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In order to choose the best gate latch, you need to determine how you want it to open and close and what material it should be made of. Some materials look nicer and are sturdier than others, while others are more resistant to weather. There are a few different mechanisms that gate latches use to open and close, and this will be a factor when deciding what you want your accessibility to the gate to be. Once you know the material and latch mechanism you want, choosing one will be relatively easy.
There are three basic styles that determine how a gate locks and opens. Gravity latches close when the gate closes, and the arm of the latch falls into the catch by the force of gravity. These types of latches can be either one-sided or two-sided, meaning they can be opened from only one side of the gate or from both. Bolt latches use a bolt to slide an arm into a catch. These require that someone closes and opens the gate manually and are only on one side of the gate.
The most expensive and complex of the gate latches is the spring-loaded latch. It operates very similarly to a gravity latch, but uses a spring to help the arm fall into the catch to lock the gate. They close more reliably than the gravity gate latch, but typically cost more.
In addition to choosing how you want your gate latches to open and close, choosing the right material for your needs is important. Most gate latches are made of iron, aluminum, bronze, brass, or stainless steel. Each type has its own advantages in terms of appearance and durability.
Bronze and brass are higher-end materials, and brass is not as common. The advantage is they look nice and are durable. Brass will tarnish over time, and while bronze does not tarnish, it is usually the most expensive option. Both of them are used in colonial-style latches and offer an elegant look.
Iron is the most common material for gate latches, and it is very heavy and durable. It will rust, however, and usually has to be painted black to protect it, which limits your color choices. Iron is not the best choice if you are exposed to elements that will cause it to rust quickly, such as sea air.
Aluminum is the least expensive material, and it will not rust. It may chip, however, and it is somewhat weak. It often requires reinforcement to avoid the arm of the latch from bending. Stainless steel is a durable choice and is used in more modern designs. Despite the fact that it’s metallic, it won’t usually rust.