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Why are Aluminium gates, great gates?

Updated on February 19, 2013

Automated Aluminium gates

Wood grain finish aluminium gate automated with an underground gate motor system.
Wood grain finish aluminium gate automated with an underground gate motor system. | Source
A slightly unusual design that shows the flexibility of styles available in Aluminium gates.  These gates are automated with underground gate motors.
A slightly unusual design that shows the flexibility of styles available in Aluminium gates. These gates are automated with underground gate motors. | Source
A white finish on Aluminium gates is more common in mainland Europe but is beginning to become more popular in the UK.
A white finish on Aluminium gates is more common in mainland Europe but is beginning to become more popular in the UK. | Source
This is a sliding Aluminium gate. The available space and angle of the driveway meant that the gate automation system slides the gate to one side along the wall.
This is a sliding Aluminium gate. The available space and angle of the driveway meant that the gate automation system slides the gate to one side along the wall. | Source
Aluminium gates don't just have to be used for driveways. Here's a great example of a pedestrian gate with wood grain finish.
Aluminium gates don't just have to be used for driveways. Here's a great example of a pedestrian gate with wood grain finish. | Source

Gate automation

Traditionally, gates have been made of wood, iron or steel. They range from simple five bar 'farm style' gates and flat panel gates made of various types of wood, to incredibly intricate and ornate iron gates often found at the entrances to stately or country homes.

As gate automation systems have become more popular in the UK, many of these existing gates have been automated. Home-owners have also seen the advantages of having automatic gates installed outside their homes, as electric gates give the following benefits to a property:

  • Added security from the inclusion of an extra obstacle to be overcome by a potential thief

  • Added safety for family and pets that can be prevented from running through open gates into roads

  • Added privacy and access control afforded by keeping gates closed to unwanted visitors and opening them for welcome visitors

  • Increased status from the addition of often imposing and impressive automated gates to the front of your property.

Gate automation comes in a variety of forms depending on gate leaf lengths, weight, choice of power supply, specified safety features, available space and customer preference for gate motor appearance. You can also have swing gates or sliding gates, with sliding gates often installed where swing gates would hit an obstruction when opening or there's not enough space to manoeuvre a car round open swing gates.

Gate safety plays a huge role in the specification and design of an automated gate system. There have been serious incidents and even deaths have been caused by automatic gates that were designed and installed by installers who took short-cuts and didn't consider the safety of anyone coming into contact with the gates.

The benefits of choosing aluminium for automated gates

Aluminium proves to be a great choice for automated gates as it has a number of benefits over alternative gate construction materials including:

  • Aluminium gates are much lighter than iron and steel

  • Aluminium gates do not rot like wood

  • Aluminium does not flex, expand and contract or warp like wood

  • Aluminium does not have a moisture content like wood

  • Aluminium gates do not corrode like steel and iron

  • Aluminium gates parts can be easily cut to shape

  • Aluminium gates can be coated with a variety of finishes including wood-grain

  • Aluminium is easily extruded to form the components of aluminium gates

  • Aluminium gates can easily be assembled by bolting , bonding or welding

  • Aluminium gates can be kept looking like new simply by wiping them down with a damp cloth periodically

The weight advantages of aluminium confer a number safety benefits, as one important safety consideration is the force required to open and close gates when wind is acting on them. If the gates don't close fully because the force of wind acting on them is strong enough to hold them open, an installer can simply increase the force supplied by the motors. This, however, also increases the danger to anyone caught in an opening or closing gate that doesn't have additional safety features installed. However, lighter gates require less energy to move them and therefore they carry less force when they are moving, so any potential danger is significantly reduced.

Although also light, while wooden gates look great to start with, they quickly weather and start to look a lot less appealing in front of your house. Without annual stripping of flaking paint or wood treatment such as creosote, and then re-application of new paint or treatment, wood will quickly deteriorate in appearance. If left in this state, water will penetrate and start to rot the wooden gate. Similarly, Iron gates and the Iron content in steel gates reacts with Oxygen in the air to create rust, and left untreated this will also cause gate deterioration.

Wood also has a natural water content and when this is affected by temperature changes it causes the wood to change size and shape. With extremes of temperature change and lack of treatment, wooden gates can dry out and warp which can make them difficult to open and close. Alternatively, untreated gates can absorb water and swell before succumbing to damp rot.

Aluminium's corrosion resistance means that automatic aluminium gates need little more than wiping down with a cloth to stay pristine for years. Such is the industry’s knowledge of and confidence in Aluminium Gates' resistance to corrosion that most manufacturers give a ten year guarantee on Aluminium gates.

Aluminium is a highly reactive element that forms a very strong chemical bond with Oxygen. This immediately sounds like a problem, as Iron forms a bond with Oxygen to create rust which eventually reduces the strong, smooth Iron (and Iron content of steel) to flaky and crumbly rust (Iron Oxide). However, Aluminium only forms a very thin surface layer of aluminium oxide which actually shields the material from further reaction with Oxygen in the surrounding air and is hugely beneficial in preventing the metal from corroding further.

When making aluminium gates, manufacturers and installers have a number of manufacturing and assembly techniques available to them. Aluminium is easily extruded which means that long hollow, shaped aluminium extrusions can be formed and then easily cut to specified lengths. This allows modular gates to be assembled to a wide variety of widths and heights. Assembly usually simply involves bolting or riveting sections together so aluminium gates can easily be put together without carpentry or welding experience.

Aluminium can also be extruded in shapes that look like elements of wrought iron gates and other styles of gate. They can also be finished with a variety of coatings that can mimic steel, iron and wood. These finishes can be very life-like and difficult to distinguish from the real material at a glance. Combining the shapes of traditional gates with the relevant surface finish means that all gate styles can be produced in aluminium.

When considering aluminium gates, you should also look for finishes with the 'Qualicoat' label of quality. This is an international quality assurance standard which ensures the finish of aluminium gates meets comprehensive standards of application, protection and longevity.

Qualicoat's website cites its mission as:

QUALICOAT’s mission is to provide best practice rules to obtain a good quality coating on aluminium. To achieve this goal, QUALICOAT is committed in particular to:

  • Establishing specifications for processes, products and tests to be used by the coating plants

  • Developing and improving these specifications

  • Granting licenses to coating plants that apply for the quality label

  • Testing and approving chemicals and coating products to be used

  • Monitoring the correct application of the specifications in licensed plants

So why are automatic aluminium gates great gates?

Aluminium is an essential part of our lives and is used in everything from drinks cans to aircraft. Its use in gate installation and automation means that home-owners can benefit from its corrosion resistance and light weight without having to restrict their choice of style or finish.

Linkcare Gate Automation's website has a page on aluminium gates and sums up their benefits perfectly by saying:

'Aluminium gates are strong, beautiful and free from rot or rust.

Aluminium is one of nature’s miracle materials. It is light, easy to cut and shape, can be welded, bonded, riveted or bolted together and it provides years of low to no maintenance in all weathers.'

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      linkcare 4 years ago

      Building your own home sounds amazing. Good luck with it and the automatic aluminium gates.