Hardware cloth is a type of wire mesh that is welded and galvanized. Also known as galvanized wire mesh or woven wire mesh, hardware cloth is used in a variety of industrial, agricultural and residential uses. Products such as animal cages, fences, traps, strainers and filter screens, industrial sifters and sieves, guard barriers and more are commonly made from hardware cloth.
Hardware cloth is part of the production of screens for vents, louvers, spark arrestors, finger guards, baskets, racks, trays, dehydrators and sheet metal and can be used in construction for concrete reinforcement. Hardware cloth needs to be sturdy and durable and so is made from high strength metals such as steel, iron, stainless steel or aluminum. Galvanized hardware cloth is an economical choice for a rust and corrosion-resistant screen that will not oxidize, especially for applications in which the higher costs of stainless steel mesh are not cost-efficient.
Galvanizing wire increases both its strength and its resistance to rust, temperature changes and elements of weather. Hardware cloth is usually large gauge and between .25 and .5 inches thick in diameter. However, it can be found in finer gauges for applications which do no require sturdiness as a physical property.
Different weave patterns are available for hardware cloth including square mesh, which may be plain or twilled, plain Dutch weave, a dense weave where the warp (vertical) wires are larger than the shute (horizontal), and reverse plain weave, where the shute wires are larger than the warp. Plain square weave is the most commonly manufactured type of woven wire mesh or wire cloth as it is extremely versatile and can be fabricated into many different shapes and sizes. During the fabrication process, metal wire is either woven or welded together.
Different mesh counts, which are the number of openings per linear inch, and wire diameters or gauges are used for certain kinds of hardware cloth and will be chosen based on the application for which the cloth is intended. Each piece of wire, made of stainless steel, steel, brass or aluminum, is welded together to increase strength and stabilize the crossover points. This also prevents the cloth from unraveling when it is being cut as it is most often stored and transported in rolls. Wire cloth is then galvanized by either hot dipping or by an electrolytic process in order to cover the molten wire in zinc to increase its strength and corrosion resistance. This protects the mesh from corrosion and deterioration over time.
Hardware Cloth Informational Video