Whether for decoration or security purposes, wooden gates are a durable, sturdy, and beautiful way to enclose a driveway, a lawn, a garden, or any other outdoor area that one would like to be able to open and close. Depending whether the buyer intends to use it as an entrance gate, a field gate, or a simple decoration, there are a few useful considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a wooden gate. The most important factors to take into account are rain, sunshine, and overall sturdiness. Most gates are exposed to harsh weather, and are expected to withstand several thousand openings and closings over the course of their lifetime. This guide will provide an outline of the most common types of wooden gates available, and offer a few points to take into account when choosing one.
Why a Gate?
Walking around town, or in the countryside for that matter, one is easily struck by how “gated” the world is. People have gates in front of their driveways, leading into their gardens, and to section off their fields. Originally, gates were used as a security measure to keep uninvited animals and people out of, or contained within, certain areas. Many homeowners have a gate leading onto their lawn to prevent children or pets from running out into traffic. Almost equally as common now, however, is to use gates purely ornamentally. The rustic atmosphere of a summer house can be accentuated by installing a delicately carved wooden gate. It may not be effective at keeping intruders out, but it is lovely to look at.
Why a Wooden Gate?
Wood is an excellent gate material, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also since it is extremely durable. Wood occurs naturally on Earth, and is one of the planet’s most flexible and useful resources. Trees must withstand shifting weather conditions, temperature changes, and overall climate developments, sometimes for hundreds of years. In spite of this amazing toughness, wood is also a highly moldable material when treated in the right way, and can be used to craft everything from the tiniest butter knife, to the largest mansion. For these reasons, wood is ideal for use as the primary material in gates of all types. Unlike iron gates, wooden gates can be built either as “fully boarded” or “open boarded.” Whether to craft a sturdy driveway gate or a decorative gate to match the picket fence, wood can do the job.
Types of Wooden Gates
There are many types of wooden gates to choose from. This section outlines the most common types of wooden gate, and a few considerations to take into account for each.
Wooden Entrance Gates
Particularly in bigger towns and cities, where the houses are built close to each other, most people like to have a gate leading into the house. This often serves a security purpose, in that it keeps out uninvited guests and prevents passers-by and neighbours from getting close enough to peek in at one’s private life. At the same time, the entrance gate fulfills an aesthetic purpose, and can add an extra dimension to the overall experience of the house.
Wooden Entrance Gate Considerations
- When choosing a wooden entrance gate, it is useful to keep the following pointers in mind:
- If the gate is primarily a security measure, make sure it is high enough to keep potential intruders from climbing over it.
- Consider getting a gate that can be mechanically or electronically locked.
- If the gate is intended to prevent passers-by from looking in, it should be fully boarded.
- Since the entrance gate is the first thing that meets the eye, most people choose one that matches the overall style of their house. An open boarded gate arguably looks more inviting than a fully boarded gate, and where security and integrity are not pressing issues, this may be worth considering.
Wooden Driveway Gates
Driveway gates serve much the same purpose as entrance gates. They are used primarily to protect the cars in the driveway and the stuff in the garage.
Wooden Driveway Gate Considerations
Anyone thinking of installing a driveway gate will find it useful to consider the following:
- Since the driveway gate is opened and closed every day, at least once in the morning, and once at night, it is important that this can be done smoothly. There are many solutions to choose from, including double gates that slide open in opposite directions, or single gates that slide either right or left. Preferably, one should not have to wait too long in the car for the gate to open.
- Since driveway gates are usually entered using the car, it may be wise to install an automated opening/closing system, to avoid having to get out of the car every time. Available solutions include button- or code-operated remotes, and gates that open automatically using motion sensors.
Wooden Garden Gates
Unlike entrance and driveway gates, garden gates are used primarily as decoration. Of course, garden gates can also be effective at keeping larger animals from entering the vegetable plot, or preventing toddlers from running out in the street, but usually they are designed to provide a decorative and inviting entrance to the garden.
Wooden Garden Gate Considerations
- Many people like to have a low garden gate, so that it does not obscure the view or throw shade on the garden. The garden is a place for play, socializing, and pleasure, so the garden gate should be inviting rather than forbidding in its design.
- For the same reason, garden gates are usually open-boarded, to let in light and allow people to see through it.
- The great thing about wooden garden gates is that there are almost endless opportunities for customization. Buyers can purchase or order almost any imaginable pattern.
- If the garden gate will also be used to prevent children from running out in the street, it might be a good idea to install a padlock or other locking mechanism.
Wooden Five Bar Gates / Field Gates
The five bar gate (or field gate) is perfect for the countryside. It is the archetypical gate, used for containing farm animals and marking out one’s land. Five bar gates are sturdy and robust, yet very simple. Though their main purpose is functional, field gates have a rustic character that make them interesting as potential entrance gates or garden gates as well, particularly for country homes.
Wooden Five Bar Gate / Field Gate Considerations
- When used as a gate to contain farm animals in a field, it is important to check that the five bar gate is properly constructed to prevent animals from escaping.
- Since field gates are usually more exposed to extreme weather conditions, it is even more important to use durable high-quality wood. Aesthetics are usually secondary, if a consideration at all, in farming contexts.
Wooden Gates: Water, Sunshine, and Sturdiness
In addition to the gate-specific considerations outlined above, there are three additional factors to take into account when purchasing a wooden gate. The first two are water and sunshine, the third is sturdiness.
Wooden Gates: Water and Sunshine
Many wooden gates are exposed to large amounts of rain water. Because of this, it is important that the wood be treated with a finish to prevent swelling, moulding, and decay. Gates that are exposed to much rain can also benefit if the water is provided a pathway off the wood (e.g. slightly tilting the wood). In a sunny climate, it might be worthwhile to get a gate treated with a UV filter. Most of the time, gates should be retreated after a year or two.
Wooden Gates and Sturdiness
Gates are usually installed once, and are then expected to stay put for several years. Sturdiness is therefore the third factor to keep in mind. To ensure that the gate is sturdy enough before buying, it is wise to check that the pieces look straight and intact, and that the joints between the different parts seem strong. Also, it is important that all the components and fixings necessary to properly install the gate are included, or can be easily acquired. For a gate to do its job properly, it must be wedged and morticed thoroughly.
Being the durable, sturdy, and beautiful material it is, wood is ideal for use as the primary component in gates. Driveways and entrances that need to be protected from potential intruders can be effectively secured using fully boarded wooden gates, perhaps with an automated opening and closing system. But wooden gates are also very nice as the ornate entrance to a dazzling garden, or as a natural barrier that keeps farm animals from drifting away from the field. Regardless of which type of wooden gate one wants, there are a few things that should be kept in mind when buying one. These include such factors as height, the ability to see through it, whether to install a lock, etc. Rain, sunshine, and overall sturdiness are additional parameters to factor in when getting a wooden gate. While larger gate solutions such as entrance and driveway gates usually need to be ordered from a provider that can take the correct measurements and provide a custom solution, simpler wooden gates.