Chain link fencing was originally developed as a commercial and industrial option, largely to secure properties. Practical, utilitarian, and relatively inexpensive, it has been widely adopted in residential areas in recent years. Relatively easy to clean and maintain, chain link fences are a great contemporary option for security, and to contain pets or to secure back yards.
The earliest chain link fences were made with a kind of wire mesh that wasn’t coated, though it was sometimes galvanized. Responding to demand, manufacturers developed various coatings from PVC and vinyl that improved the fencing aesthetics and made it last longer. Typically green or black, coated chain link fences are without a doubt easier to clean and maintain than those that are not coated.
Maintaining a Chain Link Fence the Right Way
Even the best quality fences can get damaged, particularly those that are older – so maintenance is key.
Check your chain link fence regularly and if you find any form of damage, take immediate action. Amongst other things:
- Check upright and supporting posts for wear and tear. These will usually be metal, and could rust. If they weren’t concreted into the ground, they might also shift. Remember that all upright, supporting poles should be at right angles to the ground.
- The chain link itself doesn’t damage easily, though it can be if something heavy falls against it, a dead tree for example. It also isn’t easily cut, but bad things do happen, and if criminals do manage to cut or force their way through fencing, it should be replaced as soon as possible.
- If the chain link isn’t coated, it’s important to check for rust. If you catch it quickly you’ll save money in the long run.
- Of course if the fence has become a dirt trap, you’ll need to clean it.
Cleaning a Chain Link Fence the Right Way
Having mentioned that rust can be a problem on metal posts and uncoated chain link fences, you’ll need to know how to tackle this. Rather than waiting until the rust is so bad it needs a chemical rust remover or worse, requires replacement of posts and/or the fencing material itself, use steel wool to get rid of early signs of rust. Wear rubber gloves, and simply rub it off using a little pressure. If you have to use a commercial rust-removing product, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and be sure to flush well with clean water when you are finished.
If the fence is just dirty, you might be able to hose it off and scrub any debris that refuses to move when sprayed. Many people use soapy dishwater to clean their chain link fences, but a more environmentally friendly method is to use borax mixed with water (3 gals/14 liters mixed with about two cups of natural borax powder will usually do the trick). Borax doesn’t contain detergents of any kind, and it is also an effective natural pesticide. Mix it with the water and then decant into a good quality outdoor pump sprayer. Spray the areas that are dirty or have accumulated mud, bird droppings and other debris; leave for about ten minutes before hosing off with clean water. If you have to scrub, wear rubber gloves.
Sometimes mold forms on fencing. Instead of using bleach (which is admittedly an effective agent against mold), for environmental reasons it is better to use white spirit vinegar. Not only is it kinder to plants, but vinegar contains acetic acid which is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral. A mix of 3 gals/14 liters of water mixed with 2 gals/9 liters white vinegar usually works well. Again, if you have to scrub, wear rubber gloves or your skin will suffer.
Even though a chain link fence is normally the cheapest option when it comes to fencing, it pays to keep your chain link fencing well maintained and clean.