Design: there are 3 ways the design of your new wood gate can develop.
1. My Design
On my first visit, we talk about your home’s style and existing details we might use in the new gate to reflect and harmonize the look. Privacy and security or openness with a welcoming feeling would be discussed to fulfill your vision of your new gate. Also, colors of other woodworking and trim on your home might be used in a variety of ways to match or contrast. Next we’ll determine any other special needs such as meeting pool-safe requirements, speak-easy window and grille, side panels or special attachments to existing walls or structure. Finally, I’ll show some options for the locksets or other hardware to determine the right level of security, convenience and price range.
2. Your Design
If you have photos you’ve taken or pictures from magazines or design books that reflect the look and feel of the gate you want, I can adapt that design to your setting and special requirements and create your new gate to fit your home. Hardware and decorative pieces will be discussed. We have helped design hundreds of wood gates in Orange County, Ca.
3. Architectural Plans
If your new gates are part of landscaping plans that an architect or designer has prepared for you, I can work from those plans to create your new gate. Occasionally I can suggest ways to improve on the design in structure or material in order to give you the most long lasting and trouble-free gate installation possible.
Wood Gates are a different breed of woodworking from regular house trim or even exterior doors. The extreme exposure that a gate is subjected to requires special finish considerations. They are completely exposed to rain from all sides, including the bottom, if the gate is in a garden setting with sprinklers nearby. Also, the brutal effects of the sun can quickly lead an ordinary wood finish to fade, change colors, crack and deteriorate. Even marine finishes can break down under these conditions, sometimes leaving the homeowner with costly maintenance. If the setting is near the water in the coastal areas, these effects can be even worse due to the ocean salts and heavy fog.
There are several steps that I take to ensure that your gate will have the best possible finish, That means not only that it will last as long as possible, but that the regular maintenance, which all exterior woodworking needs, will be easy to accomplish without aggressive and expensive preparation and re-finishing. Here are the two types of finish I recommend:
If your new wood gates will have a painted finish, I will provide the first coat of high quality primer, plus caulking, if needed. This means each component of the gate will be primed prior to assembly so that every one of the invisible edges and end-grain will be sealed. Also, all the secondary pieces, such as the jambs, stops and trim will be pre-primed on all sides and ends prior to installation. This pre-finishing step in critical to the longevity of your gate— if any hidden edges were left raw wood , moisture can seep in and cause excessive swelling and create areas where the painted finish quickly deteriorates. It can also lead to water being trapped within the grooves and within the wood itself, which can quickly lead to dry-rot or fungus growing.
The gate will be installed with this pre-primed treatment leaving it ready for your painter to finish the job. I recommend a second coat of primer after light sanding, then 2 coats of high quality water-based enamel. I suggest a water-based finish paint because an acrylic/latex coating will be more flexible, which is what you want in an exterior gates that needs to expand and contract without affecting the coating.
Sikkens Cetol 2-part exterior finish is far and away the best product available for this type of exterior woodworking. It is an oil based product that is expensive and a little tricky to use properly, but it gives a beautiful furniture-grade finish with a satin sheen that far outlasts any alternative. When staining a rustic or aged gate, I can achieve the shadows and highlights that I want by blending colors, feathering multiple coats and using a light burning and wire brushing technique. The basic wood-tone brown, known as “dark-oak”, is the most commonly used and matches most settings where a natural wood stain is desired. Sikkens also has a clear finish that is beautiful and durable for clear applications, especially mahogany and similar hardwoods where the rich color and dramatic grain patterns are desired.
Building Your New Gate
Heartwood gates are hand crafted, one at a time. The process begins with careful selection of premium materials. I look for matching grain and color, the best cuts of the tree to provide the most stable finished product; even the careful placement of attractive knots or other distinctive natural features of the wood. Careful design and layout ensures the highest quality possible and a gate that fits well and installs easily. Attention to detail promises a one-a-kind gate that will be a perfect expression of your personality and will harmonize with the style of your home. And, by applying the first coat of the selected finish prior to assembly, you can be assured of a long-lasting and durable gate and exterior finish.
When you have a quality custom wood gate built for you, you also will want the installation to use the highest quality material and hardware as well as special techniques for fastening to your existing or new walls. . Many gate builders do not even install their products—they recommend you get a contractor or handyman to do the job for you, which adds expense and complications to your project. When I do your installation, you get the same high quality woodworking as seen in the gate itself, as well as expert installation of the locksets, deadbolts and other hardware. You also get expert engineering in selecting the right way to attach the frames, or jambs, to the supporting walls .I use structural epoxy and extra large concealed anchor bolts in masonry, and a variety of screws or bolts to attach to a wood frame house with various siding applications. For attaching new posts to concrete walkways, I use my own design of steel “spline” brackets which can be set in place when a new concrete walk is poured. This is a far stronger and more permanent attachment than setting the wood post directly into the cement like a fence post. For attaching to existing walkways, I use the structural epoxy and anchor bolts to attach the steel “spline”. The use of the concealed “spline” minimizes the flex and bend of ordinary gate or fence posts. Heartwood gates are built to last and installed with care so that they will provide trouble-free function for many years.