How to find the right lock for your gate

Share This

How do you figure out which gate lock is the right one for you and your gate?

To help, we have made a handy guide with some key considerations to help you find the lock you need. Whether you want to find a lock yourself or need advice, knowing the answers to the below 7 questions will go a long way in your search for the right gate lock.

Question 1: Why are you having a gate/fence in the first place?

Before we start diving into the specifics of gates and gate locks, it is important you keep the “why” in mind: Why did you decide to put up a gate and fence in the first place?

A common reason is of course security. As a home or business owner, you want to send a strong signal to outsiders to stay out and gates help you do that. The gate will be the first barrier for them to get through, so having a strong and secure gate lock goes a long way.

Equally important to many is safety as gates and fences also act as a barrier to busy roads or areas. You might be putting it up to ensure your children can play safely in the garden.

Other reasons are to get privacy, increase curb appeal, keep unauthorised vehicles and unwanted animals out. These are just a few reasons for getting a gate and you want to take this into account when finding the right lock and gate hardware for your gate.

Question 2: Where is it?

The next step in finding the right gate lock is to think about where the gate will be located. There are many different considerations to make so we will run through a few of them to get you on the right track.

keypad lock on temporary fencing

Geographical location: Will the gate be located in a climate that is especially corrosive? This could be close to the sea or in areas with a lot of rain as humid sea air corrodes metal up to 10 times faster than normal air. In these instances, you should choose a lock made from a corrosion resistant material such as stainless steel (like the Gatemaster Superlock).

Commercial or residential? This can influence the style, quality and convenience factors of the lock required, depending on how frequently it is used. For example, in a commercial space like an industrial estate, large factory, or warehouse, the lock will most likely be getting more frequent use than if it is used on your gate at home.

For parking lots or large industrial facilities, sliding gates are commonly used and this will affect which types and styles of lock you can use, as not all locks will work for sliding gates. Knowing the purpose and type of gate is therefore a crucial consideration when choosing the right lock for your gate.

For large sites, you might need to operate the gate from inside the building, using an intercom system. This means you need to get power to the gate. Contact a gate automation specialist to discuss convenient options depending on your budget and level of security needed.

Question 3: Who and how many?

We’ve covered why and where, so it only makes sense to touch upon the who and how many next.

The who of course refers to the people who will be using the gate. If the gate is for your home, think about who will go through it every day and how. Will your children require access when they get home from school? Or will you need to have a hold-open function to let your handyman in and out when working? Does anyone with a wheelchair or disability need to use the gate?

hand opening external gate lock handle

There are a wide range of locks with functions worth including to make the gate work how you want. It might be a good idea to have a quick exit push pad or a panic bar on the inside if the gate is in a location where a large number of people need to leave in case of an emergency. Or you might want keypad access to avoid paying for new keys to be cut and handed out if residents lose their keys. Another consideration is installing a gate closer – do you need the gate to close automatically after use?

Question 4: What is the material of the gate?

We now move onto the specifics of the actual gate as the material of the gate determines how the lock is fitted to the gate. If it is a metal gate, you have the choice between weld-in, bolt-on, morticed or surface-fixed lock; all four types have their own benefits.

For wooden gates, your options are more limited. We recommend using surface-fixed locks for wooden gates, as you can easily fit them with the appropriate wood screws. The other option is to mortice a lock into a wooden gate. This can be more difficult, so you might need an experienced gate manufacturer or someone with carpentry skills, but it is a very unobtrusive and neat solution.

keypad lock for wooden gate
Keypad lock on wooden gate

But it is not just the material of the gate that matters. Every lock has a latch or a deadbolt which needs a receiving slot or a keep. The keep is attached to the gate post, which can be brick, steel, wood, or concrete posts. Check how the keep or receiving slot is fixed and ensure you have the right fixing kit to install it correctly.

Question 5: What is the style of the gate?

When you on decided the style of the gate, it probably came down to preference or style of surrounding buildings. You might then also have a preference to which lock type you want.

welded key lock metal gate
Weld-in lock shown in decorative metal gate with scroll work.

Weld-in locks and mortice locks are integrated into the gate frame itself. A weld-in lock box is welded into the gate frame before galvanising and painting. Mortice locks are inserted into a pre-cut slot in the gate frame (suitable for metal and wood). These two locks are therefore popular for gates where you want an inconspicuous lock, such as traditional wrought iron gates.


surface-fixed keyless lock on wooden gate
Surfaced-fixed lock on a wooden gate

For bolt-on and surface-fixed locks, they are more on show as they are either bolted onto the side of the gate or fixed to the front and back of the gate as shown below. Bolt-on locks are more suited for metal gates whereas surface-fixed locks are more frequently used on wooden gates.

Your lock choice therefore varies whether you want it to be incorporated into the gate or one that’s quick to fit.

If relevant, another decision to make is which handles to choose, as these can change the overall look of the lock. For a modern and sleek metal gate, a lock with ornate handles won’t fit and will stand out. Instead, a modern gate should have a modern and simple handle to go with it. For traditional gates, a simple handle might look odd, and a more twisted or ornamental handle will be better suited.

Small details such as this might seem less relevant, however personal style and preferences play into this. Offering different handle options mean a simple lock can suit both traditional, modern, and even unconventional or custom-designed gates.

Question 6: What is the distance between gate and gate post?

The distance between the gate and gate post determines what length your lock will need and the bigger distance, the bigger throw. For a long throw, you need the latch bolt to extend more to reach the keep on the gate post.

This is worth keeping in mind early on as your gate is made as many locks on the market don’t have tolerance for larger gaps.

However, don’t fret if your gate has already been installed and it has a big distance. There are other ways to help your lock reach the gate post.

One of these is by installing a lock keep, which sits on the gate post and allows the locking bolt to latch into it. Some keeps are designed with extra security features which help protect the latch from being pried back with tools as they hide it behind angled metal brackets, as the example below.

gate keep in metal gate with latch deadlock
Gatemaster Superlock keep installed in gate.

The throw is especially relevant with wooden gates as they swell and shrink with the weather. So, you need a throw that is adjustable or long enough to account for varying tolerances throughout the year.

Question 7: What handing do I need?

With some lock variations, you might be met with the question: “Which handing do you need?” and if this question is new to you, don’t worry. The position of the gate hinges determine both handing of your gate and the handing of your gate lock. Although it sounds complex, there is a simple way for you to find the correct handing:

When looking at your gate from the outside, which side are your hinges on?

If the hinges are on the right side, your gate is right-handed, and you need a right-handed lock. Your gate is left-handed if the hinges are on the left side, and you need a left-handed lock. If you need help to visualise it or want to double-check the handing, this article describes the process a bit more in depth.

Some locks will state that they are left- and right-hand adjustable, meaning the gate lock can be adjusted for both. You therefore won’t need to worry when ordering the lock (just make sure it’s adjusted correctly when installed).


Still unsure of which gate lock is the right one for your gate?

Give us a call to discuss your needs now on +44 (0) 1243 552 066

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *