What is Hog Wire Deck Railing?
The Merriam-Webster definition of hog wire says that it is, “heavy woven fencing with the meshes smaller at the bottom and usually with the bottommost wire barbed.” This is true of hog wire used for containing wild or feral hogs but is not exactly what we are discussing when we look at hog wire deck railing.
Hog wire deck railing is often a misnomer. Many decks employ sheep or goat wire, which is 4x4 squares of heavy wire (of varying gauges). In many cases, no livestock wire is harmed in the process of building a hog wire deck rail, as the wire is manufactured specifically for the purpose of railing infill.
Lest we get buried in the semantics of hog wire versus sheep wire versus cattle wire, we can generalize that we are discussing heavier gauge wire, welded at each joint, to be used as infill for various types of railing.
The Allure of Hog Wire Deck Railing
It may seem bizarre to imagine livestock fencing in use as a railing infill but hog wire offers a certain rustic elegance, with its nearly transparent properties. It is popular in areas that benefit from this clear sightline while offering strength and security like lakeview decks, zoological parks, docks, and nature trails.
Another benefit of hog wire deck railing is that it is relatively simple to install. There are myriad installation methods you can use from the most basic DIY projects to full systems like those from Wild Hog railing.
Hog wire (and other livestock) fencing has made its way from exclusive use on ranches and farms to a prominent position in modern deck construction. The simplicity creates a sense of style that combines with affordability and ease of installation to make what might be the perfect deck railing.
Types of Hog Wire Deck Railing
Hog wire railing infill does not offer a ton of variety when it comes to aesthetics. Most options come in some form of welded steel with few color options. The steel is typically coated in zinc known as “galvanizing”.
The options you will find, aside from the type of livestock the fencing is typically used for, is found in the gauge. Let’s have a brief look at what gauges are and what they mean for your choices.
Gauge represents the diameter of the wire and importantly to you, how thick it is. If you were using hog wire for...hogs...you would want to make sure the wire gauge was thick enough to keep your hogs where you want them.
Since we are not talking about pigs here, we can use gauge to determine how thick we want our railing infill to be for aesthetic reasons. The lower the number the gauge is, the thicker the wire.
Many vendors offer 6 gauge hog wire as an ideal option for your hog wire railings. It is thick enough to stand up to almost any test of strength but still delicate enough to present the appealing look of hog wire deck railing.
As the popularity of this type of railing infill has grown, more finishing options are becoming available. You can find panels with different colors or coatings, some that will rust naturally over time, and varying size squares. There are some opportunities for differentiation, just not as many as some other building products.
The Cost of Installation
The costs of installation varies depending on the choices you make. If you are doing the simple DIY method found below in How to Install Hog Wire Deck Railing, the cost is as cheap as the materials you select from the hardware store. You can get the cost of a 6-foot panel that is 36” high down to around $25 or so.
There are vendors who create kits that make the installation process simple and offer a professionally finished look. These kits can be expensive but do provide a high-end look for your deck railing. One 6-foot panel that is 36” high can cost around $125. Kits are ideal for those wanting to do a DIY project without starting from scratch.
If you decide to go with a professional deck builder, the costs can be up to $30 per linear foot of deck railing. This can feel expensive at first but if you consider the need for specific tools and, more importantly, a certain set of skills, it might be more economical to find a contractor.
The Pros and Cons of Hog Wire Deck Railing
Like almost every home improvement project, installing hog wire deck railing infill has its pros and cons.
- The price point is comparable to other high-end deck railing infills.
- Hog wire offers strength that will last over time.
- Hog wire allows you to see the view beyond the deck railing.
- Hog wire deck railing offers flexibility for unique, curved installations.
- The price point is higher than more basic railing infills.
- The look can be too rustic for certain styles.
How to Install Hog Wire Deck Railing
Installing a hog wire railing is, for once, a doable do it yourself (DIY) project. Many vendors like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply stock ready to use panels of 6 gauge hog wire panels with 4”x4” squares.
You will likely be able to find a plethora of options when it comes to gauges and breaking strengths, as we discussed in the Types of Hog Wire Deck Railing section. Making your choice might be the hardest part of the DIY hog wire deck railing installation.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example of needing to replace some old decking and install a hog wire deck railing. There are plenty of different designs and options to consider but we will keep it simple here for the sake of time. This is not a comprehensive installation guide but a way for you to decide if you are up to the task.
You have an old deck that requires new decking, as the boards have faced too many years of weather and tread. The deck overlooks a beautiful natural yardscape that you have spent years planting, tending, and sweating over.
You decide the railing must accommodate the need to see that beautiful yard of yours. It’s time to make a plan for a railing that will let you and your guests see all your hard work at its best.
Make a Plan
You decide on a railing with hog wire infill of 4”x4” squares to let the view shine through. Visit your local hardware store and choose your wire of preference that suits your need and desired aesthetic.
Your biggest decision will be the rail height. Most localities require a specified minimum height to be met, which in many areas is three feet (36”). It is always necessary to check your local building regulations and laws before starting a project of this nature.
You will need to remove the old railing in most cases. Take care to make all cuts that will support a new post or railing as even as possible. This will allow the new railings to rest on an even, stable surface.
Ideally, your railing will be supported by posts that rest on the deck as opposed to the posts that support the deck itself. This can require some tricky cuts (especially corner posts) using a mitre saw but is worth the extra effort in the end. This may be the step that forces you to decide a professional would be better suited for this job (see below).
If you are capable, it will be time to build the frames. Hog wire deck railing requires framing to support the fencing and create a clean, finished look. The simplest framing is two, 2x4 pieces of lumber run between the posts in such a way that it forms a “channel” for the fencing to rest in.
Before securing the bottom 2x4 pieces to the posts, it is important to use a vice to squeeze the 2x4 pieces together to ensure a tight hold on the fencing.
A very important pro tip for installing hog wire deck railing: Ensure the fencing is facing the same direction, when necessary. Many hog wire and livestock fencing options have the vertical wires offset from the horizontal wires. Make sure the verticals are all on the outside or inside so you do not have a mismatched deck railing infill!
The process would be repeated on the top of the hog wire fencing to secure it. Finally, 2x2 wood pieces can be used on the ends butting against the posts to offer a final securing point and ensure a finished look.
Most hog wire deck railings are finished with a top rail of simple decking boards. You can be creative here if you would like but decking is simple and rustic.
Using a Professional Installer for Hog Wire Deck Railing
We can’t all be HGTV stars who are master designers, landscapers, and carpenters all in one! For that, we have people who are experts in getting things done. If you need help installing your hog wire deck railing, you should do the work of finding a qualified, well-respected contractor in your area.
We understand that it can be a lot of effort tracking down contractors who have experience working with hog wire deck railings. It can also be challenging to keep all the reviews, quotes, and availability straight.
Use our convenient tool to help you select the best professional installer in your area. This will help ensure you are finding the right person for the job while saving time in the process.
A Buyers’ Guide to Finding the Right Hog Wire Deck Railing
Hog wire deck railing infill offers a rustic, yet high-end look for the railing surrounding your deck. It leaves a secure, aesthetically pleasing finish while allowing you to see beyond the deck with a relatively unobscured view.
This buyers’ guide should help you narrow down your options when it comes time to purchase the materials or make your contractor aware of your choices.
Gauge measures the diameter (thickness) of a wire. The smaller the number, the larger around the wire is. Common choices include:
- 16 gauge
- 14 gauge
- 10 gauge
- 9 gauge
- 6 gauge
Hog wire can also be measured in strength. More specifically, it is often measured in “breaking strength.”
Outside of very specific applications you do not need to worry too much about the breaking strength of different livestock wire options. Most hog wire fencing used as a railing infill is designed to withstand significant pounds of force before breaking.
There are multiple finishes or coatings you can select from. The rise in popularity has led to many new finishes being added to hog wire for the sole purpose of a more attractive deck railing infill.
Galvanizing Before Weld
- Wire is dipped prior to the welding process. This leaves some welds ungalvanized.
- Entry-level option that is least expensive but least durable.
- Vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
Galvanizing After Weld
- Dipped in anti-corrosive zinc after the welding process.
- Welded joints are covered with anti-corrosive.
- Slightly more expensive than galvanized before weld products.
- Longer lasting than galvanizing before weld products.
- You guessed it. This wire is coated in vinyl, specifically PVC.
- Extra layer offers max protection against the elements.
- Coating is aesthetically pleasing and can be customized or tailored.
- Typically costs more than options that are only galvanized.
- The wire goes through a process called “powder coating.”
- The coating is applied electrostatically then cured, creating an anti-corrosive barrier between the elements and the metal.
- Powder coating can leave a slightly unnatural looking finish.
- Wire made from stainless steel has no extra coatings.
- Higher upfront cost is often offset by long lifespan.
- Attractive stainless steel finish looks great.
Finally, you should decide on details like framing style and installation type.
- Hog wire panel kit
- Hog wire basic 2x4 and 2x2 frames
- 3’ x 3’ panels
- 3’ x 6’ panels
- 3’ x 8’ panels
- Professional installation