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How long will my metal gates last? Your key questions answered

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We now have more than 30 years of experience behind us here at SL Wrought Iron, and in all those decades we’ve fielded plenty of questions from customers about our wrought iron gates. As you might expect, certain questions crop up time and time again, and this one is a prime example – how long will my metal gates last?

If that’s something you’re wondering yourself, here we’ve explained the answer in a bit more detail, and addressed some of the most common related questions we’re often asked!

How long will my metal gates last?

As long as they’re given proper finishing and maintenance, metal gates and fences will last a lifetime. To be a bit more specific, at the very least they’ll last a few decades, and in fact it’s not uncommon for metal gates to last 70 years or more.

It’s a length of time that often surprises our customers, but then again it’s easy to underestimate the amount of work that’s gone into engineering the materials utilised by modern metal gates. These materials have been incrementally developed over many decades to be extremely durable and hardwearing, making metal gates very resilient against casual bumps and damage.

What’s more, modern techniques like galvanising and powder coating are incredibly effective at boosting the environmental resistance of metal gates too, so that they remain broadly unaffected by weather conditions like rain and snow. By extension, these techniques do a great job of protecting your gates from rust.

Why you should galvanise your gates

If you’ve had a look at any other suppliers of metal side gates or metal garden gates, you may have noticed that the vast majority of them offer you the option to galvanise your metal gates. Technically it’s optional – here at SL Wrought Iron for example, we can supply our products with a primer only, ready for you to apply your own coat of top paint. However, if you’re not sure exactly what top coat you’d want, or if you don’t think for whatever reason you’d be able to do the job effectively, then getting your gates galvanised is something we’d strongly recommend – and in fact it’s a service we provide as standard.

That’s primarily because galvanisation protects your gates from rust. It’s not just a matter of preserving their impeccable appearance, but also ensuring that they continue functioning as smoothly as they can for an indefinite period of time. As a ‘working’ product rather than a static decorative feature, metal front gates in particular are subject to occasional bumps and scrapes, as well as general wear and tear. That means if they’re not galvanised, parts of them will probably start to rust in relatively short order.

Ideally then, they should ultimately have a galvanised finish with a powder coated top layer. The key process is hot dip galvanising, which essentially involves submerging the gates in molten zinc. The zinc bonds with all surfaces of the bare steel (so that the gates don’t end up rusting from the inside out), and then when the gates are removed, they’ll have a thin layer of zinc over the top.

This effectively protects the steel from rust as it seals them away from water and air. (In case you’re wondering, the iron reacts with the oxygen and hydrogen in the air, causing a chemical reaction which results in what we see as rust.) All that constitutes a big reason why the galvanisation process generally helps the gates to last more than 70 years.

Powder coating is the best paint option for metal gates

After galvanisation, powder coating is the next most crucial step in maximising the operational lifespan of metal gates. It’s notably different from wet paint in that it involves a powder being effectively baked directly onto the metal at high temperatures. This substantially reinforces the substrate, resulting in an extremely hardwearing, streak-free and blemish-free coating – one that serves as another effective seal between the elements and the core steel of the gates themselves.

Powder coating is a process that’s often used with metals, including steel and iron, and can last anywhere from 20 to 50 years with the proper maintenance and no impact damage. That makes it the longest-lasting and most durable coating that you can apply to your new gates.

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of routine maintenance

Once the metal has been effectively treated, and your gates are finally installed, there’s only one last step to maximising their lifespan is to ensure that they’re well-maintained over their lifetime. Thankfully this isn’t a particularly intensive job, and it’s not one that has to be done hugely frequently either.

We won’t go into exhaustive detail here, but essentially the main steps involve:
• A regular inspection
• An annual clean
• Lubrication of the bolts and hinges
• Removal of any rust (if present)

It’s worth saying that rust rarely develops on our own products here at SL Wrought Iron, largely because we supply our gates and railings galvanised and powder coated as standard options!

However, if you’ve got any specific queries that haven’t been answered here, feel free to get in touch with our experts. We have over three decades of experience behind us, and all of our products are handcrafted by talented experts right here in our Lancashire factory. You can choose from our beautiful ranges right here on our website, and we can even make bespoke products according to individual customer specifications!

Feel free to have a look around – or alternatively, if you’ve got any questions or need any advice, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01254 236994, and we’ll be happy to see how we can help.