Purchasing vinyl coated chain link fencing can be confusing. One contractor says “9 gauge material” on his proposal while another says “11 gauge wire”. Which one is better? Undetermined.
Why the confusion? It all stems from the gauge. Is it finished gauge or core wire gauge? According to ASTM 668, vinyl coated chain link is specified and ordered by the metallic core wire. However, according to various suppliers, they may interpret your request to mean a finished gauge ( metallic core wire plus vinyl coating). For example, a 9ga finished extruded and bonded wire has only an 11 ga. core wire.
Second issue is the type of coating. Your residential chain link is typically “non-spec class 1 extruded” wire, meaning the vinyl coating is simply pulled over the wire like a sock over your foot. This wire generally is miss represented because it is thicker than the higher grade materials. Of course the reason it is thicker is because it is not bonded to the chain link and can easily tear or peal.
The second grade of wire is the “class 2A extruded and bonded” wire. This wire may appear in some specifications and is generally used in commercial applications. The vinyl coating is thinner than the “class 1 extruded” wire. However, the extruded and bonded wire is bonded to the wire by means of an intense glue, thus less likely to peal or tear from the core wire.
The third grade of wire is “class 2b thermally fused and bonded. This class of wire is most predominately specified with architects, engineers, city, state and federal. It has the thinnest coating yet has the greatest strength in resisting cracking, pealing and tearing. The vinyl coating is literally fused and bonded to the steel like welding two pieces of steel together. This is the superior product.
Bottom line, how do you interpret the specifications you are given? If the gauge of material is indicated, yet it does not indicate finished or core wire; it should be interpreted to mean the core wire per the ASTM.
If it does not state core wire, you should request that the contractor indicate the core wire size with the gauge and the words “core wire” behind the gauge. For example if you want a 9 ga. core wire, indicate on your request “ 9ga. core wire”. After the gauge, then indicate the type of coating. Select one of the three listed above. Never list the finished gauge and never leave off the words “core wire”.