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Wire Fence Gauge Sizes (i.e. Chain Link) by Purpose

Understanding Fence Gauge Sizes

Thinking about installing a chain link fence on your property? Known for being reliable and durable, it’s also low-cost, which makes it an attractive option for those looking to cover a wide swath of land. Large facilities, such as schools or military compounds, find chain link fences useful for security reasons.

Those in the farming industry who must keep animals corralled appreciate its strength and flexibility. Easy to install and remove, they’re popular choices for construction sites as well as forming perimeters on tennis courts, basketball courts, and playgrounds.

Plus, there isn’t a lot of upkeep required to keep them looking and performing well. However, they are typically not the first choice for homeowners, who tend to install privacy fences comprised of wood, PVC, or vinyl.

Chain link fence with gray privacy slats

Chain link fence with gray privacy slats

The Different Parts That Make Up a Fence

No two chain link fences are alike: there’s mesh size, wire type, and gauge size to consider that make up the different parts of a chain link fence. Each component interacts with one another to produce a wide variety of outcomes.

Understanding the difference in gauge sizes is an essential part of the process–otherwise, the wrong choice could negatively impact what you are trying to achieve.

What are wire gauge sizes?

Gauge refers to the diameter of the wire, or how much steel is in the fabric. Numbers are then used to designate the difference in size. The thicker the wire, the lower the gauge number. It may seem counterintuitive, but 7 gauge is actually thicker than 12 gauge wire!

This is due to the manufacturing process, which originally took place in a rolling mill, where a single strand of wire was ‘drawn’ through a series of dies and plates that got smaller and smaller to achieve smaller diameters. (Fun fact: this started all the way back in 1735!)

A 7 gauge wire would be pulled through seven dies, and a 12 gauge would be pulled through 12 times. Today, advances in modern technology allows for precise tools and equipment that can measure and produce the precise size necessary.

Pro tip: just remember that the lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire.

Choosing the Right Fence Gauge Size for You

Now that you know the origin of the gauge and how to ‘read’ its varying sizes, it’s time to answer a few questions to help you finalize your choice in fences, as different gauge sizes have unique advantages.


First, you must determine its use: will this be temporary, or permanent?

A higher gauge, or thinner wire, is easier to install and remove, so for fences that serve a short-term purpose, think higher! 11 is a fence gauge size frequently used on construction sites.



Next, you’ll want to determine its purpose. If this will be used to keep animals within a specific area, note that large animals, like cattle, will need a thicker, stronger wire to accommodate all of their mass and body weight straining against the fence at times.

Many experts recommend 12 gauge for sizeable livestock. If you have even larger animals with greater strength, prone to bouts of high activity, like bison or cattle, the thickness of a 9 gauge may be recommended.


If you would like to line an orchard, a 14 gauge fence would likely suffice.

Pets and smaller animals

Smaller animals, like goats or dogs, really only require something lightweight, so a higher number like a 16 gauge would be appropriate. (But for animals who can easily jump several feet, consider making the fence exceed waist-height!).

Tennis and basketball court

Many homes have a sport court and/or tennis court. A chain link fence is useful because it keeps the balls in the court area. The fence should have a 9 to 11 gauge chain link wire.

Baseball field backstop

If you so happen to have a baseball field on your property and are installing a backstop, the typical gauge is 9.

Standard residential gauge

If you’re wondering what the usual wire gauge is for your typical chain link fence, it’s 11 gauge.

Chain link wire production process (video)

The chain link production process is pretty interesting. Here’s a video.