A gate operator is a mechanical device that automates the opening and closing of your gate. They could be electric, solar powered or hydraulics actuated. These are some popular reasons for installing an automatic gate operator.
- Security. It is the primary reason given to have a gate. However, for convenience, most gates are not locked and left open. An electrical, solar or hydraulic automation system will add to the security of your property. Typically, these systems come with either key code entrance features or a remote control. They could also have voice activation or smart phone connection options. All of these features are very personal, exclusive and private.
- Convenience. No one wants to get in and out of their vehicle to open a gate in the rain or cold (and then do that to close the gate behind). And, no one has the time to do this either. Because we want to avoid this inconvenience, gates stay open – leaving your property open to unwanted visitors.
- Control. With an automated system, a land, home or business owner can more easily control who has access to their property. Depending on the type of system selected, there are numerous levels of control. Some systems allow you to see visitors on your smartphone using a discreet camera. People like having that power because it makes them feel more secure and assured of their safety.
Whatever your reason for having an automatic gate, give us a call. Once you have one, you won’t ever want to be without it. They are much like garage door openers. For brand suggestions, refer to a previous article on this site.
Custom gates come in a vast array of styles, sizes, designs and prices, and run the gamut from being fabricated from wood, to iron, to aluminum to combinations of metals and wood.
Any entrance are beautified when embellished with a custom gate. Here are two gates that have a way of dramatically enhancing the areas, for which, they are designed.
Whether for flower gardens or vegetable/fruit gardens, wooden gates add an enhanced level of charm to an already-welcoming area of your property. Ideally a garden gate should be incorporated into the personality of one’s home – whether that home is Contemporary, an English Tudor, a Spanish Colonial, a Craftsman-style home or any style, in between.
Garden gates can be very simple or very fanciful. Take, for example, a garden gate made from iron with arched tops, forged scroll detailing on the front grill, and open-design side pillars with ball finials. This style would add a distinct Southern-Plantation or English-Country-Cottage ambiance.
How about an enchanting wooden garden gate? Styles and designs are limited to only one’s imagination. One especially unique look could incorporate a solid, wood-panel door with a rounded top. The standout, eye-catching feature would be a large circular cut-out towards the top area. Within that cut-out, a see-through, circular, scrolled iron piece could be fitted to add a striking impact. This peek-a-boo style gate would offer the ability to view in and out, while still optimizing privacy.
Then, there are wooden, white-picket gates which add the classic appeal of an iconic design that has always proclaimed an inviting and welcoming touch. A simple concave or convex formation at the top would serve to add even more warmth and appeal. A black latch in addition to black metal hinges would create a striking contrast. A garden gate can add a fairytale-type entrance into your private little world.
When it comes to aesthetics, courtyard gates are optimally effective when they are integrated with the existing architectural theme. Courtyard gates shouldn’t be intended as merely a device to ensure privacy but should, also, feel like an integral part of the overall composition. Courtyard gates can become the crowning jewel of one’s property!
If your courtyard area exudes a rustic or western feel, how about two, side-by-side wooden barn-doors? Add an extra dimension of personality with large, heavy iron hinges that flow from the doors’ sides and extend to the opposite sides, where both halves of the gate meet. This type of strap hinge would garner immediate attention; and your courtyard gate would become an instant conversation piece!
Bi-fold wooden doors or panels can be an exquisite addition to your courtyard entrance, with the tops of each door displaying a half arch. When closed, the half arches would come together to form a perfectly-rounded top. Dark wooden gates with generous amounts of iron embellishments are beautifully conducive to stucco or plastered courtyard walls and stone or slate walkways that reflect an old ranch or hacienda atmosphere.
An iron courtyard gate would, also, be dynamic; but regardless of material used, a courtyard gate should be designed to act as a true focal point that blends in with the surroundings yet stands out as a focal point, as well.
Cold weather can cause some issues with your gate operators. These are some potential problems and solutions that might save you an invoice from your friendly gate repair man.
- Slower to open
- Consistently only opens after multiple attempts
- Movement is choppy or sporadic
- Squeaking or other new sounds
- Stays open, won’t close
Tips to remedy:
- Make sure your hinges, rollers and bearing surfaces are well greased.
- Disconnect cables from the battery. Clean corrosion, dirt, other debris from the ends of the cables as well as battery terminals.
- Check that your photo eye (and possible receiver) are free of obstruction. Remove leaves, snow, sleet, etc. We apply RainX https://www.amazon.com/Rain-X-800002250-Glass-Treatment-Trigger/dp/B000BVRZ74 to help shed the water.
- If it still not working, it is likely time to check the battery. We like using Batteries Plus – https://www.batteriesplus.com/
- If you don’t have a photo eye, it is a required UL-325 safeguard against entrapment that we put on all new gate operators that we install (and recommend adding if we are asked to repair operators we have not installed).
- If your battery is over 2 years old, it is likely time for a new one.
You take great pride in the gate you own. It’s a reflection of your home’s ambiance, your unique personality, your special interests or your business’ brand. Not only should your cherished gate be well maintained, but your gate’s operator does too.
Even though higher-quality automatic gate openers are embedded in more secure enclosures for added protection – and even though higher-quality circuit boards are more resistant to damage – there is no gate opener that is impervious to everything life throws its way. There are things an owner can do, however, to ensure any gate opener performs beautifully for as long as possible.
Here are a few tips to make sure that happens:
Protect Your Gate Operator from Pests
To keep pest damage at bay, it is vital that a yearly maintenance program be established by a pest-control professional. Insects and other pests can reek havoc on electrical equipment. The slime trail from something as innocent as snails, as well as spider webs that have collected dew, are surprisingly conductive and will damage or destroy a circuit board. Then, there are bee nests which will corrode circuitry.
Gate openers, in particular, are very attractive to insects and small varmints that seek protection from the elements. Some commonly discoverd critters found in gate opener boxes include:
- Fire-ant mounds
- Rodents, and
Ants in particular are attracted to low electrical voltage. Rodents enjoy nesting in equipment housings. Surprisingly, built up insect carcasses can cause a short, and damage one or more components.
Just like a car or in-ground pool that require a yearly ‘check up’, gate operators require the same. Pest-control professionals will know what to look for regarding insect damage; they will clean any areas that may be infested, and utilize products as preventative measures to keep pests from returning.
Lubricate Your Gate Operators Parts
Regardless of whether one owns a lower-end or higher-end gate system, they should all receive proactive care to ensure optimal performance.
Parts will need to be lubricated to combat potential mechanical issues. Wire connections need to be adequately tightened to ensure no electrical problems develop. Also, testing all equipment, including any automatic gate operators, is crucial.
Nipping minor issues in the bud before they become more-costly issues will keep your gate opener and the entire gate system, running smoothly.
Establish A Maintenance Contract
A maintenance contract may or may not include insect inspection and prevention, as mentioned, but a maintenance contract, in and of itself, is your best bet to maintain and maximize your gate operator’s integrity and longevity. Maintenance contracts vary and run the gamut from ‘basic’ to ‘fully comprehensive’ – all dependent on how much you wish to spend, the quality of the gate system and how frequently the gate is used. A basic version may offer a once-a-year inspection while a more elaborate maintenance contract could offer every amenity, possible, including 4 annual inspections, complimentary replacement on parts, regular discounts, and more.
Gate operators are complex machines; and unless one has the knowledge it takes to maintain these devices, the results can prove to be disastrous. A highly-trained gate operator professional has the expertise to successfully calibrate the gate opener to allow the gate to precisely open and close, on command.
Take care of your gate operator and it will take care of your gate – for a long time!
If you have decided to install an automatic swing-open or slide-open gate for your home or business, then you have been faced with the challenge of deciding which brand to go through. You’ll need to analyze what you need and the requirements for your project. While there are many brands to choose from, individually observing each one and its specific details will help you establish which one will best fit your needs. Let’s take a look at eight different leading names in the gate business.
The first brand we’ll look at is Apollo. They are a San Antonio based company that has been trusted since 1984. They offer both swing-open and slide-open options, as well as barrier arms. One of their unique qualities is their solar powered feature advantages. You have the choice to install a power-saving energy harness within your gate system.
A second brand to observe would be All-o-matic. This brand prides themselves on being the only ones who offer a complete line of AC and DC (automatic circuit and digital circuit) swing gate openers. They promise to cater to all your needs within the whole package of gate installation, from small accessories to battery back-ups and everything in between.
Linear is another brand choice. This company’s focal point is their radio frequency remote controls. They are also part of the GTO Access Systems group and represent themselves professionally and thoroughly. In addition to these facts, they are also the largest online selection for all your gating needs.
LiftMaster is also a highly recommended brand for gate operators. Their products have been trusted for 45 years. One of their specific selling points is their ability to build in smart phone connection and control with your gate devices. They also offer battery back-up for automatic circuits.
One other brand to consider is Elite. Elite prides themselves on being the leading provider of highest quality products for swing-open and slide-open gates and barrier arms (as well as a plethora of other products). They promise to offer excellent customer service and assist their customers with any and every need. They assure their employees are well-informed with product know-how and will easily be able to accompany the needs of their clients.
U.S. Automatic is another well-received gating brand. Their company has been manufacturing for 21 years and their products are widely used all across the states. Their focal point is low-voltage options to save power and to save you money. Solar options can be found within this brand as well.
Finally, the last of the popular options would be CellGate. They offer all cellular technology options for your gate system. These communication processes are made possible through antennas set up on the exterior of the gate.
So, in closing, if one of these options ends up working for you and your particular needs, contact your local dealer or distributor to install your gate system.
Iron is a universal construction material utilized in every corner of the globe. Iron has immense strength and is easy to work with during welding, riveting and cutting. Architects, designers and general contractors covet metal due to its durability, workability and low-maintenance. Metals, such as aluminum, copper, iron, steel and titanium offer a clean look, striking beauty and extreme versatility.
Cast iron and wrought iron are two distinct materials; and each has a specific purpose in the construction industry. Cast iron is most-often used in large architectural projects, with the dome of the US Capital, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty being only a sampling or architectural wonders where cast iron was utilized. Wrought iron is very commonly used to make items such as beams, trusses and girders.
Here are three overly-famous structures that utilized iron during their construction:
The Trump Tower is one of the lavish residences of billionaire, President-Elect Donald Trump; and his own Trump Tower rivals any residential, office or retail building in the world. Located in Midtown Manhattan within the concrete jungle of New York City, the Trump Tower boasts of 58 actual stories, though the top story is numbered ’68’ since it incorporates an expansive public atrium that is 10 stories high. This mammoth structure presented its grand opening on Valentine’s Day in 1983. The Trump Tower remains one of New York’s most-distinctive, most-visited attractions. Standing at 664 feet, the Trump Tower was designed to withstand severe winds and minor earthquakes.
The bottom 26 floors consist of luxury office space; and the commercial tenants receive continual world-class service. Residential condos take up 39 floors where one will find 270 very posh pads. It is, here, where mega-wealthy residents include private citizens as well as a multitude of celebrities who call Trump Tower their home. During the first 4 months after Trump Tower opened, 95% of the condos were sold, despite their costly price tags which ranged from $600,000 a piece to a mere $12 million! Mr. Trump, himself, lives in the primary penthouse condominium.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is an architectural masterpiece, and connects the thriving city of San Francisco to its neighbors on the other side of the mile-wide Golden Gate Strait. It might surprise you to know that early plans to construct a bridge at this location were initiated as early as 1919; but it wasn’t until 1933 that the construction journey began, with the bridge’s unveiling to the public in 1937.
Approval for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was not an easy task, however, since immense opposition emerged from the very beginning. A variety of reasons became entrenched in the battle to thwart the bridge’s construction – ideas such as the bridge impeding the shipping industry, marring the natural beauty of the landscape, and the bridge’s presumed inability to withstand a strong earthquake. Nonetheless, the naysayers were outnumbered; and January 5 of 1933 marked the excavation of 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt to make way for the bridge’s anchorages that would tower 12 stories high!
Once the towers were completed, the construction of the suspension cables began. It was, here, where engineers mastered a technique where individual steel wires could be banded together in spools and transported across the bridge’s length on spinning wheels. Due to this genius idea, the amount of time to construct the suspension cables was cut in half – a mere 6+ months! Interestingly, more than 25,000 individual wires were used for each 7,650-foot cable.
In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Golden Gate Bridge as one of the seven civil engineering wonders in America.
Custom Gates at Buckingham Palace
The Buckingham Palace of London is another architectural feat that represents the epitome of man’s ability to visualize, design and create. This fabulous palace occupies more than 830,000 square feet of living space; and all of the 775 rooms are exquisite in their own right. Outside the palace walls, one will find iconic structures that are exquisite, as well – the custom iron gates that dot the estate’s perimeter. Various fanciful gates embellish the palace’s various entrances; but it is the huge center gate that is especially noteworthy. The massive, 20-foot tall, wrought iron and bronze masterpieces are designed with arched tops, gold finials, heavy iron rods, and extremely-ornate artwork. Each half of the bi-fold gates are adorned with a 3-dimensional British National Seal, also known as the British Royal Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms are embraced by a bronze lion and a bronze unicorn, to the left and to the right of the crest, respectively.
All the iron gates on the royal property were completed by the Bromsgrove Guild in 1911. The guild, which survived until the early 1960’s, worked with metal and other mediums to create breathtaking works of art – the most-famous creation being the main gates of Buckingham Palace.
Before the wheel was ever invented – around 3500 BC – metal fabrication was absolutely thriving! Metal manipulation, for the sake of fabrication, is unarguably historic and very specialized. Metal manipulation utilized to create everything from utensils to gates to towering skyscrapers permeates every corner of the industrialized world; and without it, life as we know it would, most certainly, cease to exist.
Iron gates are timeless; and their history dates back thousands of years. They offer classic sophistication, unrivaled durability and enhanced security. Maintaining these beauties – whether wrought iron or cast iron — is not difficult as long as a little proactive TLC is part of a regime to keep rust, at bay. Rain, snow, salt and humidity will eventually take its toll on even iron, if left unchecked, and rust formation will begin. With that being said, nearly all ferrous metals rust, but wrought iron is a high-quality steel with few impurities which means it takes a longer time for rust to form – it is rust resistant, but not rust-proof.
If you cherish your iron gate and want to keep it regularly maintained; all you will need are a few simple tools; and your gate will maintain is beauty and durability for many, many decades!
A Wire Brush, Scraper and/or Electric Drill
If you have an iron gate that shows signs of flaking or rust formation, a wire brush is the perfect tool to combat the issue. The steel bristles work, beautifully, to scrub away any loose paint or debris, especially in areas that are hard to reach, such as scrolled areas or twisted rods. Rounded areas, such as these can be a challenge to completely reach; and it is then that a wire-wheel attachment on a drill comes in very handy or an oscillating multi-tool that can sand, scrape and grind. Then, there are sandblasters that can be used to remove rust formation if you have the required space to use one. Flat surfaces, too, are conducive to electric tools; but it you wish to do it the old-fashioned way, a wire brush can be used or a coarse file.
For stubborn areas of an iron fence where removing rust may be more difficult, spray phosphoric acid in tinier areas; and any remaining rust will turn into loose, black flakes, within 24 hours. These flakes can be effortlessly eliminated with a stainless-steel wire hole-cleaning brush. Wire, hole-cleaning brushes are specially designed to clean recessed surfaces very effectively. Don’t forget to wear a dust mask to ensure you don’t breathe in any older paint (if present) that could contain lead.
Regular Paint Brushes
Applying a generous coat of oil-based metal primer on completely-cleaned wrought iron is an important step to prevent future rust formation; and a good-quality paint brush would be all you would need. Once the primer is completely dry, another good quality paint brush for the application of an oil-based metal paint should be part of your gate maintenance toolbox. As a side note, do not use a regular exterior paint for your iron gate since this type of product does not contain the necessary rust inhibiting components that DTM (direct-to-metal) paints do.
Fighting corrosion doesn’t have to become a battle as long as iron-gate maintenance is dedicated and proactive. Keep paint brushes on hand so you will be able to touch up any dings with some primer and paint, once each year.
Keeping your property looking its best is important to you; and it doesn’t require the cost of a professional landscaper to ensure your home’s first impression remains top-notch. A manicured lawn, for example, can be a beautiful thing to behold; but what if there are eyesores on your property that take away from the pristine appearance you desire?
Garden hoses, air-conditioning units, trash and recycle containers, water meters and electrical boxes are only a small sampling of unsightly items that can minimize your home’s exterior ambiance. The good news is, those blemishes can be easily hidden in attractive, creative ways. With that being said, however, some items such as electrical boxes would require approval from local utility companies before being hidden or covered. Here are a few ways to keep necessary imperfections hidden from view.
AC units are bulky and hardly attractive; but covering these units isn’t a problem, in spite of their size. Simply purchase wooden or vinyl lattice screening that would surround the unit on 2 or 3 sides, depending on the layout. Keep in mind, AC units require 2 to 3 feet of room around them for air to successfully circulate.
Lattice screens with attractive toppers can be purchased from home-improvement stores and are easily put together. The open weave design would allow plenty of required airflow, but would still offer substantial camouflage. Planting some low-lying plants around the base of the screening would add additional aesthetics. With this simple beauty solution, this part of your property could look as if it received a noticeable facelift!
Garden hoses rolled up along the side or back of a home may look moderately neat; but why not go from ‘moderately neat’ to ‘fabulously cute’? The solution is an easy one: simple build or purchase a box-shaped wooden planter! The boxed area would contain the coiled garden hose with a drilled hole in the back to feed the hose through. The topper, or lid, for the box would be completely removable for easy access to the hose; but it could, also, be recessed to accommodate soil for planting flowers. Voile`! With very little effort, this small area of your home will take on a charming touch!
Propane tanks are not designed with beauty in mind; but hiding them is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Planting attractive greenery or grasses around propane tanks is a wonderful way to conceal while adding optimal appeal. Plants to consider would be New Zealand Wind Grass and Mint Bush which would provide a good deal of beauty and perennial heartiness and dependability.
New Zealand Wind Grass is gorgeous, fast-growing, highly-durable and elegant; and is a favorite of landscape designers. Dense, fountain-like clumps will grow to about 3-feet tall and wide, and are drought and deer tolerant as well as requiring only the most basic of minimal care.
Mint Bush is another dynamic choice for hiding propane tanks; and it will serve as an erect evergreen shrub with a touchable, soft feel. This little beauty will grow up to 6 feet tall; and will expand as much as 5 feet in width depending on which of the 90-plus varieties one might choose. Aside from a pleasant aroma, small tubular flowers will bloom at the branch tips which contribute to this hearty plant’s denseness and ability to exquisitely hide anything unattractive behind it.
If your yard is embedded with one or more vertical pipes, you will be amazed at how easily you can make those permanent ’embellishments’ disappear! Septic tank access pipes, for example, conspicuously protrude from the ground and remain unsightly. That type of blemish can be effortlessly rectified: simply cover these unwanted items with fake rocks which are open on the bottom end and come in a vast array of sizes – some as large as boulders. Some faux rocks or boulders are designed to be staked into the ground to prevent being blown over by heavy winds.
If your home’s downspouts don’t need replacing but just feel glaringly unattractive, cover them. Vines of the petite variety, that aren’t weighty, are a beautiful solution for turning the downspout beast into a handsome prince. Some varieties of petite vines are more advantageous than others since some will more easily withstand high winds and climb no more than a height of about 15 feet and not invade your roof space. Some minimal pruning, however, may be required.
A few small-vine varieties that would be excellent candidates for covering downspouts would be Avalanche evergreen clematis, Blueberry Vine, Annual Sweet Pea and Cup and Saucer Vine.
These clever design strategies can transform your home’s curb appeal from ‘adequate’ to ‘outstanding’, with little investment and minimal effort!
Privacy is a coveted thing, especially when you are in the comfort of your own home. Glaring headlights, pedestrian traffic, road noise, and even wind can hinder the level of enjoyment and privacy in a yard. When choosing how to make your own yard more private, there are many practical possibilities to achieve that goal. A few factors to consider are style, maintenance, and the level of privacy, and possibly security, that you are looking for.
Custom Gate and Fence
A custom gate and fence will ensure year-round coverage and the ultimate level of privacy to your yard. There are a variety of styles and materials to choose from – wrought iron to wood planks, stone to synthetic – giving your home curb appeal and unique sense of style. Once installed, a custom gate and fence will also provide security with a low amount of maintenance. Wood generally only needs to be painted or stained every few years, while other materials require even less attention. To provide even more originality, simply add a row of annuals or shrubs or choose tall-growing perennials to add an extra level of screening. No matter what material or style you choose, it is important to check with local building codes before installing a custom gate or fence.
Hedges are a beautiful and environmentally friendly way to add privacy to your space. It’s essentially a living fence! Your climate will determine the type of hedge or shrub you choose, but there are a wide variety of plants to suit the style of your home. Hedges not only provide wonderful ambiance and privacy, they are very effective at blocking wind and road noise. However, they do require frequent trimming to keep them looking manicured. For a more natural look that requires less maintenance, you may choose to use shrubs planted tightly together. Either option is sure to create a peaceful and private oasis.
Lattice is easy to install and usually less expensive than a traditional fence or hedge, but still an effective option when it comes to privacy. Some might feel it unnecessary to enclose an entire yard, in which case, lattice can be a wonderful solution. Because it can be found in varying heights, it can be used wherever a bit of intimacy is desired. Lattice can be found in a variety of patterns and styles, as well, each allowing for vines, flowering shrubs, crawling roses, or ivy to flourish. While lattice alone aids in privacy, foliage imparts an additional feeling of seclusion. Although it may require a bit more attention than some of the previously mentioned methods and will not lend the same level of durability, it will undoubtedly give your yard a distinctive charm.
The options for creating a private yard are truly endless and as unique as the homeowner. As you can see, within each aforementioned category is a variety of additional choices. While deciding which path to take, know that any choice will provide a level of intimacy and beauty to your home and add value to your property, all while displaying your personal style.
Adding a gate to your property is a wonderful way to add value, give curb appeal, or aid in the security of your home. There are a number of things to consider when looking for a material for your gate design. Cost, maintenance, and durability are important factors, but the purpose for the gate is equally significant. Whether the gate is intended for pedestrians or cars, for security or decoration, determining the function of the gate will heavily effect your decision. A final item to consider is the style of your home and the design of the gate. Consistency between the two is essential in order to create a connection between the home and the outdoor structure.
Iron is known for its beauty and durability and has been used in many historic districts and buildings. This proves that wrought iron makes a wonderful choice for those looking for a gate that provides high security, as well as a grand statement. Iron is remarkably strong and inflexible, which can make it difficult to install, but it ensures that any structure made from it will remain intact for years to come. These qualities may cancel out its relatively high price tag. Aside from longevity and looks, it can withstand excessive wear and tear, with little maintenance. However, due to the nature of wrought iron, oxidation will eventually cause it to rust. Some may be happy with the patina and see it as character and charm that comes with the territory. Those who aren’t fond of the rust can simply sand off and paint, but this does add to the level of maintenance required. This stately, durable material may not be as versatile as others, but would add a truly unique touch to the right home.
Aluminum has many positive aspects. Like most gates, an aluminum version will also offer style and security. It is lightweight and easy to handle, making this option attractive for those looking for easy installment. It is extremely durable and will withstand the test of time and weather, making this option a very practical one. What really sets aluminum apart from other materials, however, is that this material requires very little maintenance – nothing more than a simple cleaning from time to time. Aluminum gates can be painted, but a more effective and environmentally friendly option is powder coating. Powder coating uses no solvents, which eliminates pollutants in the atmosphere. Another positive quality of powder coating is that it is more durable than paint and therefore much less likely to scratch or fade. Initially aluminum will cost more than other materials, such as wood, but due to the lack of maintenance, it will end up costing less. Needless to say, the addition of an aluminum gate makes an excellent investment.
A wood gate is a very traditional and versatile option. It tends to be less costly than aluminum or wrought iron. It is also an attractive choice because it is easy to customize the gate to the style of your home. There are many types of wood gates to choose from and it can also be painted or stained to achieve the desired look. While wood is durable, it should be noted that weather takes its toll on wood. Regularly treating or staining the gate is necessary to protect it from the elements. This results in a lot of maintenance. The function of the gate will also determine whether or not wood is the best choice. The weight of the wood can cause the gate to sag, which may limit the distance it can cover. While wood does require care and has some limitations, it is timeless and highly customizable, making it a classic choice.
When choosing a gate, you can see there are many things to consider. No matter what medium is right for you, the addition of a gate will create a beautiful finishing touch on any home.