Can I put a door lock on a gate?

Close-up picture of a door lock on a green wooden door on the left. On the right a wooden gate lock on a white wooden gate with digital keypad

When deciding on lock for your gate, you might be tempted to buy a door lock and install it. After all, a gate is just an outside door. Same, but different right?

As gate hardware experts, we know this isn’t true. So instead of asking “Can I put a door lock on a gate?” we ask, should you put a door lock on a gate? And our answer is no.

Here’s why.

Environment

A main difference between a door and a gate is of course where it is located. Gates are external structures, and the hardware should therefore be made to suit this.

That means ensuring you choose a weather and corrosion resistant lock. Door locks and latches generally don’t have to have the same level of weather resistance as external gate locks. For a more reliable and durable lock, go for one specifically designed for the environment you’re putting it in.


Tolerances

You might think that a front door lock would suffice then. Surely it is weather resistant at least. You may be right, but!

Locks for external front doors are made to withstand the weather to a certain extent but raises the question of tolerance. Gates generally have more tolerance than doors, as internal door requirements such as sound blocking and privacy aren’t such a concern. The material of the gate and hinges used can also play a part.

Material

Depending on the material for your gate, it might require more tolerance. Wooden gates especially are notoriously known to shift, swell and retract during the seasons. The lock has to be able to accommodate these shifts while remaining functional throughout the year.

Front door locks are again not made to accommodate this. Commonly fitted n places where the door is not directly exposed to the elements, these locks don’t have as much tolerance. Fitting a door lock to an external gate can easily result in the lock not latching properly if the gate shifts.

Hinges

Door hinges in general have to be very precise to ensure the door sits flush within the door frame and doesn’t bind anywhere.

Gates are again a different situation. The hinges are generally less precise but more heavy-duty so they can carry the weight of the heavy wood or metal gates. The lock therefore needs to allow for this lack of precision. Choosing a door lock for a gate will probably have too small a throw to cope with the gap in between the gate and the post.


Size

Another consideration to make is the thickness of door the lock is made to suit. Doors are usually a lot thinner than the standard gate – especially when it comes to wooden gates.

Standard door locks aren’t made to cope with doors above a certain thickness and won’t work out of the box on gates with a thicker section. Although you can get longer cylinders, if necessary, it may not be easy to source the correct size that you need.


Installation

The most common lock you find on doors, is the mortice or insert lock, which requires a slot to insert the lock into. If you’re wanting to install this yourself, you’ll have to chisel this in a wooden gate. Unless you’re a master carpenter, this can be tricky to do with a clean finish.

You’ll usually find a variety of installation options when looking into gate locks, of which surface-fixed is a popular choice for wooden gates. These can be easier to install for the DIY enthusiasts.

If you’ve got a metal gate, you will need the correct tools and drill bits for cutting metal. Your supplier should be able to help you choose a suitable gate lock and aid in installing it. If you want tips to find the right lock for your gate, we have created a little guide to help.


Should you put a door lock on a gate?

Gate locks are designed specifically to withstand the outdoor elements. Often made from corrosion resistant materials like stainless steel, they will be a reliable choice compared to a standard door lock.

Locks for wooden gates also have some specific requirements you need to consider when choosing your lock. The changing organic material needs a lock with higher tolerance, which you can learn more about in this article. Door locks do not have the same high tolerance and again won’t be suitable for timber gates.

So, if you’re still considering fitting a door lock to your external gate, we recommend you don’t. Our recommendation would be to look into the external gate lock options out there and use the research to decide which one is the most useful for you and your gate.

Looking for a place to start? Have a look at some of our gate hardware guides below.

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