Fabric comes in a variety of gauges. Gauge is the diameter of the wire; the higher the gauge number the smaller the wire diameter. Standard mill diameter tolerance is + or - .005". Common gauges and diameters are as follows:
Chain link fabric is available in heights of 36", 42", 48", 60", 72", 84", 96", 120", and 144". The fabric is formed by weaving a series of spirals together. How the top and bottom of fence is finished is referred to as the selvage. Fences less than 72" must knuckle both ends by industry standard (KK). Heights of 72" and higher, are generally twisted or barbed at one end and knuckled (BK) on the other. For high security enclosures, chain link can be obtained with both ends twisted or barbed (BB).
Zinc coatings may also differ. There are two different processes for applying zinc to wire. Galvanized after weaving (G.A.W.) is a process in which wire rod is drawn to the finished gauge, and then woven into chain link fabric. The fabric is then pulled through a pot of molten zinc. This process applies 1.2 ounces of zinc coating per square foot of fabric and conforms to ASTM standards.
The other process for applying zinc coating to chain link is called galvanized before weaving (G.B.W.). In this process the wire rod is drawn to gauge, and the strand wire is then pulled through a pot of molten zinc. The wire is then woven into chain link fabric. Generally chain link fabric made using this process carries a zinc weight of .8 ounces per square foot or less.
The distance between two parallel wires in the fabric is referred to as the mesh size. The most common mesh sizes are 2" or 2 ¼", but smaller meshes of 3/8", 5/8", 1", 1 ¼", 1 ½" and 1 ¾" are available for projects that require a higher degree of security.
The quality of chain link fence fabric is determined by both the gauge of the wire and the weight of the zinc coating applied to the wire. The American Society for testing material has established standards for residential and commercial chain link fence fabric under designation A 392-96.