Porch gates can be used to offer security, beauty and privacy. The gates are available in a wide array of materials and patterns, and can even be custom-made to suit a homeowner's preferences or decorating challenge. While some gates are designed to be a focal point or architectural feature on a home, others, such as accordion gates, can be slid out of view when not in use.
The benefit of retractable porch gates is that they can be used when they are needed — such as when small children or pets are present — and stashed away when they are not. Some retractable versions have a tube-like holder that attaches to one side of the porch. The gate is pulled from the holder, stretched across the opening and fastened on the other side of the porch opening. Other retractable porch gates are more of an accordion-style and are often made from crisscrossed wood components attached with jointed, metal hardware. The gates are able to retract flat, then be pulled into position and fastened across the porch opening.
In most areas, porch gates are available in a variety of materials, including wrought iron, vinyl and wood. The spacing of the gate material varies from very close together, which offers a closed-off feel and a sense of privacy, to ample spacing, which provides an open feeling and allows for easy air circulation. Some materials are better than others for specific functions, such as using a solid wood gate when seeking privacy or using a vinyl gate when easy maintenance is desired. When security is an issue, a porch gate made from wrought iron is often the preferred choice.
While some porch gates are installed primarily for decoration, others are subjected to an abundance of everyday use. Porch gates can open onto the porch or stairway in a variety of ways, commonly in a latch and handle combination. Some gates designed for frequent use, including letting pets in and out, have an easy-to-access knob at the top of the gate which releases the lock. Other gates are designed to slide sideways to open, or are hinged like a house door, and can be pushed or pulled open. Some gates are designed to swing in both directions.
Decorative porch gates can feature accents such as wood scroll work or hammered wrought iron designs. Custom porch gates are available in a variety of materials and designs. Porch gates are typically made to mount onto the side of a house and extend to the porch railing. Not all porch gates need to be permanently mounted to a house or building, but rather can be mounted to a porch railing and pressure latches can be used to keep the gate in the correct position.