How to Beautify and Hide Your Chain-link Fence

Close-up shot of a chain-link fence.
  • 0-45 hours
  • Beginner
  • 1-4
What You'll Need
Fence slats
Rolled wood fencing
Rust-inhibiting metal primer
Paint roller
Wire brush

The chain-link fence is one of the most versatile and widely used fence systems today, but it is not always very attractive. While newer chain-link fence options have become a bit more colorful and stylish in the past few years, , this won't help you if you're dealing with a preexisting fence. If your fence has become an eyesore, or even if you simply don't like the look of it, you need to find a way to beautify it, disguise it, or hide it all together.

The following options are several ways to do this. None necessarily work better than others and whichever fence face lift works best for you will depend on your yard and your tastes. For example, if you want to make the fence more attractive but are not concerned with hiding it, painting it or using fence slats are both good choices. However if you want to hide it, rolled wood fencing, a veil of vines, or some types of fence slats will be better choices.

Take the time to explore your options before you make your choice. Often, several methods can be used in conjunction with one another, which will give you the best results.


Painting a chain-link fence is probably the quickest and cheapest method of improving its appearance. Unless it's vinyl-coated, chain link should be a relatively easy item to paint. Vinyl-coated chain-link fencing can be painted, but it should only be done by a qualified professional. While you can paint your fence any color, choosing a shade like black, dark green, or brown should make it less noticeable and blend into the background.

Before you start painting, make sure you clean the fence and remove any rust with a wire brush. If there is any rust on the fence, apply a rust-inhibiting metal primer before painting. You should also mow the lawn, cut back any plants that border the fence, and use a tarp to cover the ground around the fence to catch any drips. Follow the primer with high-quality exterior enamel paint.

For best results, use a roller with a 1 to 1 1/2-inch nap to cover the chain mesh and a brush to paint the fence posts and hardware. Although spraying it might give you a good finish, it can be difficult to control the overspray.

Fence Slats

If you are looking for a way to spruce up a chain-link fence while also making it more private, fence slats make a good choice. Fence slats are long pieces of aluminum, polyethylene, or wood that you insert into the fence vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. They are quick and easy to install. Even better, they are available in a wide variety of colors, which gives you the ability to create patterns and designs by alternating the colored slats in the fence. You can also create a monochrome look by painting your fence the same color as your slats.

Before shopping for fence slats, you need to know the height of your fence along with the chain mesh's size and the gauge of the wire used to create it. Chain-link mesh is measured diagonally in both directions using the inside dimension. The two most common mesh sizes are 2-inch mesh, which is usually made with a 9 or 11 gauge wire, and 2 1/4 or 2 3/8-inch, which is usually made with 11 1/2, 12, or 12 1/2-gauge wire.

Slats can either be top locking, bottom locking, or self-locking. Top-locking and bottom-locking slats have a channel that slips through the slots at the top or bottom of the fence to help secure them; self-locking slats do not. There are many different types of slats. Different types will have different degrees of wind load and privacy factors. Most have at least a 75 percent to 80 percent wind load and privacy factor, although some slats are available with higher numbers. A few even offer 100 percent privacy.

If you want to disguise your fence, consider purchasing fence slats that are made to simulate the look of a hedge. The slats are made of wire inserts that are covered with green "needles" made from flame-retardant PVC. These simulated hedges are amazingly durable and usually come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty.

Rolled Wood Fencing

If you want to hide your chain-link fence all together, rolled wood fencing is your best option. Rolled wood fencing comes in a variety of materials including cane bamboo, willow, stick, reed, dwarf pine, fern, and twig. These fences are made up of pieces of wood held together with galvanized wire, which are sold rolled up. They come in a variety of heights up to 8 feet high and are easy to attach to any existing chain-link fence with special ties or wire. Once attached, they will generally offer total privacy and give a natural feel to your garden while hiding your chain-link fence. This option could be expensive and not as long lasting as some other options. The fence's longevity will depend on the type of material used.

Continue to Part 2: Hide Your Fence with Annual and Perennial Vines >