When deciding on a gate hinge, you must consider the weight of the gate and the width of the door to determine the overall center of gravity. It's important to purchase a hinge that adequately supports the gate so it doesn't appear lopsided, have difficulty latching or cause the gate to topple over. Research the manufacturer's guidelines before purchasing a hinge so you can find one that's suited to your gate design.
If the gate is old or you don't have the specs, know that the rule of thumb is that aluminum chain-link gates are lightweight, wood and wood-composite gates are moderately heavy -- depending on their height and width -- and solid iron gates are always heavy. For example, a 3-by-5-foot gate weighing 55 pounds is average, according to hinge experts at the Hardware Source. Heavy, oversize gates generally require heavy duty strap hinges, sometimes known as T-hinges, that bolt right through the wood or metal with nuts and washers.
It's All in the Motion
Determine how you want your gate to function. If you want your gate to spring back automatically after you've opened it, select a double-acting spring hinge. When you only need the gate to swing back in one one direction, use a single-acting spring butt hinge. If the door is moderately heavy, use two or three spring butt hinges evenly spaced along the gate post to support the weight. Spring hinges come in a variety of colors and materials, so choose one that suits your style. Bronze, iron, stainless-steel and rust-resistant hinges hold up well in humid, rainy regions.
Follow Your Themes
Consider the design you want. For example, choose a surface-mounted strap hinge for a lightweight gate if you want to maintain a rustic carriage-or barn-door motif. Or choose a durable, heavy duty, full-mortise hinge for a heavier gate to coordinate with a contemporary design. Strap hinges are available with bolt hooks that allow a wider range of motion and are sturdy enough to support heavy doors. An added benefit of bolt-hook strap hinges is you can remove the gate by lifting it off the bolt, without having to remove the hardware.
Choose an ornamental option if you want the hinges to stand out. Butterfly hinges are an appealing option because they have a solid, durable, metal construction, and a scalloped design that resembles a butterfly. Medieval strap hinges and scrolling T-hinges add elegance to an overall gate design, but you must make sure they are made of solid, durable materials that support the gate. You can buy faux decorative hinges that enhance a gate's aesthetic appeal, but you must ensure hidden weight-bearing hinges are in place.
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