A swinging gate at the front of your property, whether manually or automatically operated, can add a touch of glamour and class to your home, as well as providing an excellent first line of security. However, to provide this security your swing gates must be made from robust, durable materials, as a fragile gate can easily be broken into (or through) by home invaders. Here are some of the most suitable materials for secure swing gate construction, along with their pros and cons:
An excellent aesthetic choice for rural or traditionally-styled homes, timber swing gates are also highly durable and resistant to breakages or impact damage. Anti-fungal treatments (either applied yourself or by the manufacturer) can make a timber gate extremely resilient against mould and rot, while similar insecticidal treatments can render it practically immune to the attentions of termites and woodworm. With these treatments, you can expect a wooden swing gate to stay looking beautiful for many years, but even aged gates and can be sanded and restrained to easily and effectively renew their looks.
However, the type of wood you choose for a timber gate will dramatically affect how it performs, and cheap, relatively fragile softwoods such as pine may not provide the security and protection you desire. For best results, many homeowners choose tropical hardwoods which are strong and naturally resistant to rot and wood-boring insects, but these woods can be expensive and obtaining them in an environmentally-sound manner may be difficult. Consider choosing one of the lesser prized native Australian hardwoods, such as spotted gum or jarrah, for durable good looks that won't break the bank (or the earth).
Considered by many to be the gold standard for home security, a metal swing gate combined elegant good looks with excellent security and durability. However, like timber gates, your choice of specific metal will change the characteristics of your gate. The most popular metals used for swing gate construction include:
Steel: Boasting excellent durability against damage, steel is also a versatile metal that can be crafted into a wide variety of shapes and designs. A number of protective coatings, including extremely strong enamel paints, help to protect the steel beneath from rust and corrosion: however, this coating will need to be renewed periodically to prevent hidden rust from undermining the strength of your gates.
Aluminium: While not as strong as steel, aluminium is still a highly durable metal, and its decreased weight makes it an excellent choice for swing gates with automatic openers. Aluminium is also naturally rust resistant, and does not need coatings to protect itself (although they can still be applied for aesthetic purposes).
Wrought iron: The traditionalist's choice, wrought iron is tremendously strong and heavy to provide maximum security. Its malleability when hot also means it can be crafted into practically any design you can think of. However, wrought iron needs durable coatings to protect it from rust, and its great weight can make manual operation difficult and burn out weaker automatic openers.
An excellent choice for people looking to install swing gates on a tight budget, PVC gates are strong yet slightly flexible, making them ideal for resisting impact damage from cars and other vehicles. With a huge variety of colours and design choices available (including convincing wood-effect grain patterns) you can bank on finding a PVC gate that fits in with your overall design scheme. PVC gates are also rust and insect-proof, and an occasional wipe down with a damp rag is all that is required to keep them free of mould and mildew deposits.
Unfortunately, PVC tends to retain its smooth, 'plasticy' look and feel even with the most convincing wood or stone-effect patterning, and this man-made material may not suit luxury homes. PVC also has a habit of perishing in intense sunlight over long periods of time, causing it to crumble and lose large amounts of strength -- UV blocking treatments can be used to prevent this, as can purchasing uPVC gates which are more resistant to UV damage (but also more expensive).