What is chicken wire? Chicken wire, also called poultry netting, is a mesh of thin, flexible galvanized wire with hexagonal gaps [Wikipedia]. The wire is woven together by a massive loom called a Gambion machine, which makes oddly musical, hypnotically rhythmic sounds as it weave its magic.
What are some of the cool properties of chicken wire? It can stop lightning! Chicken wire enclosures can act as a “virtual force field,” forming what physicist call a Faraday cage or shield, which can block lightning strikes as well as other electromagnetic discharges.
As it turns out, the conductive properties of galvanized chicken wire — together with its unique polycyclic (meaning lots of holes) hexagonal structure — enables electrical charges within the mesh to blunt incoming electrical waves and signals.
If you’re living in an older home where chicken wire was used to reinforce plaster walls, the Faraday shield effect means the force will not be with you in your quest for optimal cellular or Wi-Fi reception.
How is chicken wire used? In addition to being an inexpensive fencing product for containing poultry and other small animals, chicken wire is also used to make ferrocement, a type of concrete reinforced with chicken wire.
What can you use chicken wire for? Thinking of doing a little urban farming? A chicken wire fence can help keep pests out of your prize-winning garden – and you can use the leftover mesh to construct a compost bin. If you don’t have enough space for a full-on garden, chicken wire is a great material to use in constructing a trellis for your vertical garden.
Crave farm fresh eggs for breakfast? Buy some wood and chicken wire and build yourself a backyard chicken coop (chickens come separately).
You can also use chicken wire to make DIY gutter guards, to plug gaps in an attic to prevent squirrels and other uninvited critters from entering your home, or to build an awesome paper maché float for the Homecoming parade.
Here are a few more interesting things you can also do with chicken wire:
Show off your cagey, crafty DIY talents.
Valentine’s Day is for DIYers, too. Hearts made from chicken wire says your love knows no bounds (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
John Lennon probably never imagined he’d be immortalized in chicken wire. Sculptures by this British-born artist Ivan Lovatt range from $3,000 to $18,000 per piece.
Upcycle your personal style with a vintage cabinet door repurposed as an accessories organizer.
[Editor's Note: Meet the Material is a series designed to introduce you to some of the everyday goods sold at The Home Depot. Is there a material you'd like to know more about? Just let us know in the comments!]