Building iron gates is our way of putting art into the world. The finish is the final brush stroke. To set our gates apart, we have invested in high-quality, custom gate finishes that enhance and augment our art. There are three basic types for iron gates:
- Powder coating
While powder coating has its place, it is not our finish of choice. We do use it on occasion, but it is not the only finish that will protect metal outdoors. In fact, high-quality paint that is applied correctly can protect your gate just as well.
You can read more of our opinion in this article on powder coating vs painting. Here, I’ll focus on discussing our preferred finishing techniques.
What color should you paint your gate? The options are endless, and color is an important decision for your gate. It is part of the style and look you are trying to achieve. There is also a psychology to it.
We’re excited about what we have learned to do with color and paint. Especially the beautiful creations that can be achieved using faux-painting techniques. Those are yielding so many exciting options for our art.
In 2018, Cindi and Mark Conklin asked us to build a gate for them. They sent us a picture of a wood gate with black brackets that they wanted us to duplicate.
Since we don’t build wooden gates, Jeffery told them we would create a steel gate that was faux-wood painted to look like their picture. He assured them it would be no problem, and it would look exactly like the picture (or better).
The only issue was that he’d never done this before. He just knew it could be done. What excited him, stressed me. More marital bliss at work.
As we were getting to the end of fabricating the gate, he found he had more questions than answers about how to faux-paint the steel to achieve the look he wanted as well as be long lasting. Because we’ve admired the gates built by Stratford Gate Systems Inc. in Oregon for many years, Jeffery called the owner, Robert Rayson, to see if he wouldn’t mind giving us some advice.
Rayson agreed to help so long as Jeffery would join him for Hebo Fest, which is an gathering they host of Hebo machine owners for training and networking. The event was only a few days away when we heard about it, but Jeffery booked a plane ticket within hours of Rayson’s offer.
We were so grateful for this opportunity. Rayson’s team graciously answered all of Jeffery’s questions and then some about faux painting.
When he got back to Texas, Jeffery got busy putting what he learned to work. He soon found that no matter how many questions he asked his colleagues or YouTube videos he watched, he still had to develop his own skills for this art form. That’s why the faux-painting Jeffery does has a unique look.
“Will it last?”
This is the most common question everyone asks. The high-quality paint we use should last over 10 years. After that, it will just look like faded wood. On the other hand, wood should be stained, sealed and or painted every 5-7 years.
Here is the Conklin’s gate in 2020. There is no visible change. I think it looks better than a wood gate would after a couple of years!
We’ve gotten to know the folks at Sherwin Williams stores in Weatherford and Mineral Wells rather well. They tell us that we’ve really pushed them with our questions to make sure we use the best and longest lasting products for our application.
When painting these faux-wood-grain gate designs, we use a high-quality, industrial-grade, water-based paint over a complimentary primer. And before you turn your nose up at the idea of using water-based paint, know that many car manufacturers are using waterborne paint instead of solvent.
It is a pleasure to work with. And, it is worth mentioning these days that it is more environmentally friendly.
Our Faux-Painting Today
Check out the designs we’ve worked with our clients to design+build. Each one was created to beautifully enhance their property entrance.
Besides the faux-wood, Jeffery has started creating other faux-painted looks as well. One example is this set of double-sliding, estate gates that Melissa and Kenneth Golden had us design for them. They wanted an old-world look to their gate to match the lamps Melissa selected.
Another faux-paint variation is this aluminum ranch gate that we shipped to Georgia. It included inserts that we painted to look like knotty cedar boards. Additionally, Jeffery painted the frame and added a metallic copper color to it to give it a rubbed bronze appearance. It was not easy. It took him several attempts to get just the right look. We’re sure proud of the way it turned out.
Patinas are another custom iron gate finish option. We’ve not done many patinas yet, but that is only because no one has asked Jeffery to do them! The artist in him loves the challenge, so we’ll likely lose money on the first one. He’ll work on it until he is proud of it.
I shouldn’t make it sound like patinas are completely foreign to us because we have done rust patinas for several clients. Here are some examples:
We just recently learned more about the wide-wide world of patinas at MetalFab, which is our annual trade association event. When we stopped by the Architectural Iron Design, Inc. booth, I picked up the Sculpt Nouveau booklet. This little book has links to all sorts of great You-Tube videos like this rainbow steel technique.
The possibilities are mind boggling. I’m hoping someone has some interest in doing colored patinas on a custom driveway gate with us soon.
A Colleague’s Example
Our friend, Dennis Dodson, is the owner/operator of The Shop, which is a welding and metal fabrication business in Poolville, Texas. He has done several beautiful projects with patinas.
Occasionally, Dennis stops by our shop to visit. It is never a short visit with Dennis! When we see him walking up, we know that the next few hours won’t be spent on what we’d planned. Even so, we immensely enjoy the visits and always learn something from him.
The last time he stopped in, he shared some pictures with us of his patinas on a real estate development sign he created. I was blown away with the way he made the letters look like real copper as well as with the rich blue patina he used on the river. This really shows off Dennis’ artistic talent and some of the possibilities there are with patinas.
While the finish on your custom gate cannot make up for a bad design or poor craftsmanship, it can augment the art. Even a plain design can become artwork with the plethora of finishing options available.
On the other hand, a bad finish can distract, damage or even ruin the appearance of a gate. Great care should be taken on the final stage of your gate design.
We believe your gate is a piece of art that you have consigned us to build. It is the first impression of your property and your new front door. We will not skimp on the finish.
“The primal artistic act was God’s creation of the universe out of chaos shaping the formless into form; and every artist since, on a lesser scale, has sought to imitate him.” – Laurence Perrine
Would you choose to powder coat, paint or patina your gate?
If you have more questions or need more help designing and building your custom driveway gate, here is our comprehensive checklist to help you cover all your bases.