How to Install a Chain Link: Detailed Steps

Read on for the basics of installing a chain link fence by yourself! From what tools and materials you will need, planning steps, and detailed instructions for each step!
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
August 29, 2023

Chain link fences are an affordable fence option to mark your property lines or enclose your yard - all without getting in the way of you seeing in and out! Chain link fences are also relatively easy to install as a DIY home improvement project. If you are ready to put up a chain link fence, this article will guide you through every step of your chain link fence installation. Let’s start with the tools and materials you will need.

What You’ll Need


Come-along tool with fence stretcher bar

Ratchet wrench set


Post hole digger

Garden hose and water supply

Trenching shovel

Bubble post level


Rolls chain link fabric

Terminal posts

Line posts

Top rails

Tension bars

Tension bands

Tie wires

Terminal post caps

Line post eye tops

Rail ends

Tension wire

Brace bands


Wood stakes and twine or string

Landscape gravel

Preparing for Installation

Check Local Regulations and Permits

Just like any type of fence installation, the first step is preparation. First, check your local municipal regulations to make sure that you are allowed to put up a fence where you want to put it. Also ensure there are not any local building codes or zoning regulations that would prevent you from installing a chain link fence. Specifically check that a chain link fence style is allowed, and the height of the fence that you want is permitted. Sometimes high fences are not allowed, especially in front yards. If they are allowed, you can always check out ways to heighten your chain link fence. Lastly, check to see if you need to obtain a permit before beginning work on your new fence!

Determine Where Your Property Lines are Located

Whenever you put up a fence between your property and a neighbor’s, you should have a conversation with your neighbor and inform them of your plans. You will also need to be in agreement that where you plan to install your chain link fence is actually the property line between your properties. Once those are confirmed, you can mark those lines with stakes and twine.

Contact the Utility Company

Since you will be digging as part of the process of installing your chain link fence, you will need to first have any underground utility lines marked. Call your local “Call Before You Dig” number about two weeks in advance and ask for someone to come out and mark any underground utility lines on your property. Running into those with a shovel or post hole digger could cause injury or even death. So it is always a good idea to make sure you will not run into any utility lines before you begin your project.

7 Steps to Install Your Chain Link Fence

Step 1: Plan the Layout

Now that you have finished all of your prep work and are ready to start installing your fence, step one is to plan the layout of the wire fence. Consider the purpose of the chain link fence. Is it for security? Or is it for privacy? Are you trying to keep pets and small children in the yard? Make sure your fence will meet your needs and then start planning the layout. This means that you will need to measure and mark out the path your fence will take around your property using stakes and twine to create a string line. There is a good tip for laying out corners that will ensure you get a right angle at the corner, it is called the 3, 4, 5 method. To use this method, measure out three feet on one side, four feet on another, and then measure the diagonal path between those two points. If it measures five feet, then you will know that your corner is square.

Step 2: Mark and Install the End Posts

Your next step will be to install the end posts, and it is very important that these posts especially are set up correctly for the rest of the fence to work out according to your measurements. So double-check the end post measurements and mark the locations so you know where to dig the post holes. These are crucial for the stability of the entire fence. To install the end posts, use your post hole digger to dig post holes. The depth of the post hole should be about a third of the height of your post to ensure it will be strong enough to keep the fence stable. Next, fill the bottom of the post hole with landscaping gravel to about six inches. After that, insert your end post into the post hole and grab your level to make sure it is plumb to the ground. Fill the remaining post hole space with concrete mix and add water. Using concrete to set your end posts will add to the stability of the fence.

Step 3: Mark and Install the Intermediate Posts

After you have the end posts set and finished, it is time to mark and install the intermediate posts. First, measure out and mark the locations where you want the intermediate posts to be. The post spacing should be even in order to properly support the chain link mesh and for aesthetic purposes. Spacing the intermediate posts every four to ten feet will give you the support you need for your chain link fence. After the intermediate post locations are marked, run some twine or string to make a string line that runs tightly across the tops of the two end posts. Use a post hole digger to dig the holes for the intermediate posts. They should be deep enough that about one-third of the post height is buried underground. Next, add about six inches of gravel and set posts in the post holes. Make sure the top of the post is about two inches below the twine, and put the level on top of the post to ensure it is plumb. Finally, fill the hole with concrete and let it set!

Step 4: Add Tension Bands and Caps to Posts

Next, you will need to start preparing the posts to put up the chain link roll. Attach the tension bands to your posts. Chain link fence tension bands are used to attach the chain link fencing to the terminal posts, end posts, corner posts, and gate posts. You will start at the bottom, attaching tension bands spaced about every foot with the flat side facing towards the outside of the fence. You will also need one brace band for the very bottom and one brace band for the very top with the rail cup facing inward. Tighten these with wrenches. After you have the tension bands and brace bands attached to the posts, it is time to install the caps on top of each post. This will protect the posts from water and corrosion. You may have different post caps for the intermediate posts than for the end posts. Caps with loops allow the top rail to go through the cap while caps without loops belong on the end posts.

Step 5: Install the Top Rail

Now that you have prepared your end posts and intermediate posts by setting them and attaching the necessary hardware, it is time to install your first rail. Start with the top rail, and place the rail along the top of the fence line. Secure it by pushing the top rail through the loops in the post cap fittings. The top rail poles will attach to each other by pushing opposite ends together, and if they are simply too long, they can be shortened by cutting them with a hacksaw. Once the top rail poles are in place, fasten all of the nuts and bolts. Make sure everything is tightened and secure. The top rail will provide additional support for the fence and prevent the chain link mesh from sagging, so it is important to make sure it is done correctly. Note that the top rail should be measured out about an inch and a half longer than the length you need to go from post to post so that the rail will fit into the open cup section of the post cap.

Step 6: Hang the Chain Link Mesh

Now that you have your top rail secured, it is time to hang the chain link mesh - your fence fabric. Starting at one of your end posts, begin to unroll the chain link mesh along the fence line next to the posts. Attach a tension bar through the last row of diamonds in the chain link mesh. Use the tension bars to attach the chain link mesh to the tension bands on the end posts and corner posts. Lift up the chain link mesh and stage it so that it is vertical from post to post. Use loose wire ties across the top rail to hold the chain link material up, but do not tighten. At this point, you do not want to tighten it but you also do not want slack. You will stretch the fence fabric once you have ensured everything is properly measured and in place. Make sure the bottom of the chain link mesh should be about 2 inches off of the ground. If it is not, then adjust the height of your tension bands and re-tighten them afterwards.

Step 7: Stretch the Chain Link Mesh

Now that everything is in place and ready to be permanently attached, it is time to stretch the chain link mesh. Use a temporary tension bar by sliding it vertically through the diamonds in the chain link mesh about three feet from the end post. This bar will be removed once the mesh has been stretched. Next, hook your fence stretcher bar to the temporary tension bar. Then hook the fence puller, or come-along tool, from the tension bar to the extra tension band on the end post. Once that is all attached, you will slowly pump the lever on the fence puller to pull the chain link mesh towards the end post to remove any excess slack. Make sure that the mesh is evenly tensioned to maintain a uniform appearance in your chain link fence. When you have your fence material pulled tight enough, cut off the extra chain link fence material and remove the fence puller, the temporary tension band, the temporary tension bar, and the fence stretcher bar. Add the last tension bar, and using your wrench, tighten the tension bar to your end posts tension bands. Also, use wire fence ties to attach the chain link mesh to the posts every foot. And on the top rail, twist wire fence ties about every two feet for the fence’s entire length. Do the same for the lower tension wire.

You can also add different covers to your chain link fence if you desire extra privacy or more of a dynamic look for your property.


How far apart should the post be on a chain link fence?

Fence posts on a chain link fence can be spaced more widely than on other types of fences, like wood fences or vinyl fences. That’s because chain link fence posts are smaller and stronger than many other types of fences. There should be manufacturer’s instructions to follow for spacing, and if there are, follow those. However, typically, the posts should be spaced about every four to ten feet.

What is the most important thing to consider when installing a chain link fence?

The most important thing to consider when installing any fence is whether it is allowed. Some cities have municipal codes or zoning laws that determine what types and heights of fences can be built and where. So first, you will need to make sure it is a legal fence according to your local laws and regulations. Secondly, you want to have your neighbor on board with the project if the fence runs along shared property lines. You do not want to have a conflict with a neighbor over your fence once you have already spent time and money installing it. If you live in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association you should check that the HOA allows chain link fences. You should also weigh the pros and cons of different fence styles- like wood vs. chain link- to decide what's best for your property.

How much does a chain link fence cost?

Chain link fence materials cost between four and fifteen dollars per linear foot. Installation costs an additional five to fifteen dollars per linear foot. An average front or backyard chain link fence costs about $2,000 including installation. So you can save a lot by installing it yourself. Another factor that goes into the cost of materials is the type of chain link mesh you decide to get. If it is covered in colored vinyl, like black or green, to help it blend in better with your landscaping, that will cost a little more than the typical metallic chain link mesh. Also, if you decide to get any decorative hardware or privacy slats to add to the fence that will add on to the total cost. Another factor in the cost is whether you want to add any swing gates to your chain link fence. A chain link fence gate costs between $100 and $400 including labor.

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