Ways to Cover an Ugly Chainlink Fence

Is there anything good you can say about chain-link fence on a residential property?  Other than being inexpensive, chain-link is an awful blight on your yard.  As a measure of how despicable this building material is, it has come full circle and has been used in high-end architecture, notably the Frank Gehry residence in Santa Monica, California.

As far as I'm concerned, chain-link is best used on tank farms and prison yards.  The problem is, a chain-link is the fence version of kudzu:...MORE  difficult to get remove.  The posts are deep-rooted, and you practically need a tractor to extract them.  Cut them off at the base?  Because they are metal and filled with concrete, they are hard to cut.  If you manage to remove the chain-link, then what?  Chain-link is unwieldy, argumentative stuff.

After all that, covering it up looks pretty good.  Here are 5 options.  None are as good as uprooting it and replacing with a nice wood fence, but they are vastly cheaper.

  • 01 of 05

    Full Bamboo Screens

    Bamboo on Chain-Link Fence
    Bamboo on Chain-Link Fence. © BambooFencer.com

    Rolled bamboo fencing is constructed from attached poles ranging in thickness from 3/4" to 2".  This stuff really looks like bamboo--like something those seven castaways on Gilligan's Island might have put up.

    Full bamboo pole screens can be installed on chain-link fence by tying it directly to the rails and poles with 1 foot lengths of 16 gauge wire.

    I've found BambooFencer.com to be a good source for full bamboo fences, as they are transparent about their pricing and have clear...MORE instructions for attaching to chain-link.

    Attractiveness:  5

    Privacy:  About 85%.

    Cost Per 50' of Fence:  $431 for 3/4" rolled bamboo.

    Durability:  Moderate.  Choose poles that are cut on the nodes, as they do better.  The nodes are natural weather-resistant caps.

  • 02 of 05

    Mesh Wind Screen / Privacy Screen

    Mesh Privacy Screen for Chain Link Fence
    Mesh Privacy Screen for Chain Link Fence. © AV Prime Inc.

    At first glance, fence screen looks like tarp.  But tarp doesn't work well on fences because it catches the wind and acts like a sail.  

    Fence screen is made for fences:  it is water- and wind-permeable; it has double-thick trim around the perimeter; and it has brass grommets on the trim so that you can attach it to chain-link with zip-ties.

    Attractiveness:  Poor.  However, it can be coupled with more attractive screens listed elsewhere in this article.

    Privacy:  From 80% to 96%, depending on...MORE how much you are willing to spend.

    Cost Per 50' of Fence:  Lowest cost solution of all.  You can spend as little as $40 for passable quality 85% privacy screen (Amazon).  The best quality fence screen comes from FenceScreen.com for their 100 Series FenceBlock 96% for $65.50.

    Durability:  Excellent.  As this is non-organic UV-rated polypropylene, it should last for many years, more so than the organic products listed here.  But due to its woven construction and dark color, the elements will eventually take a toll on this material.

  • 03 of 05

    Reed Screens

    Gardman Reed Fence Screen
    Gardman Reed Fence Screen. © Gardman

    Thin bamboo reeds about the thickness of a drinking straw are woven together into 16' long mats.  These rolls are easy to carry and transport back from the home improvement store.  

    Attractiveness:  Attractive for the first year.  After that, the reeds change from golden-brown to gray and start of fall out of the wire weaving material.

    Privacy:  Reed screens do not come with privacy ratings, but I estimate 85% privacy when new.  As the screen falls apart, privacy drops as well.

    Cost Per 50'...MORE of Fence:  $76.50

    Durability:  Poor choice for the long-term.  After about 2 years, this fencing is ready to be pulled out and redone.

    The Australian company Gardman appears to have monopolized the entire reed fence market, supplying all major home improvement stores.  See link below for catalog, but be aware that Gardman does not sell on the retail market.

  • 04 of 05

    Wooden Fence Panels

    Cedar Fence Panel
    Cedar Fence Panel. © Home Depot

    Regular wooden fence panels can be screwed onto chain-link fences by means of U-brackets.  The upside is that, if this is properly installed, it looks just like a "real" fence.  Downside is that you're pretty much flying blind.  There are no hardware kits or systems that help you make the conversion.  For instructions, search on YouTube.

    Attractiveness:  High.  

    Privacy:  High, about 90%

    Cost Per 50' of Fence:  $500

    Durability:  Good.  If you use cedar, this wood is naturally...MORE weather-resistant, because it is a very oily wood.  Any species of wood can be sprayed down with sealer to extend its life.

     

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Chain-Link Fence Slats

    Chain Link Fence Slats
    Chain Link Fence Slats. © Home Depot

    In theory, a great idea:  since chain-link fences allow for long, narrow pieces to be inserted vertically, why not do a whole fence-worth of this?  In reality, fence slats make your yard's fence look like your local elementary school.  Surprisingly expensive, fence slats have the lowest privacy rating of all.

    Attractiveness:  Poor

    Privacy:  About 75%

    Cost Per 50' of Fence:  $225

    Durability:  Extremely durable; can last for decades as slats are made of either High Density Polyethylene or...MORE aluminium.  Fences slatted when Harry Truman was President are still standing today.