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The Fence Post

Wire Mesh and Fencing Materials - Know What You're Buying!

April 8, 2013 | by Josh Lane

Woman Punching Men's Face
Baffling Big Box

Wire mesh and wire fencing are things in which people just don’t have much knowledge. It's rare that someone at the big-box home improvement store, or a relative or neighbor for that matter, might know something about how to select it. Wire fence is sort of a specialty item, and if you find yourself in need of it, information tailored for the end consumer can seem scarce. An ignorant seller can pass on this lack of knowledge to the customer and you end up with an unhappy buying-selling relationship. Even a good-intentioned seller can spread costly misinformation while meaning to help. The customer meanwhile is more inclined to believe what he or she is told, particularly when that means a lower price.

To Illustrate: A Fictional Conversation

How bad information can be circulated. 


Big Box Bob--mowed lawns and weed-whacked as part of a grounds maintenance team, now in school to be an electrician and working as an apprentice.

Frugal Francine--Francine is an accountant by day and tends her garden and cares for her two Doberman pinschers on nights and weekends.

Scene: In the lawn and garden section of a local big-box retailer. 

Francine (approaches Bob): Hi. I want some fence to replace the rusty old chicken wire I put around my garden. There were a couple of rolls of it when I bought the house and I usually just replace it every couple of years when it gets too mangled to deal with. I’m sick of that though. I can’t be replacing the fence every year, and plant my garden, and still have time for my dobies. I’d rather just put something up that’s going to last. I’ve looked online a little and found that there are several options for a garden fence. They all sound like they are built to last a long time, but there is so much difference in price between the different types of...of...galvanized wire, and then even more disparity between the galvanized and the...the...vinyl coated wire. Incredibly, not even all vinyl-coated wire is the same price. Is there really that much difference in quality, or is it all a big scam? I’m so frustrated. I just want a fence that will be permanent. What I value, is reliability and I don’t want to pay for fancy stuff that I don’t need. Please help me!

Bob: Francine I totally understand your frustration and I think I can help. I’ve actually never worked with wire mesh or fencing, but I do have some knowledge about what galvanizing does and I have some thoughts about what you are paying for with some of the fancier vinyl-coated stuff.

Francine: Oh Bob, you're wonderful! Please! Tell me how it is.

Bob: Fran, It’s like this. Galvanizing is a process by which a protective zinc coating is applied to steel or iron so that it does not rust (Wikipedia). If the fencing is galvanized, then that is all you need for it to last indefinitely assuming it doesn’t get cut or trampled. All the other things like galvanized after weld and the different types of vinyl coating are for aesthetic purposes, or to make it stronger to keep animals in or something. So, if you want to save some moolah and still have a fence that lasts forever, I would just get the inexpensive, galvanized before weld, welded wire. Any other questions, Franny?

Franny: Hmm...what you say sure sounds technical and smart. I’ll admit that saving a few dollars would be really nice. I really appreciate you not pushing the pricey stuff on me. Are you sure galvanized won’t rust?

Bob: Yes. Sure, looked it up me-self. (First sentence about galvanization on Wikipedia.)

Fran: Okay Bob. I really appreciate your expertise. I’ll take a roll and some 6-foot steel posts, please.

Bob: Dealio!  (And...scene.)


So, you can see how there are no bad intentions here. Bob thinks he is being very decent and fair, and Francine feels as though she has been treated well and will never have to replace this galvanized fence. Unfortunately, Bob’s instincts have not served him well, and Francine’s trust has been misplaced. Galvanized does not last forever. The chart below from Bekaert Corporation gives an idea of how long galvanized can last and the difference between types of galvanized wire.

galvanized wire chart

First Signs of Rust

Depending on the type of galvanizing that is done, Francine could be looking at one year or less before she starts to see rust forming on her “rust-proof” fence. How will Francine feel about Bob when the first signs of rust appear at the weld points on her fence? What distinguishes a long-lasting fence from a semi-temporary one can be seemingly subtle differences. It is worth it to find someone who has taken the time to know the difference between the vast array of products available.

Josh signature      Josh Lane

Galv After Welded Wire Mesh


Topics: wire mesh, welded wire, galvanized after

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