Can I use butt hinges to hang wooden gates?

So you’re all ready to hang your wooden gates and you’ve decided to opt for butt hinges…Stop! Don’t do it! So why don’t we use butt hinges to hang wooden gates? If you’re unsure where butt hinges are normally used then you probably don’t know why you shouldn’t use them on any externally opening door (i.e. a side-hung garage door) or driveway gates or garden gates.

If you don’t know what a butt hinge (left) is, it’s a hinge usually found on a timber front or back door or on your internal doors. That’s what it is made for and they are perfectly fine used for that purpose and will give you years of trouble-free operation. However, butt hinges for wooden gates are a no no.

For a start, a gate (if it’s a decently made gate) is normally a lot heavier than your front or back doors and certainly more weightier than any internal door you have. Secondly, your gates can be a lot wider than a 3ft wide door, meaning the hinges cannot cope with this additional load and thirdly, a gate is open to the weather both sides – meaning it may take a beating from the weather, whereas, a front, back or internal door is not, so the hinges are internally protected from the great British elements.

Wooden gates hung with butt hinges – what’s the worst that could happen?

We don’t recommend installing your gates for a number of reasons:

    A gate hung with butt hinges can quite easily be ripped from its hinges in the wind.

In extreme cases, if your gate is not secured shut (i.e. the postman left it open, you’ll shut it when the wind has died down…) and the wind gets up and swings the gate wide open then in all likelihood, your gate will be ripped off its hinges, flung God knows where, causing all sorts of destruction, and may be in need or repair or replacement if you can find it! Don’t believe me – try it with an internal door now, open it as wide as you can go…. if you try and open further than it is meant to go, you’ll soon find the screws pulling out of either the frame or the door (ok you can stop before you ruin your door and/or frame!) – this is what can happen if the wind catches your gates .

    As gates are an external commodity, they need a certain amount of clearance for the clear passage of air, normally at least a 10mm gap between gate and post; with a butt hinge you’ll get around 4mm at most.

Being external, gates need clearances. This is for the clear passage of air, meaning the wind will blow out any water sitting between the gate and gate post, which in turn will stop the gate from rotting. Butt hinges will give you, at most, a gap of around 4mm, meaning you’ll still get some air flow, but it will be greatly reduced, meaning you may as well have your gates sitting in water.

    Gates can be a lot wider than an internal door and need a bigger hinge.

Gates can be quite wide and quite heavy, so you need a hinge that is larger than a butt hinge. As a rule of thumb, the hinge on a gate should be approximately one third of the width of the gate – I’ve not seen a 24 inch wide butt hinge!

So what hinges can you use to hang your gates?

There is a vast choice available; ideally, you want the length of your hinges to be approximately a third of the width of the gate that it will be fitted to; for a 3ft wide gate, choose a 12 inch hinge. You also need to ensure that your hinge will bolt in at least one place to the gate; most hinges made for gates have at least one bolt hole, this makes them a lot stronger! After all that, if you’re STILL intent on hanging your gates with butt hinges, then good luck to you! We have tried to warn you…!

A band and gudgeon hinge, a proper gate hinge

A Band & Gudgeon hinge, made for gates and garage doors.

Call Ted & The Team

For quality workmanship by time-served Joiners:

Call Ted & The Team on 01745 362444

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