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Wrought Iron Gates vs. Wood

Wood a Less Costly Option


Picture of a white wrought iron gate. Sturdy and beautiful, wrought iron gates are a popular choice.

Picture of a white wrought iron gate.

David Beaulieu

Having trouble choosing between the different types of driveway gates, such as wrought iron gates? You may like the look of wood gates, but are they the best choice for your particular driveway? If you choose metal over wood but conclude that wrought iron would wreak too much havoc with your budget, what other types of metal structures are available? I recently conducted an interview on the different types of driveway enclosures with professional landscape designer, Paul Corsetti in search of answers to such questions. A portion of the interview is contained in the following Q&A:

Q. I see a fair number of wrought iron gates in my area. What are some of the other popular types of driveway enclosures at this time in North America? Could you briefly discuss the pros and cons of the different types (in terms of cost, durability, etc.)?

A. Well that all depends on the width of the driveway. If it is a large driveway width, then the material for the driveway gate has to be strong enough to span that distance, so steel or wrought iron gates would be used. In some cases, heavy gauge cast aluminum would be used to cut costs down. If the driveway is of a shorter width, then you can almost consider a wood gate. With wood, you need to consider its durability and, and it must be designed properly and have proper fasteners, hinges and latches. The main factor to consider is whether it will warp and sag under its own weight with repeated opening and closing.

With wrought iron gates (and other types made of metal), you can be assured that they will keep their structure intact for years to come as long as the pillars they are secured to are built with a proper base. Some of the wrought iron gates, etc. may, after a while, cause rust stains on light colored driveways.

Q. Tell us more about wood gates, Paul. Comparing wood gates to other types of driveway gates in terms of cost versus quality, how would you rate wood as a material? Under what circumstances might a consumer find wood gates an attractive option? Conversely, are there circumstances in which one would definitely want to stay away from installing wood gates?

A. Well, for using a wood gate versus a metal or wrought iron gate, you can certainly save money in the overall cost of the project. But a wood gate is limited in terms of how much distance it can span. Once it goes over 42 inches in width, the need for metal brackets and cross bracing becomes a very important factor. The weight of the wood will naturally cause the structure to sag whereas a metal unit is held together by welds and is more stable in terms of its joints. A wood gate will bounce and twist as it swings open, and a wood gate that is longer than 5 feet will need metal bracket plates to make the joints more rigid.

Because wood is a live material and susceptible to swelling from humidity levels, the fastener joints can, over time, work their way loose if the structure has a longer width than usual. If a driveway is a single car width and you can design a double opening at maybe 4 to 5 feet in width for the two sides, then a wood gate is a great option for the cost of a gate install. It could mean the difference between a $1000 (Canadian) to $2000 wood gate install versus a $4000 to $10,000 wrought iron gate install. If you were looking to span something greater than 10 feet in width, then you’d want to consider looking at metal instead of a wood gate.

Next steps:

Through 9 years of working in the trade along with achieving a degree and diploma in Landscape Architecture through Ryerson University, Paul has gained vast experience in the landscape industry. He is able to plan elements of design work with his years of experience spent as a professional gardener, a contractor and a stone sales rep. In co-ordination with “GardenStructure.com” and his design company “Hands In Nature, Landscape Designs”, Paul is able to bring this knowledge forward to his clients.

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