fence in the parts of the yard exposed to public streets, while encouraging its use around larger back yards where pets and children are generally at play.

The composite fence strategy allows homeowners to reduce the cost of fencing and choose a fully warranted, long lasting, low maintenance fence. Both proposed regulations include recommended quality standards for materials and warranty information.

In addition, this report addresses the aesthetic enhancements available in today’s chain link fence – more colors, more styles, more variety – and analyzes cost comparisons and design options for consumers, homeowner associations and regulatory authorities.


Today’s chain link fence can be designed to create a stately image for a home or to disappear into the landscape by using different styles and colors. The major innovation in this area is vinyl or polymer-coated fence that adds color to today’s quality chain link fabric and framework. These new designs and options enhance the aesthetic appeal of chain link fence in residential applications that protect children, property and pets.


Today’s chain link fence is built with the consumer in mind. Many consumers expect metallic-coated chain link fence materials to last over 20 years, and to meet those expectations the industry has established higher quality standards and improved manufacturing processes. The protective coatings, both metal and polymer, inhibit rust and ensure that quality materials provide consumers with the strength and durability they expect.


New colors add tremendous versatility to chain link fence. Black, brown and green are used when a fence needs to blend into the landscape, and black chain link creates a stately presence around a home or garden. In addition, color-coated chain link is softer to a child’s touch than metallic- coated. Homeowners should request UV (ultraviolet) stable color-coated chain link to ensure the color will not fade.


Framework can also be enhanced by designing a chain link fence with square posts that have attractive ornamentation like balls, finials or post caps on top. chain link fabric can be added to wood fences to improve security and better control pets while preserving the appeal of wood. In addition, high quality slats can be used to deliver maintenance free privacy. A number of newly designed walk and drive-through gates are also available to complete the installation of your chain link fence. Ornamental gates and designer caps add a finishing touch to any chain link fence.

chain link fence

Traditional Chain Link has kept children and pets safe since the turn of the century.

Slats can be added to a chain link fence to create more privacy or as a backdrop to landscaping.

Chain Link Fence

A small mesh fence around the pool provides see-through protection and provides climbing.

Chain Link Fence

A low level fence protects gardens from being trampled by children or stray animals.



When chain link fence is totally prohibited, fencing a yard can actually cost 400 or 500% more as a homeowner is forced to use more expensive alternative fence products. Requiring expensive fence materials may discourage the use of fences in a neighborhood, leaving children to possibly wander off and pets to roam free.


A sound alternative to restricting chain link fence is to encourage composite fence strategies through regulations. This recommends wood, ornamental or vinyl fencing in the parts of the yard facing the public street and, for economy, durability and effectiveness, actually promotes the use of chain link fence in the back yard to better control pets and protect children.


CLFMI commissioned a consumer study to determine the primary motivation in purchasing chain link fence nproducts and what they expected from the fence. Based on research conducted in 1994, the leading reason for purchasing a chain link fence was to control pets (51% of respondents), keep trespassers out (17%), and keep children in the yard (16%). These same consumers selected a chain link fence for three primary reasons: longevity, strength and low maintenance.

The research also concluded that 70% of the consumers surveyed expected their chain link fence to last 20 years or more, and 72% would have selected a color-coated chain link fence had they been aware it was on the market. In addition, that same survey showed that 74% of the consumers surveyed would be willing to pay 5 to 10% more for a stronger fence.

CLFMI believes the longevity, strength and low maintenance needs of the homeowner, the concerns of the neighborhood and the expense of the fence purchase can be properly balanced in the neighborhood covenants that address the concerns of each group. See Neighborhood Regulations Here.



CLFMI recommends the inclusion of minimum quality and strength standards in homeowner association covenants that ensure a fence’s durability and strength. Standards are available for wire gauge, wire mesh, line posts, top rail and terminal posts. Standards for light, medium and heavy duty metallic-coated and color-coated chain link fence are included in the proposed regulations.

The cost differential between the lightest gauge chain link system to one that meets minimum recommended residential standards approved by ASTM is less than 10% of the total cost. Properly installed fences that meet or exceed recommended minimum specifications have been proven to maintain structural integrity under normal wear and tear and have 5 – 15 year warranties.


Today’s chain link fits into any neighborhood. From high quality metallic-coated fence to the more subtle color-coated chain link, the market today offers homeowners a variety of choices. When developing neighborhood or government regulations, the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute recommends utilizing of one of the two proposed regulations as a model for your community.

These policies balance the cost of purchasing fence materials, security issues and the aesthetic concerns of a community. chain link fence remains one of the fastest selling fence systems in the United States and, with recent product innovations, has improved its aesthetic appeal and quality standards. It provides an economical solution to protecting homes and neighborhoods while controlling both children and pets.

The proposed regulations balance aesthetic goals with the homeowners’ practical need for an economical fence solution.


Fencing Product A wareness Survey (1994). National Survey Systems: Los Angeles, CA.

Free Fact Guide For chain link Fence (1997). Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute: Columbia, MD.

O’Neill, Gordon (1998). Marketing Plan for Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute.

O’Neill Communications, Inc.: Marietta, GA.

Position of the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute on Residential Fence Systems,(1994). Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute: Columbia, MD.

Management Advisory Group (March/April 1998). “Cost of Doing Business Survey,” Fencepost Magazine.American Fence Association, Inc.: Stone Mountain, GA.

Selected ASTM Standards for Fence Materials and Products (1996). American Society for Testing and Materials: West Conshohocken, PA



To meet recommended standards, consumers, homeowner associations and regulators must understand the specification system for fence and fencing materials. A chain link fence is made of three components: fabric, framework and fittings.

ASTM has established minimum recommended quality standards for the fabric and tubing materials. The terms and specifications are explained below:

Fabric comes in different gauges, the smaller the gauge the larger or thicker the wire: 9 gauge chain link fence fabric is best, 11 1/2 gauge is thinner but acceptable for residential usage. Fabric with 2″ or 2 1/8″ mesh, in heights less than 72″ shall be knuckled at both selvages.

Fabric Mesh Size is the distance between parallel sides of the inside edges of chain link fabric. A 2 1/8” or 2” wire mesh is the minimum recommended for residential usage. The smaller the mesh, the stronger the fence, and a 2” mesh with 9 gauge wire is the highest quality fence generally used in the residential market. When surrounding a pool, mesh size should be no larger than 1 1/4″.

Tube Size is measured by outside diameter (O.D.) and the thickness of the wall which is referred to as gauge. Specifications are required for end posts, line posts and top rails. Again, the smaller the number, the thicker and stronger the interior wall. For example, a 16 gauge line post (.065” wall thickness) 1 5/8” in diameter is the minimum standard recommended for residential use while a 1 7/8” diameter with 15 gauge wall that is .072” thick meets a much higher quality standard.

Chain Link Fence