When you decide to have a new fence installed at your home, one thing that you will have to consider is your need for gates.
A gate is a moveable section of fence that swings, slides, or rolls to create an opening to allow for entry and exit. Gates can be installed with hinges to allow the gate door to swing open inward or outward or can be attached to a track to allow for sliding. The different options for gate designs include decorative gates, driveway gates, security gates, and privacy gates. There are countless options for gates and knowing what type of material you plan to use is a great starting point.
Wood fences are likely still the most common fence materials used in residential areas. Due to the weight of wood, wooden privacy gates can tend to lean or sag over time. It is important to choose the proper gate style and materials to use for your application. If you opt to have a wooden swing gate installed, it is highly recommended that you consider additional support to help prevent issues with your gate over time. Some things you can do to help increase the sturdiness of your swing gate are listed below.
- Upgrade your gate posts. Typically, 4×4 posts are used during the construction of your wood fence. Upgrading your gate posts to a 4×6, or even better, a 6×6, will help support the weight of the wooden gate. Even when opting for a gate made of a different material, such as aluminum, vinyl, or chain link, your gate post should still be more heavy-duty than the rest of the fence posts. Aluminum and chain link gate posts have thicker metal walls to create a more substantial gate post that will keep the hinges intact through constant use. Vinyl swing gates should have a metal insert in the gate post. This metal insert adds stability and gives something for the hinges to grip when attaching the gate hinges to the post.
- Use the right hinges. There are countless hinges available for purchase, so how do you know what is designed to last? We recommend using heavy-duty strapping hinges when possible. The long leaves on a strapping hinge provide extra stability in heavy-duty applications.
3. Upgrade to a metal gate frame. When properly constructed, a wood gate with a metal frame will support the gate’s weight. However, upgrading the gate framing to a welded steel frame will create additional support. Going with a metal gate frame will also help combat common gate problems related to warping and twisting lumber. This is especially helpful when you have a gate door larger than the standard 4ft width.
4. Avoid panel-matching decorative wood gates. Custom-built decorative wood fences, such as a cap & trim or a lattice top fence style, are a great way of adding a beautiful design feature to your property. One way to ensure your gate lasts as long as possible is to avoid building the gate door to match the rest of the fence. As mentioned earlier, wood gates are extremely heavy; the more lumber used on your gate, the heavier it will be. If you have a decorative wood fence with cap & trim built at your home, building your gate to match the cap & trim at the top will make the gate heavier. It would help if you considered using an arch-top design to keep your gate lasting as long as possible. This allows you to keep the decorative design elements while avoiding adding unnecessary weight and strain to the gate door.
An alternative to a traditional swing gate would be a sliding gate assembled on a track. Remember, to have a gate installed on a track, you will need the appropriate clearance to slide into a fully open position. There are several sliding gate options, including v-track gates and cantilever gates.
A sliding gate is mounted parallel to the inside of the fence and slides horizontally back and forth across the gate opening. The slide gate uses rollers or wheels on the bottom of the gate to support it. These rollers typically ride along a metal track, or v-track, installed along the ground across the gate opening. V-tracks require a paved flat surface to function and often can be blocked by debris such as rocks, branches, or snow, causing problems with the gate functionality. Alternatively, it is recommended to use a pneumatic wheel to guide the gate across uneven terrain.
It is important to note that cantilever gates do not have a wheel that guides the bottom of the gate along the ground. Therefore, cantilever gates require a counterbalance to support the weight of the gate. The counterbalance should be approximately ½ the length of the gate opening. You need even more clearance when going with a cantilever gate.
Decorative Estate Gates and Arch Top Gate Designs
Aluminum gates offer great options to add some design elements to your property. Beautiful and relatively light weight, aluminum gates can be used for just about every application and look good when installed with other styles of fences, such as wood privacy fences and vinyl privacy fences. Whether you are going for aesthetics or security, aluminum comes in many grades, thicknesses, finishes, and styles to fit every taste or budget.
Aluminum or wrought iron estate gates are among the most common types of gates used for driveway entrances. With a continuous arch top or a swooping estate top style, it is easy to add curb appeal to the front of your home. You can get these gates made big enough to span the width of your driveway with either a single gate or double door gate.
Arch top designs are available in single door walk gates as well. Opting for an arch top walk gate is a great way to make your fence stand out from the rest. If you have a paved walkway or strategically placed gardening, a arch top walk gate is a perfect way to compliment your space.
There are many ways to customize your gate to fit your need. If you have an aluminum fence that needs to be pool code compliant, you may be required to have a top pull magna latch. If you have a vinyl privacy fence and are looking for a way to secure the yard with a keyed entry, a lokk latch might be exactly what you are looking for. The options to swap our hardware are seemingly limitless, consult with a Big Jerry’s Fencing professional to discuss options for upgrading your latch or hinge hardware.