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The Wire Mesh Guide
for Beginners & Experts Alike

Wire Mesh is a versatile product that can be easily adapted to almost any application. It has the strength to perform in industrial settings and the aesthetics to enhance high-end architecture. Seen on partitions, facades, plant screens and other applications, this dynamic product suits nearly any design, while its lightweight quality makes it easy to handle, cut and shear.

Wire mesh goes by many names; hardware cloth, wire cloth, wire fabric and industrial wire mesh to name a few and that is appropriate when you consider how many different specifications, applications and industries that are associated with it. Keep reading to learn more about wire mesh and how it can be integrated into your project!

Explore Topics of Wire Mesh

What is Wire Mesh?

Wire mesh, or hardware cloth, is a fabric made of strands of metal wires running perpendicular to each other and are either woven over and under each other or welded to each other at points of intersection to create a mesh screen. Wire mesh is a non-load bearing product that is sold in sheets and coils.

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Wire Mesh Applications

Art Displays

Window Screens

Security

Cages & Pens

Parts Baskets

Column Covers

Pharmaceuticals

Cabinetry

Trash Cans

Ventilation

Guards

Frying Baskets

Ceiling Tiles

Livestock Flooring

Fencing

Mining

Lighting

Sizing Aggregates

Insulation Support

Partitions

Architectural Applications

Furniture

Filters

Shelving

Grain Cleaners

Speaker Covers

Infill Panels

Concrete Reinforcement

Discover what amazing projects other customers are completing with Wire Mesh.

Wire Mesh Manufacturing Process

Wire mesh begins as rolls of individual metal wire rods. The wire gets pulled through a draw plate to stretch and thin out the wire diameter, with multiple runs possibly being necessary depending on the desired thickness. As the wire goes through the draw plate, it cleans up the material and reduces mill scale. Once the wire has reached the specified diameter, it will be re-coiled and await fabrication. The next steps depend on the construction type of the wire mesh.

Wire Mesh Construction Types

The features, benefits, and applications of wire mesh depend upon the construction type of the product; welded or woven.

Welded Wire Mesh

Welded wire mesh is constructed on a grid welder where a series of weld presses and electrodes join the wires together through resistance welding. These wire mesh welding machines are often called Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). When compared to woven wire mesh, welded has the following benefits:

  • Visually flatter and cleaner appearance
  • Maintains its shape and integrity when cut
  • Will not fray on the ends if it is cut too close to the intersections
  • Reduced flexibility allows for more rigidity.

Woven Wire Mesh

Woven wire mesh is constructed using a large loom that weaves wires over and under each other to create a mesh screen. The benefits of woven wire mesh are:

  • Flexible, easy to shape
  • Variety of opening sizes
  • Available as rolls, sheets,
  • panels, or cut-to-size
    Available in small openings

Wire Mesh Weave Types

For woven wire mesh, there are numerous different weave types and each creates their own unique aesthetic appeal.  Although there are many more, there are three main weave types: plain weave, intercrimp weave and lock crimp weave.

From this side view you can see how the warp and shute wire are intertwine to create the plain weave pattern.

Plain Weave

The plain weave contains a smooth, over-under pattern. It is the easiest, fastest and most economical weave. Warp wires are the long wires that run the length of the sheet. Weft, or Shute Wires wires are individually fed into the loom either by hand or machine for fabrication and determine the width of the sheet. This weave type is most commonly used for filters or outdoor (insect) screens.

Intercrimp Weave

An intercrimp weave is often used in meshes with larger openings in comparison to their opening size, or where additional strength is needed. Intercrimp weaves have a “hills and valley” appearance, which add rigidity to the wire mesh. Additional crimps are added to the wires to allow them to remain in place.

Intercrimp wires may have an additional one to seven six crimps between intersecting wires. This weave type is most commonly used in infill panels and other barriers where maximum security is not of concern.

The type of intercrimp can be determined from this side view and is specified by the number of “hills and valleys” that are present in between the shute or warp wires. The above is a i3 intercrimp mesh.

Lock crimp’s security applications are so effective, it is the only wire mesh approved for use in penitentiaries.

Lock Crimp Weave

The lock crimp weave is comprised of pre-crimped wires that are stabilized by a notch or bump at the wire intersections. This weave type gives a more modern look to wire mesh by achieving accurate opening areas. It also has high strength and resists attempts of spreading the wires apart. Lock crimp weaves are primarily used in shake screens (or vibrating screens) and security applications.

Other Wire Mesh Weave Types

Double Crimp

Plain Dutch Weave

Twilled Weave

Twilled Dutch Crimp

Flat Top Weave

Intermediate Crimp

Types of Wire Mesh

There are four main types of wire mesh; square, rectangular, ECO-MESH® and designer. The features, benefits and applications differ by type.

Square

The most common type of wire mesh is square wire mesh, with mesh count the same in both directions. It is known for its easy handling and solid construction. Woven and welded styles both have a variety of indoor and outdoor applications, including screens, partitions and facades for parking garages and other structures. Interior uses include cabinet inserts and partitions screens in commercial and residential spaces alike.

Rectangular

This less common type of wire mesh has, as the name states, rectangular openings, which has the advantages of being lighter in weight and less expensive than square wire mesh. Rectangular wire mesh comes in both woven and weaved construction types and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use due to its corrosion-resistant properties.

ECO-MESH®

ECO-MESH® is a modular façade and trellis system that offers many aesthetic, sustainable and practical benefits. The panels are strong, durable, lightweight and well-suited for both interior and exterior spaces. Modular applications include facades, partitions, canopies, arbors and more. ECO-MESH® panels promote vegetation growth within the panel grid system.

Designer

Designer wire mesh, or decorative wire mesh, adds beauty and versatility to any project. It is constructed of wires that are woven into a variety of unique patterns and is used for many applications. These products bring eye-catching elements to interior spaces such as kitchens and laundry rooms.

Other Types of Wire Mesh

Hardware &
Industrial Cloth

Hardware and Industrial Cloth is available in a Welded or Woven construction and widely used in the farming industry and serves many other applications due to its corrosion-resistant and lightweight characteristics. The product comes in a Hot-Dipped Galvanized material.

Insect Screen

Insect Screen features a Woven Wire Mesh construction in a rectangular configurations. The product comes in aluminum, galvanized, copper, stainless or epoxy coated material. Small insects, such as no-see-ums, may pass through a typical insect screen (18 x 14 mesh). Smaller meshes from 20 to 325 are available.

Vinylmesh™

A vinyl-coated Welded Wire Mesh product. This type comes in a variety of meshes, gauges and widths and is easy to clean, weather resistant and corrosion resistant. Applications include animal cages, screens, partitions, racking, guards and others. It is available in full 100’ rolls only.

Wire Mesh Terminology & Specifications

Depending upon the applications, the critical factors to be considered when specifying wire mesh may include the type of material, the opening size, the wire diameter or the percentage of open area – or a combination of these factors.  

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Materials

Wire mesh is available in many different types of material: carbon steel, galvanized steel, stainless steel (type 304, 316, 347), aluminum, copper, brass and bronze. Unless finishing options are specified like powder coating, anodizing or polishing, expect most wire mesh items to be “mill finish.”

Opening Size

Wire mesh opening sizes are available from a very small micron used in fine filter applications to 6” or larger used for heavy aggregate or security applications. Wire mesh is available with openings so small water will sit on top of it without flowing through because of the specific gravity of water. Wire mesh with opening 6” or greater made with 1” wire rods may be used to size aggregates in the mining industry.

Opening size is measured from the inside of one wire to the inside of the adjacent wire. A 2” opening measurement means there is 2” of clear opening between two adjacent wires. Most commonly, an opening is square, meaning in this example, it would be a 2” opening in both directions. Less common, but still available, is a rectangular opening, which could be measured as a 2” x 4” opening, for example.

Mesh Size

There are two ways to measure the size of wire cloth. The terminology and measurements are very similar so pay close attention to the information below. The most common way wire mesh is measured is by specifying mesh count. This measures the total number of opening per lineal inch. For example, a 2 mesh has two openings per lineal inch (1/2” center to center).
Measuring Mesh Size

2 Mesh (Count from center to center of wire)

Another way that wire mesh is measured is by mesh size, which is the distance from the center of one wire to the center of the next wire in inches. For example, 2” mesh means there are two inches of distance (not open area) from the center of one wire to the center of the adjacent wire.

Diameter/Gauge

Wire diameter is the term for the thickness of the wires that make up wire mesh and comes in many sizes, from a very fine 0.0014” (51 Gauge) to 0.375” (4/0-1/2 Gauge) or larger. The lower the guage is, the thicker the wire will be. Wire diameter for wire mesh is typically specified in decimals of an inch as opposed to the more traditional measurement of gauge.

Wire diameter/gauge is important to consider when thinking about your application. Overall thickness of the wire mesh is key when determining how it will be installed or fastened to other materials.

Below are a few common applications along with common diameter/gauge ranges for reference. You can learn more about wire diameter/gauge by downloading our Wire Diameter & Wire Gauge Equivalents chart.

Diameter/Gauge ranges is for general guidance and informational purposes.

Filtration

Typical Wire Diameters 0.0014” Thick (51 Gauge) – 0.0075” Thick (39 Gauge)

Insect Screen

Typical Wire Diameters 0.009” Thick (36 Gauge) – 0.011” Thick (33-1/2 Gauge)

Fireplace Screen

Typical Wire Diameters 0.012” Thick (32-3/4 Gauge) – 0.047” Thick (18 Gauge)

Cabinet Insert

Typical Wire Diameters 0.063” Thick (16 Gauge) – 0.092” Thick (13 Gauge)

Infill Panels

Typical Wire Diameters 0.105” Thick (12 Gauge) – 0.375” Thick (4/0-1/2 Gauge)

Security

Typical Wire Diameters 0.080 Thick (14 Gauge) – 0.375” Thick (4/0-1/2 Gauge)

Percent Open Area

Wire mesh contains open spaces (holes) and material. Open area is the total area of the holes divided by the total area of the cloth and is expressed as a percent. In other words, open area describes how much of the wire is open space.

If the wire mesh has 60 percent open area, then 60 percent of the cloth is open space and 40 percent is material. The larger the open area, the more of a particular substance, air, liquid or light can pass through.

Trimmed Vs. Untrimmed

Stubs refer to the wire that is left beyond the weld or weave intersection. There are three options, trimmed stubs, untrimmed balanced stubs and untrimmed random stubs. Due to potential unraveling, Woven is not available with trimmed stubs.

Untrimmed equal (balanced) stubs on opposite sides only. Stubs will not exceed opening.

Untrimmed random stubs vary on all four sides of sheared pieces. Pieces not identical.

Trimmed flush (no stubs) with a minimum 1/8″ wire overhang on all four sides of sheared piece.

Features and Benefits of Wire Mesh

Flexibility

This is measured at the joints (intersections) of the wires. Woven wire mesh may have slight to extreme movement at the intersection of the wires. This is more pronounced when the wire diameter is smaller compared to the opening size.

The flexibility of woven wire mesh has advantages in applications where continuous vibrations in an application may break a weld joint or break a wire because of welded wire mesh’s inflexibility. Conversely, because of the welded product’s reduced flexibility, it has advantages in applications with little or no vibration where you need more rigidity, such as a wall panel or window guard.

Integrity of Wire Mesh

Woven wire mesh with larger opening may tend to fall apart or unravel along the edges, especially with cut-to-size pieces. Whereas the welded wire cloth will maintain its shape and integrity even when cut into small pieces. Being mindful of the application and accessory options complimenting the wire mesh product can help in the decision on woven vs. welded.

If the edges will be secured between wood in a cabinet insert application or slotted into U-edging, loose woven ends are not a concern. In some cases the overall thickness of welded wire mesh should be factored in. If it is trimmed with no stubs, the accessory or installation method must account for a thickness that is twice the wire gauge.

Security

In some federal security applications, they require woven wire mesh and do not allow welded mesh. This is because a wire can possibly be pulled off of the side of welded mesh since it is not woven, whereas with woven mesh a wire will be held in place by the weave even if it is broken.

 

Appearance

Depending on the application and the end user’s preference, wire mesh’s appearance can vary greatly. The woven product will have a more uneven surface that is often the look a designer is trying to achieve, while the welded mesh has a flatter, cleaner appearance.

Industries that use Wire Mesh

Distilleries

Electronics

Explosives

Filter Manufacturers

Flour Mills

Food

Foundaries

Medical

Metalworking

Mining – Smelting

Aerospace

Television

Atomic Energy

Appliance

Architecture

Automotive

Cement – Lime

Chemical

Clay – Ceramic

Coal – Coke

Computer

Munitions

Steel Producers

Paper

Petroleum

Pharmaceutical

Plastics

Railroads

Rock – Stone

Rubber

Salt

Sand – Gravel

Seed – Grain

Utilities

Textiles

Conclusion

Wire Mesh is one of the most versatile hole products on the market. It can have such small openings that they are invisible to the naked eye and are impenetrable by water or so large that they don’t even obstruct viewing.
If you are in the market for wire mesh or any other specialty metals, contact McNICHOLS today.

McNICHOLS is the leading supplier of specialty metals (including wire mesh) and fiberglass products in North America. Our dedicated team is ready to serve you from our in-stock inventory or custom product solutions.