When you build a wire fence, the type of wire you use is very important. Using an inferior wire will lead the fence to rust quickly and need to be replaced. Instead, you should use vinyl coated, stainless steel, Zinc Aluminum with black paint (if available), or Class 3 galvanized (if available), which will stand up to the elements and last longer. However, just as important as the type of wire you use is the type of posts that hold the wire up. These are often overlooked when it comes to fence building, but if you use the wrong type, it can weaken the structural integrity of your fence even faster than the wrong wire. That’s why it’s important, when building a Class 3 galvanized wire fence, to use galvanized posts as well.
- Galvanized: To galvanize something is to coat it in a protective layer of zinc. Zinc will stand up against water and the elements better than other types of metals, protecting against rust and making your metal last longer. Galvanization takes place either before (GBW) or after (GAW) the welding. GAW is the longer lasting of those two. Class 3 galvanized wire (if available). Class 1 galvanization uses only a very thin layer of zinc, which lasts 2 - 11 years before it rusts. In a coastal area, where salt water is a factor, it can last 2 years or less. Class 3 galvanization, on the other hand, is thicker, and can last anywhere from 13 to 30 years. It’s a little more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be replaced nearly as often, saving you more money in the long run.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel welded wire mesh is strong and long lasting. By its very nature stainless steel wire needs no additional finish, such as galvanizing or PVC, to protect it. The wire itself is extremely resistant to rust, corrosion and harsh chemicals. If you need a welded mesh or fence in an area with prolonged exposure to corrosives, stainless steel products will meet the demands. Type 316 is recommended for salt water environments since it has a higher resistance to corrosion than Type 304.
- Vinyl Coated - VC - welded wire fencing and meshes are both long lasting and attractive. Galvanized welded mesh is coated with a thick layer of PVC which is tightly bonded to the wire by a heat process. The coating is flexible and will not crack when the wire is bent. It is stable over a wide temperature range, maintaining its qualities in extremes of both hot and cold temperatures. UV inhibitors are in the vinyl to retard degradation from sunlight. The coating is also very resistant to scraping and abrasion. Vinyl coated welded wire mesh and fence, sometimes referred to as plastic coated wire products, are very strong and durable. They are long lasting and rust resistant. They have double protection. Not only does the vinyl coating seal the wire from water and other corrosive elements, but the underlying mesh is also protected by a zinc coating.
- Zinc Aluminum - ZA: a new, zinc-coated aluminum hybrid coating. It lasts more than twice as long as Class 1, but uses less coating then Class 3, which saves you money.
- ZA with Black paint: Lasts more than twice as long as Class 3 and is painted black. It will last 13 to 30 until rust in non-coastal environments.
Benefits of Steel Posts
The wire isn’t the only part of your fence that’s subject to the elements. The posts are as well. You can have the best wire on the market, but if the posts fail first, you’ll still have to replace your fence sooner than intended. A lot of wire fences use wood posts. They’re strong and sturdy, but they can rot over time, or be eaten away by termites and other bugs. It’s much better to use metal posts. The best posts are the steel T-posts because they are galvanized. They are made with studs every 2 1/8" down the length of the post, allowing you to customize the height of your fence easily and prevent the fence from riding up and down the post.
But of course, metal posts are subject to the same issues as metal wires are. If you’re not careful, they can rust. Therefore, just as it’s important to use the choices mentioned above for your fence, it’s also essential to use galvanized posts. Galvanization will guard your posts against the elements, so that they don’t rust as quickly.
Your posts are what hold your fence together, so it’s important that they be strong, sturdy, and long-lasting. High quality wire on a cheap, low quality post will cause problems and likely need to be replaced within a few years. But if you use strong, metal, galvanized posts, with top quality wire, then your wire fence can last you for decades.