Tips and Guides For Your Gates
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Published by TOP4 Team
Gates can mark the entrance to your property, deter prowlers from entering your back garden or keep children in and stray animals out. They come in a wide range of styles, materials and sizes, ranging from a low barrier set in a front fence to imposing entrance gates, often hung in pairs, for vehicles. The most popular material is without doubt timber, and the gate is often made to match the style of any adjacent fencing.
The most important part of any gate is the gate posts, which must be strong enough to carry the gate’s weight without allowing it to sag. You can hang your gate from timber posts, often available from the gate supplier, or you can build more permanent brick piers at each side of the opening.
You are likely to choose a gate for one of three positions: as a pedestrian entrance gate at the front of your property, as a side gate to bar access round the house to the back garden, or as a vehicle entrance to a driveway.
Most wooden gates are made of softwood - usually larch - which has been pretreated with preservative to keep rot at bay. More expensive gates in woods like oak and cedar have better resistance to rot and insect attack, but are more expensive. Timber gate posts are also either preservative-treated softwood or oak (the latter are preferable, though they cost more).
Good foundations are essential to keep gate posts upright and secure, or to support brick piers. It is best to set posts for side and narrow entrance gates in a continuous foundation, with the concrete securing the two posts linked by a strip concrete about 200mm (8in) thick across the opening. This prevents the hinge post from being pulled inward by the gate’s movement.
Hanging A Gate
The most important stage is working out how far apart the posts should be, and to do this you should lay the gate and the posts flat on the ground. Then lay the hinges and catch in position, and adjust the gap between gate and posts to give adequate clearance. Check with a tape measure to ensure that the posts are parallel, and then pin three battens to the posts to hold them the right distance apart.
Next, mark the gate post positions on the ground, and dig out a hole for each post about 50mm (2in) more than the required depth. Link the two holes with a trench about 200mm (8in) deep if the posts are 1m or less apart. Lay some gravel or well-broken hardcore in the base of each hole and set the linked posts in place. Tap them down until the depth marks coincide with ground level; then pin angled struts to each post to hold it precisely vertical, by checking with your spirit level.
You can now pack in more hardcore to within about 150mm (6 in) of the surface, and pour in the concrete. Tamp this down well to form a collar round the posts, taking care not to knock them off line, and slope the surface away from the post face to aid drainage. Then lay more concrete in the trench between the post holes to consolidate the whole setting.
Prop the gate between the posts on bricks or timber offcuts, and use timber wedges to center it between them. For flush hinges, set the gate’s inner face flush with the rear of the posts; for pintype fittings, center the gate between the front and rear faces of the posts. Now hold each fitting in place against the gate and mark the positions of the fixing screws. Most gates are hung with tee or reversible hinges; make sure that the strap of the hinge is centered on the gate’s horizontal rails, and if the gate has a diagonal brace make sure that it runs up from the hinged edge, not down towards it.
Heavy, wide timber gates are usually hung on strap hinges and suspended from pins that are bolted through the post for extra strength. Fit the pins to the posts first, then prop up the gate so you can mark the strap positions. You can add a range of ‘optional extras’ to your gate to make it more convenient to use. These include self-closing springs and automatic latches, hold-backs and bolts for additional security.