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Welded wire mesh is a type of metal screening that is most often used in concrete construction. Certain types of steel are used to make the welded wire mesh, which often can be purchased in large rolls and then clipped to a specific size. When concrete is poured, a reinforcing material must be used to enhance the strength and durability of the setting concrete. Metal rebar has been used for such purposes in the past, but using welded wire mesh cuts down on time and cost, as well as installation efforts. It is inexpensive and easy to cut to length and work into place.
Only certain types of steel can be used to make welded wire mesh. Low-carbon steel or stainless steel are most commonly used to make this product, since these types of steel tend to be resistant to water damage and corrosion. Steel is used because it is inexpensive and easy to bend, cut, and otherwise work into position. Vertical strips of steel are laid first, then horizontal strips of steel are lain across the vertical ones, and they are welded into place, usually by a machine that can make a precision weld quickly and efficiently.
When used for concrete applications, the welded wire mesh is put into place before the concrete is poured, and it is held off the ground by plastic feet so the welded wire mesh will sit in the middle of the setting concrete rather than at the top or bottom. Once the concrete sets, the welded wire mesh provides extra strength to the brittle concrete — a material with low tensile strength — that has a tendency to crack or crumble without this internal reinforcement. The wire can be cut to specific sizes to fit the shape of the concrete slab being poured.
Plenty of other applications exist for welded wire mesh. It is sometimes used in gardens, yards, and farms for both decorative purposes and more utilitarian purposes. It makes good fencing to protect a garden from animals that would otherwise eat crops, and it can be nailed or screwed down to floors or ramps to aid in traction. It can be used to line stalls in a barn to keep hay in place, and it can be used to build temporary storage structures as well. If the mesh is coated with PVC, it can be used for more decorative fences in parks, neighborhoods, and so on.
Interestingly, when John Perry first invented the machine that could weld wires together to create welded wire mesh, it was intended for use as fence material. But it was just a few years later in 1908 that it was being used to reinforce the concrete in the Long Island Parkway. It wasn't until many years later that the material began becoming popular for use as fencing material, initially in Europe.
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