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    Gate maintenance

    Summary: Learn how to maintain a gate, repair rotten timber, deal with a rusty gate and repair a sagging gate.

    Wooden gates should be regularly treated with wood preservative or painted to protect against rot. Likewise, metal gates should be painted unless galvanised, to prevent rust. The hinges on gates can be smeared with oil or grease to prevent rust, but it is best to paint latches.

    Repairing rotten timber

    • Cut away any small areas of rotten timber and fill the gap with wood filler (epoxy-resin type). This should set after about 15 minutes, when you can sand it down until smooth.
    • If the pales or brace on a gate are rotten, they can be replaced. Any new timber fitted should be treated with wood preserver. Use a clear preserver if you intend to paint over it, or buy pre-treated timber.
    • It is usually best to replace rotten or damaged gateposts altogether.
    • Once all the timber repairs are completed, the gate can be painted and will look as good as new.

    Dealing with rust

    The earlier you notice rust spots, the easier they are to remove. It is a good idea to keep an eye on metal gates or fixings for that reason.

    • For small patches of rust, rub it away using abrasive paper and repaint straight away because rust can reappear overnight.
    • Severe rusting will need to be removed with a wire brush.
    • Once you have removed the rust, you can repaint the metal with a rust-neutralising primer, followed by an undercoat then a gloss coat.
    • Alternatively, use a one-coat paint (such as Hammerite), which is both a rust-inhibitor and finishing paint.

    Repairing a sagging gate

    Gates can sag over time for various reasons. The most common cause is the hinges which can become loose through wear and tear.

    • Check the condition of the hinges first, and replace loose hinge screws with longer, galvanised ones.
    • An alternative is to relocate the hinges higher up so the screws are secured into firmer wood. Replace the hinges with new ones if they are worn or damaged.
    • If the hinges are sound, the problem may be that the joints in the timber have separated or become loose. If this is the case then cover the joint with a metal plate, which will hold the wood together securely.
    • To do this, squeeze as much wood adhesive into the joint and hold it together as you fix the bracket in place.
    • Wobbly, unsteady gates may need to be replaced or taken apart and re-attached.
    • If you want to remake the gate you need to clean away the old adhesive from the joints and re-fix them using a waterproof wood adhesive.
    • You can reinforce the mortise-and-tenon joints by drilling a hole through the post and into the tongue of the tenon, and then inserting a glue-covered dowel.

    Another reason why a gate may sag is when there is no diagonal brace to strengthen the rails, or the one in use is not strong enough. Fit a new brace in place with waterproof adhesive and galvanised screws ensuring it is a good fit. However a more common error is that the gate was hung the wrong way round. The gate should be fitted to the posts so the top end of the diagonal brace is nearest the latch and the lower end closest to the hinge.

    If the joints have become separated, use a metal plate to hold the wood firmly together.

    If required, fit a new brace in place with waterproof adhesive and galvanised screws.

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    Tools Needed
    • Wire brush
    • Paint brush
    • Wood chisel
    • Wooden mallet
    • Power drill
    Materials Needed
    • Wood preserver
    • Oil OR grease
    • Wood-repair filler (epoxy-resin type)
    • Dowel
    • Abrasive paper
    • Rust-neutralising primer
    • Undercoat
    • Gloss coat
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