This can be a lengthy discussion, but to summarize there are some fundamental differences. Each type of wire product has been designed with a specific purpose in mind. There are wire products designed for smaller animals such as rabbits, sheep or goats, and some designed for horses, cattle and deer. Not all wire fencing products are safe or recommended for all circumstances. Another significant difference amongst wire products is the manufacturer’s origin. In today’s world, there are many imported wire fence products. We have yet to see a single imported wire product that rivals a similar product made in the USA for it’s combined strength, longevity and overall quality. Though the initial cost may be slightly less, if the fencing requires maintenence, repair or replacement prematurely the perceived savings evaporate quickly. For this reason, though we have complete access to imported product, we stock only wire fence products made in the USA.
In the case of wire fencing, the smaller the number the thicker the wire, (12 gauge is thicker than 14 gauge) but thickness does not always tell the whole story about the strength or longevity of the wire. This is where the type of wire and coating comes in. There are commercial wires which are inferior to Class I wires and Class I wires do not last as long as a Class III wires, all things being equal. These benchmarks are determined by steel mills in what are known as salt tests. When exposed to a controlled salt rich enviroment, certain standards are achieved. A Class III wire will outlast a Class I wire at a ratio of 3:1 in a salt test. To further complicated the discussion, there are merchant wires (also known as soft wires) and there are high tensile wires. High tensile wires are designed for improved tensile strength and will have limited stretching attributes when installed. Softer wires will have far more stretch in them and may require additional tensioning over time. Another wire gaining popularity and widespread acceptance is Zinc Aluminum. Most ZA wires are a high strength wire with outstanding salt test results. The projected longevity rivals that of Class III wires and often comes with a more economical price. We expect the ZA product line will be reshaping the fence wire industry in the coming years.