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?”.