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5 Different Types of Barbed Wire

A collage of types of barbed wires.

What Is Barbed Wire?

Barbed wire is a type of wire that helps make cheap fences. The wire is characterized by having sharp metal points that are also known as barbs. Barbed wire mainly has two steel strands that are coated with zinc.

These strands are twisted together, and in between the spaces, barbs are added to make this type of wire extremely hard to climb over. It can either be laid on the ground or put on top of fences as an effective barrier.

The need for barbed wire mainly emerged in the 19th century when it became impractical to continue using stone and wooden rails for fencing. This was because they were expensive to use and were also becoming scarce over time.

The main usage of barbed wire is on highways, in prisons, privacy fields, and the edges of grass fields. A common phrase that is used to refer to a barbed wire is ‘devil’s rope.’

Related: Fence Gate Options | Gabion Wall & Fence Ideas | Types of Fence Posts | Types of Wire Fencing | Types of Wood Fencing | Fence Designs | Chain Link Fence Ideas

A Brief History of Barbed Wire

Stacked barbed wire.

Before 1863, a lot of people created forms of fencing that could be considered as barbed wire. But these never reached the masses. It was not up until 1863 that Michael Kelly came up with a fence that had points that were attached to twisted wires.

This was when barbed wire really came into being. However, owing to the fact that Michael Kelly did not promote it well, someone else claimed the idea. Hence, Michael Kelly is not really a name that people associate with the invention of barbed wire.

So who is the credited inventor of the barbed wire we know and use today? In 1873, when at a fencing exhibition, three men (Jacob Haish and Joseph Glidden were amongst them) proposed the idea of improving fencing by attaching wires or barbs directly to it.

This is when the idea “really” came into being and was propagated to the masses. Since then, Glidden has been known as the ‘King of barbed wire.’

The use of this fencing tool has changed life in the United States. Almost all people now use barbed wire in some form or another. It eliminated the need for fencing, which meant that livestock could graze freely and they could also roam freely in a certain area.

Farming could be done in a much better manner, and more people could settle in that area, too. The main idea behind using barbed wire was that wooden fences were overpriced and were not conducive to work practices. By making use of barbed wire, all the work could be done in a much better manner.

Barbed Wire Twist Types

Barbed wire is mainly made by making use of a wire twisting machine and steel with low carbon content. Barbed wire has three common twist types. These are:

  1. Single Twist Barbed Wire
  2. Double Twist Barbed Wire
  3. Traditional Twist Barbed Wire

Single Twist Barbed Wire

Single Twist Barbed Wire

This is mainly used in security fences that have sharp edges. The wire material used for this type can be galvanized steel wire, stainless steel wire, low carbon steel wire, and PVC coated iron wire in different colors.

It comes in many sizes, but the approximate spacing between the bars of this variant is 1.96 inches to 5.9 inches. The distance of the barbs from each other is 3 to 6 inches.

This fencing wire is mostly used in prisons, government buildings, military fields, detention houses, cottage fencing, society fencing, and national security facilities.

Double Twist Barbed WireDouble twist barbed wire fencing

In this type of barbed wire, the wire has small points that are made by twisting the wire around itself at regular intervals. There are different twisting patterns that are used in this variety by different manufacturers.

Mostly, a galvanized finish is used, but sometimes, a plastic-coated finish does the job well, too. Another name that is used to refer to this type of barbed wire is FRreverse Barbed Wire.

It is made from hot-dipped galvanized steel. When it comes to barb spacing, double twist barbed wire is quite similar to its single twist counterpart in that its barbs are approximately 3 to 6 inches away from each other. Double twist wire also has many wire coils.

It is mainly used for forest protection, animal husbandry, industries, highways, and agriculture. The great thing about this type of wire is that it protects the plants, animals, or property it encloses from damage. How?

It acts as  great security by preventing taller trees from falling down, and it also keeps your pasture protected from malicious animals. This way, your property can be kept safe. It is important to note that the barbs of this wire are very sharp and can cause serious injuries.

Care should be taken when installing the barbed wire fences to ensure that your hands are protected. It is ideally recommended to use gloves.

Traditional Barbed Wire

This variety is made by making use of a barbed wire machine that uses a twisting procedure to twist wire into the long, pointy strands that we’ve come to know as barbed wire. Galvanized steel or low carbon both can be used to make traditional barbed wire.

The wires can be PVC coated, zinc-coated, or even made of iron. The wires are galvanized in order to make sure that corrosion is minimized. It is mainly used for land fencing, animal cages, home security, and business security.

An important fact that one needs to know about this type of wire is that it does not need stretching when it is being installed. Alongside that, the barbs are fixed between the wires. This variety is adaptable for all kinds of fencing needs, and it is usually zinc-coated.

Barbed Wire Machine

A barbed-wire machine produces single or double barbed wire that is plated with zinc. The machine has a horizontal design that is mainly made up of two parts that are both joined together from the center. It is safe to operate and is known to do a good job of making high-quality products.

The machine has a 3 kW motor with an output of 70kg/hour. It weighs approximately 1500 kg and can produce up to 4 twists in the wires if needed. The wire diameter is approximately 1.8 to 2.2 mm, and the speed at which the shaft rotates to make this wire is around 432 rotations per minute.

Chain Link Fence

Chain Link Fence

A chain-link fence is a weaving fence that is made of galvanized wire or PVC coated wire and is used most often on roadsides, gardens, parks, and for housing purposes too. It is also known as a wire mesh fence or a chain wire fence.

A chain link machine is used to fasten the rolls automatically. In the knitting process, the coiled wire is screwed into the form of a flat coil. The wire diameter is approximately 1.2 to 5 mm, while the fencing height is usually in the range of 0.6 to 3.5 meters.

The edges can be either bent or twisted, and the roll length can be around 10 to 50 meters. The rolls are made to be packed with plastic films, and then they are tied crosswise.

Types of Barbed Wire

There are many different types of barbed wire. These are listed below and explained in great detail, too, along with their specifications.

Galvanized Barbed Wire

Galvanized Barbed Wire

This type is characterized by high tensile wire, and it works very well for security purposes. Its barbs very closely resemble razor blades in both their sharpness and their look.

The thin, razor-edged barbs make it extremely difficult for any intruder to climb over this form of barbed wire. The wire and the strip are both galvanized so that they don’t corrode.

Currently, this type is used in many countries for security facilities, government buildings, detention houses, and military facilities. The barb length and barb spacing differ according to the many sizes that this variety comes in.

Galvanized single barbed wire has 4 spikes that are spaced at approximately 70 to 120 mm apart. Galvanized double barb wire has 2 twisted lines with 4 spikes that are spaced at around 75 to 100 mm apart.

PVC Coated Barbed WirePVC coated barbed wire used for fencing

This variety is mainly used for security fencing. It is a wire that is covered with vinyl; this not only reduces the chances of rust on the wire but also has a great effect on the strength of the material.

When operating, the wear between the layers is majorly reduced owing to the fact that it is covered with vinyl. This variety is best used in ocean engineering, and by big excavators and irrigation machines.

Typically, this variety has 2 twisted wires that have 4 spikes that are spaced at approximately 65 to 120 mm apart. The thickness of the PVC coating varies from 0.4 mm to 0.6 mm.

High Tensile Steel Barbed Wire

This variety has a coil diameter of around 1000 mm. The barb length is approximately 13 to 20 mm, with each barb being approximately 60 mm from their neighbors. There are many different sizes in which this variety is available.

Concertina WireConcertina razor wire

Concertina barbed wire is a one strand line wire that has many protrusions on the surface. These protrusions don’t let the barbs slide down, and so, this type is used a lot in chain link fencing or for expanded metal fencing for extreme security purposes.

The barbed wire is characterized by sharp edges, a rust-resistant property, rigidity, and stability. It is mainly used for airport fencing, farm fencing, prison fencing, factory fencing, residence fencing, and highway fencing. The wire is usually made from stainless steel with a diameter of approximately 3 mm.

The tensile strength of this wire is 1235 N/m^2. There are many color choices that you can select from if you want to buy this variety that also offers great convenience when it comes to installation and uninstallation. This is a razor wire that is used mainly because of its aesthetic appearance.

It is known to have excellent performance and is also known to be extremely affordable. It can be installed easily and has high tensile strength. With excellent flexibility, this wire has a uniform zinc coating that ensures that it does not corrode.

Welded Razor WireWelded razor wire being used

This razor barbed wire is made from straight blades that are welded together. It is a highly practical form of barbed wire when it comes to security, and it also looks highly presentable due to its neat appearance. It is made from high-quality stainless steel and also has carbon steel and wire in it.

The thickness of the core wire is 2.5 mm, and the sheet thickness is approximately 0.5 mm. It is mainly used as a guarding fence and is also used for military purposes. It can ensure great protection.

Barbed wire is excellent for security purposes, and ever since its invention in 1873, most people have made use of it for security purposes. Owing to the fact that it has sharp metal edges, it is extremely hard for any intruders to get into a property if the said property is protected by barbed wire.

Alongside that, the barbed wire also comes in many types and sizes. Depending on the person buying the wire and the specifications that they have, they can choose whichever one they feel suits their needs the most.