From the category archives:

Fence Material

Gate hinges can be likened to the weakest link in a chain, where the gate is the chain and the hinge is the link. Hinges might seem like small and insignificant elements, but they’re what keep gate panels in place, so it’s important to give them serious consideration.

Like other aspects of gate hardware, a hinge can be decorative or purely functional. A butt hinge is the simplest, most commonly installed type. These consists of two evenly sized leaves joined by a pin. Unlike more ornamental types, butt hinges aren’t handed, which is to say they’re not designed for mounting exclusively in one direction. Many hinges require that one plate is attached to the gate, and the other to the post; and the arrangement cannot be reversed.

An alternative that’s better suited to gates than doors is a strap hinge, which can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. The latter version has one leaf in a half-diamond shape, which is attached to the gate panel. The other leaf is in a truncated rectangular shape like that of a butt hinge. These are sometimes referred to as T-hinges or tee hinges, especially when their pivot pin is considerably wider than the strap. These are particularly ideal for garden gates. A tee hing ranges between 4 and 10 inches, with its length determined by the size and weight of the gate. Unlike a butt hinge, whose leaves often need to be drilled for screw holes just prior to mounting, a T-hinge typically comes with screw holes already drilled.

The simplest, most utilitarian versions are plainly designed, made with galvanized or plated steel. Decorative wrought iron strap hinges can cost several times as much, but they’re often worth it since plain versions can stick out like sore thumb on gates made of wood, or ones with a powder coat finish. But iron gate hinges aren’t the only option if you’re looking for ornamental touches. Black coated aluminum and stainless steel hinges can often be purchased for under $10.

Among heavy duty gate hinge products, a barrel hinge is recommended if the width-to-height ratio between the panel and post is less than one. Wider panels create too much of a radial load for ball bearing gate hinges. Barrel hinges consist mostly of the pivot pin. Only the stubs of the plates are welded to the pin, since the stubs themselves are designed to be welded directly onto the gate and post.

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Garden gates can be hard to choose. Should your garden gate be wood or metal? What style of gate best compliments and enhances the look of your yard? Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular materials and styles.

Wooden Garden Gate Options

A good practice for selecting a wooden gate, or having one custom made, is to look for a style that resembles the house to which it belongs. A house that’s more rustic in design would get a garden gate in the back that’s similarly rustic. Consider whether or not you want the gate to be plain or accented with wrought iron ornaments. Do you want a single gate or dual gates? For a single gate, would you prefer a sliding gate, or the more popular swing gate?

Dual, solid arched gates are particularly effective for wood fences or stone uprights. For privacy, it’s common to use tongue and groove lumber for a stockade look, where there are no gaps between the slats. The hinges are traditionally placed on the garden side to keep them from being visible when entering the garden.

A Z-frame gate is another popular option. Z framing refers to gate frameworks where parallel boards that act as upper and lower members of the frame are joined by a longer, diagonal member. As with the hinges, the Z-frame is mounted on the garden side of the gate.

Metal Garden Gates

On paper, iron garden gates may seem incompatible with something as organic as a garden, but seen together, they blend exceptionally well. Wrought iron garden gates are preferred if you can afford them, but galvanized steel is a cost-effective substitute. A black power coat finish is applied to a steel garden gate for a wrought iron look. Metal gates of either type are best used with stone uprights, both for aesthetics and long-term structural stability.

Wire gates are another option if you have a chain link fence, or another style of metal fencing. Some wires gate are themselves made of wrought iron, featuring a garden trellis pattern. Mesh gates offer a lighter touch, showcasing more the garden beyond the entrance. Wire gates can be attached to fencing in a few ways. The most common is to have a pair of hinge tabs or L-shaped brackets welded to the gate to attach to your post.

Your choice of wooden or metal garden gates will most likely depend on the fencing you already have in place, but don’t fail to consider an option simply because it initially seems incompatible with your existing fence. You may be able to make your preferred garden gate mesh very well with your fencing and landscaping by simply replacing the uprights with a different material.

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Fence panels are the sections of fencing that get attached to posts. Each fence panel consists of slats, chain link or a mesh material, and two or more rails that run across them. They can be assembled from scratch in DIY fashion, or, more commonly, purchased as prefabricated units. Fencing panels are avilable in a wide range of styles, from ornamental to utilitarian, and for a wide array of applications ranging from privacy fencing to animal containment.

Installing Fencing Panels

Panels are typically sold in 5″ to 8″ lengths. You’ll need to measure the total footage of the enclosed property’s perimeter, then divide by them your panel’s length to determine the number of panels needed. The posts are placed in the ground centered at intervals corresponding to the panel’s length — they go between the panels, usually on the inside of the property, and the panels are attached with lag screws. The exception would be the first and last panels, which will either overlap with the first/last post be a few inches, or will be cut to the edge of the post.

Common Fencing Panel Materials

Wood is the most commonly used material for residential fencing, particularly for stockade fences designed for privacy. Redwood, spuce and cedar are excellent materials for wood fence panels that weather better than cheaper wooden fence panels like pine. Bamboo fence panels also weather nicely, and are ideal for decorative garden fencing while being quite affordable.

If you’re interested in the look of wood, but would rather not have to deal with the long-term maintenace issues like moisture damage, rot or chipping, consider vinyl fence panels. They’re lighter, weatherproof, and already colored (and therefore don’t have to be painted).

Metal fence panels come in a variety of styles. Like vinyl, aluminum panels require no painting. Also like vinyl, aluminum fence panels are impervious to rust. Aluminum provides a similar look to wrought iron fence panels with a much lower price tag. Aluminum panels are easy for home homeowners to install themselves, since they’re usually sold with a posts that are prepunched for simplified attachment. Mesh and chain link fence panels are usually meant for sports, animal containment, crowd control and other temporary fencing rather then residential applications.

Concrete Fence Panels

Panels for precast concrete fence walls are by far the most strongest, heaviest and most expensive material, with individual panels often costing more than entire fences made of wood, vinyl, or even wrought iron. More often than not, concrete walls are intended for commercial enclosures. For residential fencing, they’re more commonly found in Great Britain than the United States.

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