Trying to outfit your gate with a hinge, lock, latch; and perhaps a gate wheel? Gauging the size and strength of a gate hinge can be a daunting task, since you have to consider both the weight of the gate door and its width, which affects the door’s center of gravity. The good news, though, is that the gate hinge is generally the hardest part. Figure out what to buy for a gate hinge and the choice of gate locks, latches and wheels will likely follow naturally.
Some basic guidelines for buying a gate hinge: a gate door that is 5 feet high, 3 feet wide and 55 pounds would be considered an average size door, while one that is 6 feet high, 4 feet wide and 132 pounds would be considered heavy. Some hinge manufacturers also publish guidelines as to which of their gate hinges to buy. A good piece of advice, though, is just to use your eyes and common sense. Take a look at your neighbors’ gate doors and the size of their hinges. If the gate door is sagging or doesn’t swing open easily, chances are they don’t have big enough hinges.
One type of gate hinge that is appropriate for light to average gates is the surface-mounted strap hinge. It is easier to install that full-mortise hinges (which much be recessed into the gate frame and door), and comes in many decorative varieties.
The same strap hinge effect can be achieved on heavier doors by using butt hinges and dummy straps. The butt hinges are installed just like the hinges on your front door (it is usually not necessary to mortise the hinges). The dummy straps are installed on the surface of the door to give it the look of a strap hinge. You can use 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″, 5″ x 5″, or 6″ x 6″ butt hinges depending on the size of your door and what it is mounted to. If you order prime coated butt hinges they can easily be spray painted black to match the dummy straps. It is a good idea to use the largest size hinge that will fit and at least 3 hinges.
Strap hinges also come attached to bolt hooks (or screw hooks), which give you more control over a door’s range of motion. Bolt hooks and strap hinges can be used to make even heavy gate doors swing in one direction, or both. A nice feature of this hinge is that once installed, the gate can be removed by lifting it off of the bolt hook without having to remove all the hardware. This hook and hinge combination is also good when you are mounting a gate to a masonry wall since it can give your gate door the strong, deep attachment that is necessary to its stability. To install a bolt hook in a masonry wall, drill the proper size hole, insert a lag anchor in the hole and screw the bolt hook into the lag anchor.
Another method of achieving a gate that swings both ways is to use a double acting spring hinge. Unlike the free swing a strap hinge will give your gate door, these hinges will close the gate back to its center or closed position.
Spring hinges can also make your gate door self-closing while swinging in only one direction. For this effect, use a single acting spring butt hinge. Depending on the size and weight of the gate you would use one or more spring butt hinges.
For the biggest and heaviest of gate doors, we have one very heavy duty strap hinge that can handle such jobs. It comes in 19″, 24″ and 36″ lengths. An advantage of this type of hinge is that the strap part of the hinge can be “through-bolted” with nuts and washers which will help to strengthen the gate or barn door. Click here to view strap hinges on the HardwareSource.com website.
Now that you’ve chosen your gate hinge, what’s next? One piece of gate hardware to consider, particularly for a wide gate, is a gate wheel. The gate wheel fits under the unhinged end of the gate, helping to support it. A gate wheel won’t necessarily compensate for the wrong hinge choice, but it may help your gate hinges last longer by imposing less stress on them.
Besides making sure your gate door swings open well, chances are you’d like to make sure it stays shut, too. Gate latches can help keep your gate door in place. The choice of hardware is usually driven by the finish and style you’ve chosen for your hinge; no weight or width considerations here. The most common material for all types of gate hardware is steel plated with zinc chromate to help it resist corrosion. You may choose a finish, like wrought iron, or decide to paint your gate hinge and gate latch.
A popular type of gate lock for double doors is the Cane bolt. Installing a Cane bolt at the bottom of one door will help hold it in place so that the other side can lock against it.
Swimming pool owners have special security considerations when looking for gate hinges and latches. Many communities require that pool gates be childproof. Two of the key components of a childproof gate are 1) that it is self-closing (likely using a spring hinge) and 2) that the latch is too high for a child to reach. HardwareSource.com carries several varieties of swimming pool latches, but make sure to check with your local authorities about exact specifications before buying.