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. Both of these aspectsaffect the door’s center of gravity. The good news, though, is that the gate hinge is generally the hardest part. Figuring out what to buy for a gate hinge and the choice of gate locks, latches and wheels will likely follow naturally.
Hinge Selection Basics
The most important consideration when hanging a gate, barn, or carriage house door is the weight, the width and what it is going to attach to (post, wall, door frame, etc.). As the door gets heavier and/or wider, the hinges need to be more substantial. Hinges for doors of this type often carry quite a load.
A basic guideline for buying a gate hinge would be 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 neighbor’s’ 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.
Examples of Hinges for Gates, Barn Doors, and More
The five main types of gate hinges we carry are:
Surface mounted, which includes T-hinges and strap hinges
Spring hinges, either spring butt hinges or double acting spring hinges
Heavy Duty Bolt-on / Weld-on hinges
Pintle Hinges (aka bolt hook & strap hinges)
Butt hinges with dummy straps
Typically, more than one of these types would work for any given gate installation, but each have unique characteristics that may make one specific option a better fit for your gate.
Surface Mounted Hinges
Surface mounted strap hinges are mostly used for light to medium weight gates and barn doors. They are generally easier to install and come in a large variety of decorative styles.
We have one very heavy duty strap hinge that is great for large gates or barn doors. 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.
Spring Hinges (Single Acting or Double Acting)
If your gate swings only in one direction and you want it to be self-closing you can 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. Single acting spring butt hinges can be used with non-spring butt hinges of the same size if less self-closing strength is desired. Another method of achieving a gate that swings both ways is to use a double acting spring hinge. These hinges will close the gate back to its center or closed position.
Heavy Duty Bolt-on / Weld-on Hinges
For large metal gates, our heavy duty bolt-on and/or weld-on hinges are typically the best option. These hinges provide what is typically the highest weight rating- often exceeding numbers of 1000 lb per pair. These types of hinges also tend to be very cost efficient in relation to how strong and long lasting they are. Installation tends to be a bit more involved, so for a DIY homeowner, this option may not be the easiest. Hinges of this type also tend to leave a larger gap between the frame and gate, so these would not be ideal if a more concealed look is desired.Beyond this, these hinges provide very little downside.
Pintle hinges can be used on gates that you want to swing both ways (or gates that you want to swing only one way). This type of hinge can hold a lot of weight for its size. They are also good when you are mounting the gate to a masonry wall. To install 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 feature of this type of gate hinge is that once installed the gate can be removed by lifting it off of the bolt hook.
Butt Hinges with Dummy Straps
One of the best ways to hang a heavy gate, barn door or carriage house door is to use butt hinges and dummy straps. The butt hinges are installed just like the hinges on your front door, however, it is usually not necessary to mortise the hinges. Butt hinges installed this way can hold a lot of weight. Dummy straps can then be installed on the surface of the door to give it the look of an actual 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.
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.