Of Chain Link Fence?
Do It Yourself
Please help me with a fence problem. My
new neighbor has installed a 6'H chain link fence between our properties. The side
that faces my property has numerous sharp points, or barbs all along the fence. The
sharp points are a result of the chain link fabric being galvanized (dip drip). The
side that faces my neighbors property has a smooth finish. Our zoning code states
that all walls and fences shall be constructed so that the finished side of the fence
shall face out or away from the property upon which the fence is constructed....
Unfortunately, our city building department, zoning department and code enforcement
division cannot seem to figure out what "finished side" means. I have
tried to reason with them by explaining that "finished side" means a desired
surface texture and that "unfinished side" would mean an undesired surface
texture. Did I mention that I have two children, 4 yrs. old and 7 yrs. old - with
unbelievably smooth, precious baby skin. !!
This fence extends to a seawall (I live on a canal) and the children have a small area,
3'-4'W to navigate between our backyard deck and THE FENCE. Our building
department has told me that, "There is no finished side for a chain link
fence." Please let me know if there is some standard that applies to chain link
fence fabric, and if there is a difference in the two sides of the fence fabric, or if
there is another place I can get information. I am not looking for legal advice -
only technical specifications and/or standards that can help me. Anxiously waiting to hear
In general, many zoning laws do specify that the
"good" side of a fence face out towards the neighbor. Some zoning laws do not.
Check your local zoning always before constructing a fence. Even if a permit is not
required, there usually are restrictions on fences as to height, type or setbacks from
property lines, as well as what is commonly called a "good neighbor" requirement
that requires the best side to face out from your property.
Basically, your building or zoning department is
correct in saying there is no good side of the chain link fabric itself, however,
generally the posts should be on the other side of the fence from your perspective. The
good side, in my humble opinion, is the side without the posts.
Chain link fabric, which is the term used for just the
woven wire, does not usually have a good side or bad. It should be the same on both sides,
for the most part. Any accumulated zinc drippings from the hot-dip process would be
equally deposited on both sides of the fabric. Usally these drippings are not so sharp as
to cause injury. Reversing the fabric should have no affect whatsoever. Other than
debating which side of the fence the posts are on, I can't see that you have an argument
on the fabric. You say that one side is sharper. I have to take your word for that, but I
have never seen any difference that would be noticeable.
Another recourse would be, if the fabric truely is that
sharp, demanding that the safety hazard be eliminated. Many residential zoning forbids
fences that have twisted barbs on the top or bottom of the chain link fabric. The only
acceptable selvege is knuckled ends that are bent over. Likewise, barbwire is not usually
acceptable. The reasons are obvious; to reduce hazards in residential areas. If the chain
link fabric surface is sharp enough to cause injury to a child, that is a hazard. No one
can place hazards on their property whether it is a fence or not. Also I would say that
excessive zinc drippings that are that sharp enough to cut, like a razor blade, might be
an indication of an unacceptable product.
In most cases, the sharpness can be eliminated with a
pair of pliers. Although a bit of a tedious process, the sharpest drippings are knocked
off easily with pliers and will so no harm to the chain link. You might consider
compromising with your neighbor by getting permission to knock those off the fabric. The
sharp drippings come off readily with a slight twist around the wire while gripping the
wire with a pair of pliers.
In selecting a chain link fabric for your property and
avoiding the pitfalls of galvanized "roughness", choose vinyl coated chain link,
which is quite smooth. Also aluminized fabric does not have the drippings. It looks like
galvanized, but is not quite as shiny when new. You will pay a little more for both types
of chain link fabric, but each will outlast a plain galvanized fence.
Short of the preceding remedies, the kids will learn
not to touch the fence after they get a scratch or two, like I did when I was a kid. I
doubt if they will encounter an injury that will not heal before they reach the age of 18
and the scarring is likely to be fairly minor.
Author: Frank R. Hoover, Hoover Fence
25 years+ in the fence business
Copyright 1999 Hoover Fence Co.
May be reprinted as long as source is acknowledged
copyright Hoover Fence Co. and Hoover Enterprises, June 1999.
5531 McClintocksburg Rd., Newton Falls, OH 44444, Phone: (330) 358-2335