When one is deciding to have a custom driveway gate created for their home or ranch, one decision, in particular, has to be made: Should the gate be constructed of wood or metal? Your decision will depend on several variables including 1) the width of the gate 2) the type of weather the gate will continually be exposed to and 3) how much one is willing to spend. These considerations should be thoughtfully contemplated since a customized gate is not just an item you add to your property—it’s an investment in the first impression your visitors get!
How Wide Will The Gate Be?
The width of your intended gate is very important for one main reason: metal or iron can support their own weight much more so than wood. Structural design is critical for both kinds of gates, but metal will provide more strength over a greater distance. Longer wood gates will have a tendency to compromise their own ability to hold their weight with repeated openings and closings. If the length is too long and wood is used, warping and sagging can be expected after being continuously exposed to the elements in addition to fastener joints that can work their way loose.
There are some solutions if you would prefer a wooden driveway gate, however, when wider dimensions are an issue. If one has a single-car driveway, a double-opening at about 4 or 5 feet in width for the two sides can be designed which will allow a wooden gate to bypass some of its own hindrances.
Metal brackets and cross-bracing becomes necessary with wood materials; and metal bracket plates need to be incorporated in wooden gates that are longer than 5 feet to ensure rigidity of the joints. Metal gate components, on the other hand, are held together with welds, providing far more strength and stability. When it comes to wider designs, such as gates that will need to be 10 feet or more in width, metal or iron is your best choice since metal will assuredly maintain its structural integrity for years to come!
What’s The Weather Like?
Both metal and wooden gates will, due to their natural characteristics, begin to deteriorate if preventative maintenance is ignored. In more humid or rainy environments, metal can rust, especially at any joints or hinges, and/or form colored markings that can leave the metal looking unsightly or even discolor the respective portion of one’s driveway. To successfully counteract this potential issue, metal gates can be shielded with protective sealants and varnishes that work very well.
Wood can also deteriorate, only far more rapidly than metal. Wetter environments, even simple humidity, must be counteracted with specialized sealants to avoid the possibility of expected contraction and expansion of wooden materials. Hinges and gate pickets can suffer warpage; and wood-rot can set in with any wood left unprotected. Even with protection, however, metal gates would be a more lasting choice in those environments where continuous moisture cannot be avoided.
Our shop is in Texas and the heat here is harsh on wood. If you want some wood in your gate to compliment the rustic style of your home or ranch, we recommend adding it as more of an accent rather than part of the structural design. It is a lower maintenance option. Wood needs to be resealed, stained or painted every 5-7 years and maybe even more frequent depending on your area. The wood featured in the gates below are not part of the structural design.
Best of Both Worlds
Another way we are helping our clients balance the desire to have the look of a wooden gate with the low-maintenance feature of a metal gate is by faux-wood-grain painting our metal gates. We have done this with both our steel and aluminum gates. You can go to Home Depot or Lowes and select the wood grain look you prefer and take the swatch you bring us and create a faux-wood grain pattern to match it. Here are is an example of a gate we faux-wood-grain painted to match the swatch our client brought us.
What’s In Your Wallet?
One might guess that metal gates will cost more than wood. Like most things, that will depend on the quality of wood, the design and the craftsman or artist you have building your gate. There are too many factors to say either way. But, one will receive what one is willing or able to pay. Most of the time, quality and price go hand in hand.
If set on going with wood, this short article about selecting long-lasting wood is a quick and easy read.
If you are considering a less customized or more stock style of gate, it is likely that there will be a price advantage for selecting a wooden gate. However, you will likely be trading price for higher maintenance and a shorter life span. Our gates are highly customized. We don’t deal in stock or commodity types of gates so that is not an issue when you work with us.
Check out more of our gates in our gate gallery. We’d love to see pictures of the kind of gate you are wanting to design, so please contact us or share links to your ideas in the comments below. We love hearing from you.