The differences between “mild steel” and “wrought iron” driveway gates

Be warned!

Many Gate Automation companies are selling mild steel gates as “wrought iron” as most clients do not fully understand what this means. This could be a very costly mistake especially comparing like for like quotations.

To the untrained eye there is little visible difference between forged bars of wrought iron & Mild Steel- the difference however are worlds apart in terms of durability, weight, finish and construction methods. If you are considering metal electric gates It is very important to understand the difference in quality and value is enormous.

Wrought Iron literally means ‘worked iron’, which refers to the method of manufacturing the metal by working (beating) repeatedly under a hammer- it is the same process that steel workers have used for many centuries whether it be making swords or horse shoes. The work of the blacksmith therefore became known as ‘Wrought Ironwork’, a name that has persisted for the art form even though the metal in use may not be wrought iron.

Wrought Iron’s superior weathering properties that are most notable. Wrought iron is known for its durability and will last many hundreds of years, its unique properties allow it to resist corrosion.  Just look at the amount of Wrought iron in heritage sites and buildings that are over 300 years old- Mild steel can last upto 60 years with suitable galvanising.

Wrought Iron is softer to forge, as it is workable at a higher heat than mild steel making it more ‘malleable’ under the hammer. Amazing ornate shapes can be manipulated into the metal to create stunning gate designs with no visible welds.

Today the common material of gate fabrication is mild steel which is a less expensive, readily available and requires a lower skill level to produce gates than wrought iron.  the years we have commissioned many gate designs both in wrought Iron and mild steel- for the vast majority of residential homes mild steel is most suitable product primarily on weight and cost. A substantial pair of wrought iron gates could be as much as 10 times the cost of its mild steel counter parts. It is also important to take into consideration that “wrought iron” gates are many times heavier and very heavy duty gate automation will be required.

How can you tell if your metal gate is wrought iron or mild steel?

If you can see mechanical welds on the outside of a product then it’s very likely to be made of mild steel. If no welds can be seen then further tests would need to be carried out to determine the material used This is not to say mild steel is unsuitable, indeed it is far less expensive to manufacture and weighs far less so the construction process is very different and can be mass produced.

Average cost of a 4000mm opening

Mild steel gates (without galvanising or painting) £2,000

Wrought Iron £12,000 +

In summary, If your gate installer is specifying “wrought iron” I would seek further clarification as in most residential gate installations this would not be the case- it would mean they either do not know what they are selling or are deliberately mis leading you into a sale- avoid these companies at all costs.

Very few electric gate installation companies in the UK have the technology, design flair, skills, finance, customer base or opportunity to create bespoke gates in wrought Iron.

In the words of a blacksmith, “You wouldn’t buy a piece of wooden furniture with the glue on the outside of the joints would you?”.

 

Timber gates comparison – Oak, Iroko, Sapele, Idigbo, Redwood

By Edward Viera- Renzland Powergates Ltd

I served my apprenticeship as a joiner making custom made cabinets, paneling and bespoke timber gates. During my 40 years as a time served craftsman and engineer I have since worked on a varied range of projects including royal properties, historical buildings and overseas projects for private clients.

We are often asked which species of timber is most suitable for gate automation. With increased world demand for hardwoods “growing” (pun unintentional), supplies of quality hardwood has become difficult with prices rising. It can sometimes be difficult when choosing the right timber for your new wooden automatic gate system ensuring value for money.

There are a number of factors that need to be considered by your gate installer before making recommendations- elements such as timber density, drying and kilning process, durability, knots (which can be desirable or undesirable depending on the application), machining, moisture, movement , the acceptability of stain/paint finishes, texture, weight/thickness, manufacturing process and hinge geometry all have an important effect on the overall quality and longevity of the system.

In most cases the final decision by the client is almost always dictated by budget and aesthetic preferences.

Whilst this information is not exhaustive, I have put together a list of the most commonly used timbers for gate automation and my review on each. This review is based on some 40 years experience as a craftsman using all types of soft and hardwood for internal and external purposes and personally over 300 timber gate installations. I was also researched with help from the sites referenced below. It is also important to point out that any automatic timber gate whether is be made from hard or softwood is only as good as the individual components that make up the system (gate automation, ironmongery, supporting posts), design, the installation itself, and of course the ongoing maintenance of the gate system.

Iroko     star iconstar iconstar iconstar iconstar icon 5/5

Iroko is a very durable hardwood. The colour varies from light yellow to golden brown and texture is coarse, often with an interlocked grain. It is indigenous to Africa and is often referred too as “African Oak”   Kiln dried iroko is strongly recommended for external gates.  This is a hard wearing timber which is resistant to decay.  Has many of the desirable features of oak and is commonly used for electric gates, external joinery, boat building and marine work. click here for a case study for iroko automatic gates. or here

Iroko        Paint-Stain          Moisture              gate cost                 Durability

Colour                   Poor                          Small                 Medium-High          Very Durable

English Oak  star iconstar iconstar iconstar iconstar icon 5/5

The sapwood is creamy white and is sharply defined from the golden, warm-brown of the heartwood.  If left untreated over time it will weather down to reveal the characteristic silver grain which looks fabulous on older character properties.  The timber is hard, heavy and durable.  Oak is very coarse in texture and straight grained, requiring the correct seasoning, hinging and automation.  It can be worked to a fine finish if necessary. As the name would imply English oak is indigenous to the British Isles, it is probably the best known and one of the most versatile of all timbers, being used more extensively and for a greater number of purposes than any other. However this comes at a cost and using this timber could easily double the cost of the entire gate installation.  For clients looking for top of the range timber electric gates- look no further than Oak. At additional cost we have laser etched crests/emblems into the timber or have it carved for truly personal customisation.

Oak        Paint-Stain          Moisture              gate cost                 Durability

Colour                   Good                          Small                 High                            Very Durable

 Sapele   star iconstar iconstar iconstar icon 4/5

Sapele is another hardwood from Africa, the colour dark reddish brown.  Grain is interlocked or wavy with a medium to fine texture.  It stains fairly easily which makes this use of gates easier to maintain in the longer term.  Common uses are usually internal such as furniture, shopfitting, and flooring but is becoming a popular choice to automate timber gates. Sapele can be used as an external wood however it is less durable than Iroko or Oak and has a greater moisture content therefore is can be susceptible to movement which can be offset with the appropriate adjustable hinges. Using sapele for automated gates is a good compromise if a superior hardwood is not attainable due to budget constraints and the option of using softwood is not acceptable.

Sapele        Paint-Stain          Moisture              gate cost                 Durability

Colour                            Good                          Medium                 Medium                 Moderate

Idigbo/Emeri star iconstar iconstar iconstar icon 4/5

Colour is yellow to light brown.  The grain is straight to slightly irregular with a medium to fairly coarse texture.  This timber works well by both machine and hand tools and finishes cleanly therefore you can achieve very fine finishes with all the benefits of a hardwood.  Idigbo is an excellent utility timber for many purposes due to its medium weight, ease of working, durability and outstanding stability- in particular for use on timber garage doors and smaller swing gates. Idigbo is not as readily available or mainstream perhaps Iroko therefore the price may be higher. It is perhaps viewed as a more exclusive timber but due to the yellowish colour it is an acquired taste.

Idigbo        Paint-Stain          Moisture              gate cost                 Durability

Colour                          Good                          Medium             Medium-High           Durable

 Redwood star iconstar icon 2/5

Redwood is a popular softwood used for gate automation, typically 5 bar farm gates- Usually sourced from Scandinavia, Russia and the UK is is also known as pine and Scot’s Pine, its colour is pale yellowish-brown to red-brown heartwood with lighter-coloured sapwood. Gates made from Redwood should be treated every 1 to 2 with water-repellent preservative stain , depending on the environment. We would strongly recommend pressure treated softwood gates to ensure the longevity of your gate investment.  

Douglas        Paint-Stain          Moisture              gate cost                 Durability

Colour                               Good                        Medium                 Low                     Non-Durable

 

Legend-

Paint-Stain This refers to the ease of accepting a stain or paint finish. Oils are recommended for hardwood gates due to ease of application and finish.

Moisture          Moisture movement- the dimensional changes that occur when dried timber is subjected to changes in atmospheric conditions. For situations where varying humidities are likely to be encountered and stability of a component is important, a small movement species should be specified for electric gates.  The most recent standard for moisture content in general is BSEN 942 1996 Timber & Joinery.

gate costCost- Based on a average 3500mm wide closed board gate. Low- Under £1000, Medium £1000-£2,000 Medium to high £1500-£3,000+ High £3,000 +

Durability   Durability- non-durable 5-10 years; moderately durable 10-15 years; durable 15-25 years; very durable 25+ years.

To get in contact with me I can be reached on eddie (@) universeuk.com or on the numbers above.

Useful links-

The Forest Stewardship Council http://www.fsc-uk.org/

The PEFC Council (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) http://www.pefc.org/

The Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA)    http://www.trada.co.uk/

The Timber Trade Federation http://www.ttf.co.uk/

The door and hardware federation http://www.dhfonline.org.uk/

Advice on insurance claims for damaged electric gates

We are often called to attend site to appraise damaged gates for insurance companies as an expert witness. In the majority of causes, claims are filed due to collision damage from vehicles.

Both hardwood and metal gates are robust, they can often be taken away and repaired so it may not be necessary to purchase new gates,  however be warned, damage is not always necessarily restricted to the gates themselves- the supporting structures or gate operators may have been damaged and will require further inspection and testing.

You may not be allowed to claim, or to recover the full costs, if you don’t notify your insurer immediately when you notice damage to your electric gates from a claimable event.

Storm damage to gates, fences and boundary walls is normally not covered either contents or buildings insurance.  This is primarily due to the extreme difficulty in differentiating between damage caused to a gate by the weather on its own, or if it has been poorly installed and maintained and the weather has simply accelerated problems. Therefore it is advisable to keep all receipts and keep a record of all maintenance carried out on your electric gates. Also take photos with a date stamp which will help with creditably in the event of a claim so it is clearly visible that your gates were damaged due to the event you are claiming for.

If your fence or gates were damaged due to the impact of a passing vehicle, your policy may agree to pay out in accordance with the terms of your cover.

Some insurance companies can take a long time to settle a claim especially if there is a dispute or ambiguous circumstances. For example gates that have been damaged by cars tailgating, which constitutes as misuse and may not be covered. In many cases gates have been damaged by delivery drivers, the bin man or even post vans while the owner was away and it could not be proven how the damage was caused.

We recently had a client tell us about there gate being hit by a skip lorry who denied all knowledge until, his company was sent recorded CCTV footage of the event!

In many cases we have known it to take well over 1 year for a claim to be processed and ultimately paid out. Therefore most gate installation companies including ourselves will not deal with the insurance company directly or accept payment from them. This is due to the disproportionately high administrative costs dealing with insurance companies based on a relatively small margin orders.

If your home security is compromised as your electric gates are no longer working we would strongly recommend paying for them to be fixed by a reputable gate installation company immediately while your claim is being processed.

We offer all clients a free of charge quotation for insurance purposes, however if you would like us to attend site to repair the gates a call out fee and further hourly site charges will apply. BROKEN GATES

DAMAGED GATES gate repair

AFTER DAMAGED GATES REPAIRED

 

Please click here to visit our servicing, repairs and maintenance page.

Wooden electric gate installation- Maidenhead I Berkshire

 

 

Before wooden electric gates

Before wooden electric gates

After wooden electric gates

After wooden electric gates

Timber Gates

This is a recent automatic gate installation carried out by Renzland Powergates Ltd in Maidenhead, Berkshire. We replaced the existing softwood 5 bar farm gate and widened the entrance to accommodate the new gates. The new gates are made from Iroko is a hardwood from the west coast of Africa. It is particularly suited to these types of installations as it is tough and extremely hard wearing- it is a very good alternative to oak and vastly less expensive.

Iroko is often referred to as African Teak, due to its durable qualities although it is unrelated to the teak family. The wood colour is initially yellow but darkens to a richer brown over time. The posts are seasoned oak however we applied special oil wood protector to the gate, once the specific colour was selected the pigmentation technology within the oil allows an intense and deep coloring in one single layer, without influencing the natural look and feel of the wood so both the posts and gates themselves appeared to be the same wood, even though they were from different species. The molecular bonding creates a durable, long lasting protection.

Please click here for more information on our wooden gates

Access Control

Renzland Powergates Ltd recommended using a wireless entry phone system which will avoid any issues of taking up the brick driveway for cable runs and making good internally to the house.  This has a significant cost saving over a hard wired alternative.

Daitem wireless unit is an entry level remote entry control system can be used to welcome and filter visitors. Using the Daitem system, remotely opening one or several entrances (pedestrian gate, driveway gate and garage door), and activating external lighting to facilitate access to users’ homes could not be simpler. The portable indoor handset is wireless allowing users to move around freely. This has the added feature of a keypad code lock entry system.

Gate Automation

The Gate Automation was provided by BFT a market leader in Gate Automation- All BFT products come with a comprehensive 2 year warranty. As the gates are closed board this could be wind effected therefore we selected hydraulic ram arms- the particular gate operator is called “Oro” These Gate rams are a popular choice for ornamental domestic gates as they are one of the smallest hydraulic operators available. All Automation was installed; force tested and commissioned to comply with all current EU Safety legislation and BS EN 12453:2001. Resistive safety edges were installed to the closing edge of the posts to avoid finger trapping.

Guide Price £7,000