Gates are essential parts of any fence, and having a gate that never stays shut, slips out of alignment or sags down and drags along the ground can be extremely frustrating. Good gate hardware prevents these problems, and it can make your gates and fence look good to boot. Latches, handles, bolts, pulls and more are needed for proper gate operation, and making sure you have all the pieces correctly installed in the right place is essential. Installing gate hardware is a simple job for an experienced do-it-yourselfer, and even novice home-improvers should be able to tackle the task. Use the following questions to focus your search for the right parts:
• What types of gate hardware will you need?
• How do the different types function?
• What tools will you need for installation?
• What materials can gate hardware be made of?
• What special features would you like to have?
Types of Hardware, Sagging and Installation Considerations
Gate hardware serves two primary purposes, to provide functionality or serve as a decorative adornment. Some parts, such as ornamental spring T-hinges, combine the two and manage to look great while performing a necessary task. In addition to opening and closing, gate hardware can also be used to fix and prevent sagging. Installing your new hardware can be done with tools that you probably already have in your toolbox, so most upgrades and installations are quick and simple.
Types of Hardware: The primary types of hardware you’ll need for your gate are latches, hinges, handles, bolts, rods and strikes. Sliding gates will require wheels, and maintaining them is slightly more time consuming than working with swinging gates. Latches may be self-closing and can often be installed on both the left and right side of a gate. Some allow you to insert a padlock for added security. Hinges can also be installed on either side and may include a spring that automatically closes the gate. Handles, or pulls, range from simple to elaborate and ornate. Bolts and rods are used to secure doors in place and, in many cases, may be used with doors that swing both inward and outward. Strikes are available in a few different varieties. Gate hardware is made from a range of materials, including stainless steel, wrought iron, aluminum, bronze, black iron, copper, brass and more. The chart below details the different types of gate hardware that are available.
|Bolts and Rods||Secure gate when closed to prevent it from opening.||• Cane bolts
• Slide bolts
• Dead bolts
• Anchor rods
|Handles||Used to pull gate open.||• Pull
|Hinges||Connect to post and allow door to swing.||• T-hinge
• Band hinge
• Strap hinge
• Butterfly hinge
|Latches||Keep gate closed when not in use.||• Cott latch
• Door latch
• Thumb latch
• Bolt latch
|Strikes||The point where the latch strikes the gate post.||• Offset latch with box
• Rim and mortise box
• Straight latch with flat strike
Sagging: You may not notice it initially, but many gates can start to sag over time. If you’re not wary, you may find yourself reaching for the handle, expecting the gate to swing open smoothly like it usually does, and instead end up engaging in a tug-o-war as the bottom of the gate drags and digs into the ground beneath it. While it’s best to prevent this damage before it begins, sagging doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to install a new gate. An anti-sag kit is a preventative measure and cure rolled into one. Anti-sag devices consist of two brackets mounted at diagonal points across a gate and connected by a cable. Look for a kit that contains zinc-plated parts to prevent rust. Toe blocks are another method that can be used to prevent sagging.
• Anti-sag kits come with cable, mounting brackets, turnbuckle and screws
• Place blocks underneath the gate to prop it up while you install your anti-sag unit
• Open and close the gate a few times immediately after installation to make sure it’s working smoothly
• Toe blocks are small wooden blocks that are secured to the ground beneath the unhinged end of the gate
to prevent the gate from sagging
Installation Considerations: Installing gate hardware is a pretty straightforward task that requires only a few simple tools. In most cases, you should be able to get the job done with a hacksaw, clamp, cordless drill, wrench, pliers, screwdriver and a few other odds and ends. Make sure you install hardware that increases safety, such as an automatic spring or latch that accepts a padlock, if you’re working on a gate that leads to a pool.
• If you have a wooden gate and the wood is too rotten to drill into, it’s time to install a new gate
• You’ll need a drill, wood blocks, screwdriver and adjustable wrench to install an anti-sag kit
• Make sure hinges allow the door to swing smoothly and quietly once they’re installed
Rust-Resistant Finish: Depending upon what type of climate you live in, your gate may be subjected to all sorts of weather, including rain, sleet, snow and ice. A rusty hinge can make it tough for a gate to swing open, and no one wants bits of rust flaking off in their hand when they grab the handle. Choose gate hardware that features a rust-resistant finish to protect it from the elements. Fade-resistant finishes are available as well and are particularly desirable on ornamental pieces.
Child-Resistant Latch: If you have small children, look for a latch that’s designed to be tricky for little fingers to open. This is especially important if the gate opens into a pool area. Another option is to add a second latch high up on the gate out of the reach of young children. Even if they manage to get the lower latch open, they won’t be able to reach up high enough to get to the other one.
Return Spring: Return springs close doors automatically, saving you from having to remember to do it every time. Many of them feature adjustable torque.