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PRO FENCE DESIGN BLOG

About Vinyl Fence Gates

The most frequently used section of your fence is the gate. All gates are not created equal and the best ones provide design and structural benefits. Learn more below about what you should expect to see on your property. 

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SUBMITTED:       PRO FENCE Design

POSTED:               November 2023

We have seen a growing trend in vinyl gate construction, and unfortunately their demise. The theme in good vs. bad gate construction is in its manufacturing process and your contractors' commitment to quality materials.  

This article addresses the two common manufacturing and install methods for gates - bar tensioned, or crossmember, trussed, and welded. Knowing these differences can help you be on the look-out for a cheap shortcut that will cost you more in the long run. 

BAR TENSIONED  - For Amateurs

This method is most common in second tier installer groups, economical brands, or off-the-shelf home center product lines.  The engineering behind this method does not stand the test of time and has the tendency to show its flaws immediately. 

 

A bar-tensioned (or worse, wire-tensioned) vinyl gate is a cheap shortcut in gate design. It is nothing more than a short fence panel across which a steel or aluminum bar is tensioned to provide rigidity and "square" a make-shift gate. The gate frame has no internal structure and the corners may be fastened with rivets which are both unsightly and weak under stress. A common trait of this construction includes seeing the gate built on site by installers. Such results in uneven lines and the feeling the entire gate flexes when opened. Also, since the tension bracket is on the outside of the gate, users often use this bar as the handle to open and close the gate, further weakening the gate. If your installer is strapping a tension bar to your gate, keep their number on speed dial as you will be calling them often for adjustments and/or replacement.

CROSSMEMBER, TRUSSED, WELDED - The Professional and Durable Option

Double or single cross members on the back of the gate is a tell-tell sign of a solid build. For smaller gates you may not see a cross member but they should be internally "trussed".  A "truss" is a threaded tensioner that provides internal structural tension to a gate to keep it square for years. 

 

Crossmember constructed and/or trussed gates are built to spec in the factory. Crossmember(s) are neatly secured to the gate with buttoned fasteners. Trussed gates have internal tensioners buttoned to the outside edges of each gate. For both manufacturing techniques, the top, bottom, and gate sides are heavy duty vinyl pieces set inside each or welded together at 45-degree, picture-frame angles. This build technique also provides more vinyl material to which stainless-steel hinges and latches can be firmly secured...equally essential to a long-lasting gate.

 

Combined, these manufacturing techniques will eliminate gate "sag", maintain straight thresholds and ensure the gate opens and closes smoothly for the length of its warranty.  A well constructed vinyl gate can also survive "hard closes" and any unintentional bumps when landscapers enter your property. Reputable manufacturers and licensed installers should provide you at least 20-years warranty on factory-built gates. 

AVOID...
"bar tensioned" gates that have an unsightly tension bar and/or riveted gate sides become loose and crooked after installation.  This is NOT the construction you want to see on your property. 

DEMAND... 
"crossmember" or "trussed" gates have button-
fastened, crisscross beams and/or internal steel structures
 for rigidity.  Confirm with your contractor this build standard so that you can use your gate with frequency for many years. 

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