How to Install Tension Wire on Chain Link Fence

Objective: Be able to install tension wire on a chain link fence.

Equipment: 2 ea. come-a-longs, pliers, bolt cutters, chop saw or hand saw, wire rake for the appropriate height wire, speed wrench with ½” socket, barb wire dog, T-bar, and hammer.

Key Topic: How to install top or bottom tension wire on a chain link fence

How to Install Chain Link Tension Wire

Diagram of a commercial chain link fence

Tension wire is made of spring steel, so it is extremely resistant to stretching and bending. Due to this, you should approach cutting the wire with a great deal of caution. The last thing you want is for the wire to accidentally whip you or one of the other installers. If you do not have the spool grasped firmly in your hand, it will quickly become so tangled that it will become unusable. Always wear safety glasses and gloves, as the spinning end of the spool could also cause a safety hazard.

1. Lay the spool of tension wire on the ground and cut the banding.

2. Grasping the end of the spool firmly, slowly pull the wire along the inside of the fence line to the other terminal post. While you’re doing this, another installer needs to put constant control and pressure on the spool, keeping it constantly in their control.

3. Install an end or brace band at the base of the terminal post. The ears of the band should be pointed to the other terminal post.

4. Bend a one foot section of the tension wire around the brace band’s nut and bolt with your pliers. With tightly wound loops, wrap the tension wire around itself at least four times. Do not leave any loose loops; this could cause the wire to unravel.

5. Leave at least a one foot section to wrap around the wire. Unless you have a good piece of wire to get a hold of while wrapping, the rigidity of the tension wire could make you quite frustrated. Cut any remaining tails once you are done.

6. At the other end of the stretch, pull the spool past the terminal post and estimate how much wire you will need to complete the stretch, then cut the wire.

Tightening bottom tension wire on a chain link fence

7. At the base of the terminal post, place a brace.

8. Along the fence line, pull the tension wire taut by hand. Then place your wire dog about ten feet from the terminal post.

9. Above the brace band, wrap the cable end of your come-a-long around the base of the terminal post.

10. In the eye of the wire dog, place the fixed end of the come-a-long.

11. While making sure to keep constant pressure on the cable, crank the come-a-long until the wire is taut.

12. Most tension wire has a natural crimp, and that crimp should remain visible after installation is complete. Do not attempt to stretch the crimp out of the wire. A mistake many people make is to stretch the tension wire until it’s too tight.

13. Cut the tension wire and attach it to the brace band located at the base of the terminal post.

14. At every line post, tie the tension wire with a fence tie.

If you are installing tension wire at the top of your fence, you will thread the wire through the line tops. With top tension wire, it is very easy to over stretch the wire and pull the terminal post out-of-plumb. This is not always noticeable when you are stretching and commonly occurs after installation is completed. This means that just because your terminal posts are plumb, you should not assume you didn’t overstretch the wire. Simply stretch the tension wire to the point that it isn’t sagging and you have placed tension on the crimps.