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Fence Gauge Explained

by Judy Knowler

There are many considerations that go into choosing the right wire fence for your property. If you want your fence to be effective, you need to consider local zoning laws, the terrain on your land, and your purpose for the fence — all before you even start thinking about things like material or type of weave.

But there is one element of wire fencing that many people struggle to understand (if they remember to think about it at all): wire gauge. This refers to a wire’s thickness, and it is an important metric that can help you find the right wire for your needs.

But how do you know which wire gauge is right for you? That is what we’re here to talk about today.

Understanding Wire Gauge

Gauge is the measurement of the thickness, or diameter, of wire. Originally, the measurement was based on the number of times that steel would be pulled, or drawn, through a set of dies that gradually decreased in diameter. A 9-gauge wire would be pulled through a progression of 9 dies, where 14-gauge wire would be pulled through 14 dies, with each die getting a little smaller in diameter in order to reach the desired thickness. Today, modern tools are used to precisely measure the diameter of the wire to maintain strict gauge standards.

The Larger the Number, the Smaller the Wire

It might seem backwards, but for wire fencing, the larger the number, the smaller the wire. This is because the gauge size doesn’t refer to the wire’s actual diameter, but rather the number of times the wire was pulled through a die to make it smaller during the manufacturing process. A 7-gauge wire was pulled through seven dies, while a 12-gauge wire (which remember, is thinner) would have been pulled through twelve times.

A 20-gauge wire, for example, is thinner than a 9-gauge wire. A low-gauged, or thicker, wire is best used for heavy animals that will test a fence’s strength by pressing into the wire. High-gauged wire fence is most effective with small, lightweight animals that test the enclosure on limited areas.

If you want to understand wire gauges (and choose the right wire fencing for your next project), it is very important to remember this detail: smaller = thicker.

Wire Gauge

Why Wire Gauge Matters

When you’re looking for new fencing material, it’s important to review every element of the wire — and gauge size is no exception. Choosing a wire fence with the wrong gauge size can make your fence less effective, less safe, and more trouble for you than it needs to be. This is why it’s important to find the right gauge for your wire fencing.

Considerations When Choosing Wire Gauge

Now that you understand what wire gauges are and why they matter for your fencing project, let’s discuss how to choose the right gauge for you. There are three main things to consider when choosing the right wire gauge for your fence: strength, height, and purpose.

Fence strength

How strong does your fence need to be? Obviously, every fence should be sturdy enough to withstand forces like strong winds, but some fences need more strength than others. For example, a livestock fence for your cattle enclosure requires a much stronger wire than the fencing around your vegetable garden.

If you’re penning in large, heavy animals, you’ll want to consider a sturdy 12.5-gauge wire. If your animals are easily spooked, you might want to opt for something even stronger, like a 9-gauge. On the other hand, a lightweight 16-gauge wire is ideal for projects like garden fencing or dog kennels.

Fence height

The height of your fence can also help you determine the wire gauge that will best suit your project. How tall is the animal you’re trying to keep out (or in)? Typically, the larger the animal is, the thicker your wires should be. For example, a fence that keeps rabbits and squirrels out of your garden doesn’t need the thickness and strength that a deer-proof fence might need.

Consider which animals might be interacting with your fence and use their size (and by extension, the size of your fence) to find the right gauge size for you.

Fence Purpose: What Gauge is Best for My Application?

Red Brand offers a broad range of wire thickness, each with unique advantages. Yard, Garden and Kennel is available in 16-gauge wire that is ideal for kennel fencing. The wire is thick enough to keep scratching paws in, and lightweight enough to make installation easier.

For larger animals, a thicker wire is the best way to go. Most deer are three times the size of a typical dog, so a wire that is stronger than Yard, Garden and Kennel is essential. Deer & Orchard fence is woven with 14 ½-gauge wires that protect your trees from prodding antlers and inquisitive snouts.

On the other hand, an excited bull will test the strength of the fence that he stands behind. To assure that he stays put, a substantial 9-gauge wire might be necessary. But, in most cases, our popular 12 ½-gauge Field Fence will keep your livestock safe and secure.

Take Home Message

Regardless of what type of animals you are tying to keep in (or out), Red Brand has an ideal fence solution to meet your needs. The broad range of options ensures the proper amount of protection for your property. Large animals with plenty of strength will need a thicker wire to contain them. Lightweight, high-gauge wire will install easily and safely contain smaller animals. For help choosing the proper fence style, check out our convenient Fence Selector.

Be sure to consult with your local Red Brand dealer once you are ready to make your purchase. While you’re there, you can confirm the proper fence style for your project. You can also get installation advice and pick up the tools you’ll need to install your fence.

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