Fence Buyers University

What does "gauge" mean?

Gauge refers to the thickness of either the pipe wall for both chainlink and ornamental fences or the thickness of the wire for chainlink mesh. The thicker the pipe or wire wall, the smaller the gauge. For example, 16 gauge pipe is thicker than 17 gauge and 9 gauge wire is thicker than 11 gauge.

In reality, when talking about chain link mesh, GAUGE MEANS NOTHING! Why? Because what is 11 gauge chainlink mesh to one company, may not be the same to another. And, it seems that every year the wire gets thinner but the gauge remains the same. The following chart contains gauge conversions into inches. A wire gauge has a tolerance of approximately plus or minus 0.004 inches so we also included the minumum thickness that wire should be for the respective gauge.

Chainlink wire gauges (SWG*) converted to inches

Gauge Inches Minimum
6 gauge 0.192 0.187
9 gauge 0.148 0.144
11 gauge 0.120 0.116
11 ½ gauge 0.113 0.109
12 gauge 0.106 0.102
12 ½ gauge 0.099 0.095

The information on this chart is based on that provided by the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute

In Alberta, Canada, wire that is 0.106 inches (12 gauge) is sold as "11 gauge" and wire that measure 0.134 (10 gauge approximately) is sold as 9 gauge by most retailers and chainlink manufacturers. Why? We are not sure, it happened before we began operations in the area, but it was probably the result of one manufacturer starting it and the others following suit in order to stay competitive.

At TrueFence we will not sell you an "11 gauge" wire that is actually 12 gauge. In fact we do not use the word "gauge", rather we use the actual measurement when selling chainlink fabric and pipe. We feel that the best thing that we can do is educate you, the consumer, and eventually the word "gauge" may have meaning again.

To avoid being taken advantage of, always ask for the exact thickness (in inches or millimeters) of the pipe and wire and have it written into the contract. Additionally, chose a contractor you can trust. Take a look at our minimum specifications for chainlink fence and visit The Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute for more information about chainlink fence specifications and gauges.

* Imperial Standard Wire Gauge

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