If you want a sturdy and affordable enclosure for livestock, pets and even kids, install a wire fence. It keeps in the critters you want and keeps out the predators you don’t. Installing one is easy and inexpensive if you follow this step-by-step guide.
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For this guide, we will focus on how to install a welded wire fence. We will mention other types of wire fences in the section below.
Here are the tools you’ll need.
Tools You Need
- String (Mason’s line)
- Measuring tape
- Post hole digger, shovel, or auger
- Spray paint
- T-post clips
- Fencing pliers
- Drainage stone
- Wooden stakes
- Tamping bar
- Post driver
- Fence posts*
*Wire fences are usually installed on either a wooden or metal post.
- Wooden posts are more common for their simplicity and low price tag. However, they require more upkeep than metal posts.
- Metal posts are more expensive than wooden posts but are more robust and last longer with less upkeep.
Step 1: Mark the Perimeter
Mark the location of your fence posts. Pick a starting point and go around the property.
- Mark each corner with a stake where your posts will go.
- Measure as you stake the ground. To ensure your posts are square, use the Pythagorean theorem to measure your corners: 3, 4, 5.
- Start at one corner, measure three feet along one fence line and four feet along the other. Use tape to mark your places. If done correctly, the marks should be five feet apart. If they aren’t, adjust the stakes until you achieve five feet. (It’s much easier to move stakes than to move posts).
- To mark where the line posts will go, measure six to eight feet from each corner. Use spray paint to mark the locations.
Pro Tip: If you plan to install a gate, mark a spot between two fence posts. Normal-sized gates are three feet wide, whereas double-door gates are six feet wide.
Step 2: Dig Holes
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IMPORTANT: Before you dig, call your local utility company at 811. They will mark the locations of any water, gas, or power lines. Avoid digging near those marks.
- Using a post hole digger, shovel, or auger, dig a hole at each marked location, starting at the corner posts. The holes should be 8 inches in diameter and two feet deeper than the height of the fence posts, plus six inches for gravel. If you want to dig deeper, make your fence post longer to compensate.
- Tamp each hole with the tamper bar to ensure it’s flat. Otherwise, the fence’s weight will cause each post to sink.
Pro Tip: Location plays a role in how deeply you dig. In areas where temperatures get below freezing, dig below the frost line, or the posts will heave out of the ground as the temperature changes. Find your area’s frost line online or call your local building office.
Step 3: Install the Fence Posts
- Fill the bottom of each hole with six inches of gravel to keep moisture from reaching the fence post. This is particularly important if you’re using wood posts, as moisture will cause the wood to rot quickly.
- It’s also a good idea to place gravel even if you’re using metal posts despite their extra moisture resistance, as the gravel will keep them sturdy.
- Use the post driver to put the fence posts in the ground on top of the gravel base. Use a post level to ensure the posts are plumb (at a 90-degree angle).
- Gradually fill the holes with concrete, which will keep moisture further away while securely holding the posts in place. The concrete will push the post around as you fill the hole, so continually check it to ensure it stays level.
Once all the holes are filled, and the posts are in place, wait for the concrete to dry. The type of concrete you use determines how long you’ll have to wait. Fast-setting concrete can harden later in the day while slower-setting concrete can take up to a few days. Check frequently within the first 24 hours to ensure the posts remain set.
Step 4: Attach the Wire
The type of posts you’re using determines how you’ll secure the wire:
- Wooden posts: use a stapler to attach the wire to the posts.
- Metal posts: use T-post clips to attach the wire to the top, middle, and bottom of your posts. Use a hammer to secure them.
Make sure your connections are extremely tight on the top, middle, and bottom, as you’ll be pulling the fence tight.
- Starting at a corner post, roll out the wire along the fence line, stopping at each post. Feel free to ask a helper to hold the wire while you roll it out.
- Stretch the wire around each post, securing it as you go. The fence should be tight and secure. Stretch the wire around any corners you come across.
- Try to ensure the wire ends at a post. If it extends past it, cut it at the center of the post. Use wire clippers to cut the excess wire.
Pro Tip: Make sure the first two posts are level; if those two are straight, the other posts will be too. If you go off level, cut the wire at the last post and start a new section, or loosen the ties and unroll it.
And you’re done. If you’re unsure what to do or want to know the process, this video is one of many visual aids.
Other Types of Wire Fences
In addition to welded wire fences, other types of wire fences exist, such as:
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Barbed Wire Fence
A barbed wire fence consists of steel wires outfitted with pointed barbs and strung between wooden posts. It works great as an enclosure for larger animals like cattle and goats.
Woven Wire Fence
A woven wire fence, or field fence, consists of intersecting vertical and horizontal wires wrapped around each other. The wires come in different gauge numbers; the lower the number, the thicker the wires. Larger numbers contain gardens and small animals, while smaller numbers contain larger animals like horses. Chain link fences are an example of a woven wire fence.
[Animal] Wire Fence
Some fences are designed specifically to pen in hogs, chickens, cattle, and other livestock. All of them are made of sturdy wires woven into squares and rectangles. Each one differs in height:
- Hog: 3 to 8 feet
- Deer: 6 feet
- Chicken: at least 4 feet
- Cattle: at least 4 feet
Frequently Asked Questions
A welded wire fence costs between $3.50 and $10, including materials and labor. Several factors that affect the cost of fence installation are:
• Height and length
• Posts used
• If you add a gate
• If permits are required
• Brush and fence removal
• If you have rough terrain
A galvanized welded wire fence lasts 15 to 20 years. A vinyl-coated fence lasts 10 to 15 years.
An electric fence is a fence that shocks animals that get too close to it. It isn’t fatal – instead, it trains them to stay away from the fence.
Down to the Wire
Building a welded wire fence is a labor-intensive but fun DIY project. It won’t break the bank, it’ll keep your animals contained, and you’ll get a fence out of it. If you don’t have the time to build a wire fence yourself, contact one of FenceGnome’s pros to receive a quote.