How to stop your garden gate from sticking in cold weather: 4 quick fixes for timber gates

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Wooden garden gates can quickly become sticky and stiff as the weather changes late in the autumn months. The cold, wet weather can wreak havoc on wooden doors and gates when exposed to the elements in your garden, making them hard to open and tricky to shut. While switching to a weather-proof material is certainly an option, there are a few things you can try to solve the problem first.

Why do wooden gates warp?

Your timber garden gate is probably getting stuck because it has changed shape.

The very nature of wooden structures like doors and gates is that they can bend and twist as they absorb rainwater and dry out again.

When your wooden gate is constantly exposed to changing temperatures and weather conditions, it can quickly re-shape, leaving it out of touch with the space it once fit into.

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Timber is composed of long fibres which support the tree and allow water to move freely at the top of – but what happens when the timber is cut?

The wood is then dried out thoroughly before being cut into large planks which are used to make wooden gates and other structures.

It really is all about the moisture content of your gate which will determine how much it sticks after heavy rainfall.

According to the Wooden Gate Company, the best wooden gates are made from timber which has been left to equalise its moisture content with the surrounding humidity:

  • In the summer this is about 14 percent
  • In the winter this is anywhere up to 20 percent

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How to stop a garden gate from sticking

Stopping your wooden garden from absorbing too much water and becoming misshapen is the key to reducing stiffness and stickiness.

Apply varnish

Coating your timber gate with varnish will create an impenetrable barrier for rainwater to run off, rather than seep into.

Preventing rainwater and frosted particles from soaking into the wood will prevent it from retaining a high percentage of water and warping the shape.

Timber lamination

Timber lamination is the joining of timbers along their length in numerous layers which is done to improve strength and stability.

This works particularly well for wooden gates that are prone to sticking because it creates a stronger, straighter structure which is far less likely to twist or bend due to the weather.

Modern adhesives are used in large lamination clamps which pressure warped and twisted timber into a straighter structure and will hold for years to come.

This is also a cost effective way to fix sticky timber structures, as it uses existing wood and prolongs the life of your garden gate.

Check posts and hinges

Wobbly posts and loose hinges could also be to blame if you have a sticky gate.

This will be more noticeable all year round, even when there is little rainfall and the weather is warmer – so pay close attention to when your gate is sticking.

Check hinges to see if they wobble and look into the base of your gate post to see if it shakes.

If you notice either part of the gate moving freely, there are two simple fixes:

  • Drive stakes down into the ground at the base of the gate post and connect the post to the stakes with a bolt
  • Spray hinges with WD-40 if they’re rusted or stiff – replace if beyond repair

Check the frame

If you’re still struggling to identify the cause of a sticky gate, it could be the actual frame that’s causing the issue.

Carefully observe your gate to check whether the frame is squared off.

If it is noticeably bent, you can straighten it up using a turnbuckle kit – a device used to adjust tension and reduce slack in an existing structure like a wooden frame.

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