A wooden gate is an excellent aesthetic and functional touch for any garden. In order to get the best from them, however, we should treat them some occasional maintenance, in much the same way that we treat the surrounding fences. Gates tend to be a little more sensitive to wear-and-tear, however, and so they’re deserving of more regular care and attention.
Let’s take a look at some common questions surrounding gate maintenance, and see if we can posit some potential solutions. Caring for a gate isn’t particularly difficult – provided that you’re observant enough to notice problems in the first place!
What paint should I use?
When you’re covering a gate in paint, you’ll need to be sure that you’re not sealing any excess moisture inside. For this reason, it’s best to paint at midday on a sunny day, after washing and scrubbing the gate in the morning. That way, it will have had a chance to fully dry. You can purchase paints and stains which allow the underlying timber to breathe, protect the wood against UV light and allow moisture to pass from one side to the other.
Oils will soak into the fibres of the wood rather than simply covering them. They’ll therefore offer more thorough protection and condition the gate better than other forms of stain; but they’ll also need to be re-applied every few months in order to retain their good looks.
How should I treat hinges?
Just as wood is vulnerable to damage from moisture and temperature, so too are the metal hinges that secure the gate to the surrounding frame. In either case, the solution is identical – treat the hinge to a protective coat. WD40 will clean and protect, as well as oiling the hinge itself – thereby eliminating squeaks before they occur. You don’t need to apply much to get good results, so be sure to take care of this particular task preventatively – as it’s easier to stop a problem like this from occurring than it is to deal with it after it has done.
How do I deal with rot?
It’s impossible to un-rot a piece of timber. That said, it is possible to disguise small areas of rot before they have a chance to affect the look of the entire door. If you notice small areas of rot covering the surface of the gate, then cut them out and fill the gap with wood-filler. This is a sort of resin which sets hard, and is designed to look like wood once it has. Sand the resulting plug down so that the gate is smooth, and then give it a protective finish.
This is an appropriate solution where small amounts of superficial damage have occurred. If the gateposts themselves are rotted, however, then this might cause a structural problem – one that can only really be fixed by replacing the posts.
How do I deal with rust?
Rust is another sort of damage which, once it’s occurred, is impossible to reverse. The earlier you notice spots of rust and intervene to correct them, the easier it will be to do so – and that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on hinges.
Where there’s a small patch of rust, you might be able to just rub it away using either sandpaper or a wire scrubbing brush. You can get specialist sandpapers designed to deal with metal – they’re made using tiny fragments of a rock named emery, and they’re super-hard. Once the rust has been removed, you’ll be able to re-paint the metal. Do this with a primer, a base coat and a gloss coat for the most thorough possible protection.
How do I deal with sagging?
A sagging gate is a common problem. If your gate is exhibiting this problem, then you’ll need to check that the hinges are intact and functioning. Over time, a metal fixing can works its way loose from a wooden frame thanks to simple gravity. When this occurs, you’ll need to check the fitting to see if any screws have come loose or fallen out entirely. This being the case, you’ll need to replace them with screws that fit more tightly. Use larger screws, or move the existing hinges to an area of wood that isn’t worn.
In some instances, the hinges of your gate might have become damaged beyond repair. Sometimes, it might be necessary to replace the gate entirely. In this instance, get in touch with a reputable timber merchant. Richard Williams is one such retailer of sheds, fences, flooring and gates in North Wales.