A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph Goodman
A gate is a difficult thing to protect. How do you go about making something secure that almost anyone can climb over? What does a gate provide in terms of protection? If a gate is executed to the highest degree a gate can be, how safe is it going to make you? Many people take a look at a gate and wonder why it is even there. Some people take a look at a gate and call it a fence. Is there a difference? What exactly is a fence? In this article, we will delve deep into what you can do to what a gate is and how to give yours more security. We will give you the proper information to determine if a gate is the right choice for your security needs. What are the advantages and disadvantages for different types of gates? The types of things you should consider for your particular gate needs, and why those things matter. It’s going to be a blast!
A gate is different from a fence and a door. What makes a gate distinct is that it is an opening to a barrier, with only three sides to the frame. It lies somewhere between a fence and a door. A fence is a stationary barrier, without a roof, that prevents access. A door is a moving obstruction that can either be opened or closed to secure a structure with four walls. A gate is much like a the door of a fence. It is a gate, though because it does not seal against a roof. Gates can be made out of any material, but are often composed of wood, metal, or a mixture of the two. Gates can be secured many different ways depending on your security needs. Due to the difference in gates, there is no real standard pin tumbler lock. Gates can have bars that human arms fit through or be short enough for people to reach over. The type of gate you have will determine what type of lock you can use.
The answer is a resounding, yes. The amount that it offers is completely dependent on your installation, gate style, and maintenance. A gate is like a locked door: It is better than one that is wide open. A locked gate will always be more secure than an unlocked gate. Truthfully, the more slight the security is the fewer people it will deter. A short gate that can be stepped over will still stop someone from entering. As you increase the security of the gate, more people will be turned off from unauthorized entry. In terms of the best possible security, it is hard to pin down. A gate means that there is a fence or wall. Fences, walls, and gates can all be climbed. They do not need to be climbed at a specific point either. The gate is not necessarily where the intruder will enter.
Short Gate – If your gate is short, then you will need a particular type of lock. Keep in mind if your gate is so short that it can be stepped over, rather than climbed, having a lock may be irrelevant. The gate might also be so short that a person can look over it to see your levels of security. If a person can see over the gate, they may be able to reach handles and latches. The area behind the fence may also be in clear view.
Gate with Small Perforations – Small perforations in the gate are anything that is going to make it somewhat see through. If the gate is see through to any degree, it will be easier for a criminal to assess your security. Passers-by will be able to see what is on the other side of the gate, and more accurately use a variety of lock manipulation methods from the point of ingress.
Gate with Large Perforations – Large perforations on the gate are anything that will allow the operator to access the side of the gate they are not on. This will allow criminals to reach into and/or through the gate. It allows people on the outside of the perimeter to see what is behind the gate, manipulate the locking mechanism from the ingress, etc.
There are some straightforward and creative ways to beef up the security on your gate. Many people think that barbed wire around the fence and gate will solve the climbing problem. This precaution will surely keep a great deal of thieves away, but it can be incredibly appealing to the public. Instead, you could use the tricky Medieval security measure of growing roses along the walls. The rose bush covered wall looks very nice, and they have thorns that will give at least a few cuts to anyone climbing. Similarly, if a criminal is using a ladder, rose bushes lining the inside of the fence/wall will be another obstacle avoid. A well-protected wall can make the gate the most appealing point of entry.
Once the gate becomes the point that the criminal will want to enter, gate security comes into play. Don’t have the gate be made of anything that has foot or hand holds. A nice flat and tall gate will make climbing very difficult. Have the gate be sturdy so that it cannot be kicked in. And a lock that cannot be manipulated from the outside, or one that has very high burglary protection. Security cameras will also give you some information on the identity of the thief. Be careful in how you position this camera because the entry point may be different than you assume. Consider multiple cameras and obscuring their placement so the crook cannot detect them.
This type of gate has to open many times a day for guests, as well as employees. There will not necessarily be a guard at the gate, or people on the premises at all times.
This type of gate has to open a few times a day for guests, as well as employees. There will not necessarily be a guard at the gate, or people on the premises frequently.
This type of gate has to open many times a day for guests, as well as tenants. There will not necessarily be a guard at the gate, but people are almost always are on the premises.
This type of gate has to open a few times a day for tenants. There will never be a guard at the gate (few exceptions) and there will be long periods of time where no one will be on the premises.
Will giving out codes/keys harm the building’s security?
If you need to restrict access, sometimes the best thing to do is not give workers or residents the ability to enter freely. This can be solved with a guard at the main entrance point of the building and an ID system. ID’s will not grant access, but they will show the guard that the person who is entering is invited. If everyone does need to have identification checked by a guard this will slow the rate of ingress. You must weigh how important it is to keep out uninvited visitors, versus the restraints that it will cause for the building.
Does it make financial sense to have a guard to verify who is entering?
What is the rent or value of the building? If the contents of the building are of extreme value, it makes sense to not only have a guard but have several guards stationed around the clock. Depending on the rent and location of the building it may make sense to give people the added security of having a guard present to verify who is entering. If you wish to monitor who is entering and exiting the building, consider security cameras. It will not be able to prevent access, but it will keep a record of possible perimeter breaches.
Does the gate function correctly?
If a gate has constant usage, it will begin to function less accurately. Locks only have a finite number of times that they can be opened and closed before failing. Once the lock or gate begins to have problems in its functionality, it will need to be fixed. If the gate is not properly maintained, it may not open, or it may not shut. This provides security and emergency liability and defeats the purpose of having a gate.
Should you remove a nonfunctioning gate?
Always remove a nonfunctioning gate if you do not plan to fix it. Any entrance or exit point that is not working properly creates a safety risk. Removing a gate will result in you having to notify any tenants. This change is security should come with the offer to end the renting or leasing of the building, room, or space. There is not always a need to remove a nonfunctioning gate if you are going to fix it. Some gate problems can be addressed with standard maintenance or maintenance under the price of replacing the gate entirely.
What is the purpose of the gate?
Some gates might just be to break up a fence that is meant to keep animals on the property. There might be no desired security for your gate. In any case, your gate must be able to accomplish its task. A fence that restricts an animal must be appropriate to the ability of the animal, and the gate cannot vary in its protection. If the desire is to restrict access, then it may seem that a lot the responsibility falls on the lock. But the gate might undermine the protection of the lock.
If the locking mechanism can be manipulated easily, then the gate has failed to protect the lock and caused the security to fail. If keeping the parking at the correct capacity is the desire, makes sure that there is some way to account for residents that are tailgated (followed closely by another car so that they do not need to open the gate themselves) into the facility. Keep in mind that the gate should not be modified to close while cars are in its path. You may try and communicate this issue to the tenants. Recommend that they stop after their car is out of the path of the gate until the gate closes. This way no one will be able to follow close behind and circumvent the security.
How often will the gate open and close in a day, week, month, year?
How often a gate is used will create a need for more maintenance, and perhaps restrict what gates you should use. A sliding gate works best for high traffic automotive entry. It can be placed back on its track no matter which way it is struck. Swinging gates often bend if they are hit or abused in other ways. The type of lock might also have to change depending on the volume of exit and entry. A padlock will be slow to open and require many professionally made keys, and is often misused by the operators. A mortise lock will also need keys, but it will stand up to significantly more wear and tear. It is not just about how many people will need access, but how often they will be entering and exiting. For example, a delivery service might have fewer employees, but it may use the gate more often than a business office with a cafeteria (cafeteria will decrease the need for people to leave on their lunch break).
How large is the concern of unauthorized entry?
Depending on the area of your building or residence, the threat of unauthorized entry might not be as great. In some cases, the restricted nature of the site itself may easily identify intruders without the use of a gate. If guests are not expected and employees/residents are very few, then your security may be better focused on some other aspect of the property.
How many people need access?
The amount of people that need access to the gate is a large concern. If a tremendous number of people will need a key or a code, it may defeat the purpose of having these precautions, especially if there is a large turnover in residents/employees. A lot of people entering and exiting will also make it possible for pedestrians and automobiles to follow guests or residents inside the gate when it opens. For more industrial type gates, several padlocks on a chain may seem like the appropriate way to allow three different people entry to the site. This method makes it so if any one of the padlocks is removed, the gate will be unlocked. The largest problem with the multiple padlock chain is that the weakest padlock is the only one that needs to be overcome. Try to balance your gate security with practicality.
Will the presence of an unknown car or person be enough to warrant action?
In tight-knit buildings, sometimes the only thing necessary to find out if there is an intruder, is to see someone you do not recognize. Areas with very low foot/automotive traffic might not need a gate, especially if the building gives a panoramic view of the area. A gate will always deter some would-be thief, but you might find that it causes unnecessary hassles. A fence/wall without a gate on may provide the necessary precaution so that if someone does wish to enter the premises they will have one method of ingress. If there are simply too many people that must enter and leave the area, then a gate will be necessary. Anytime the people present will not be able to verify whether or not a person belongs on the site, it is best to have as many security precautions as possible.
Who are the residents?
Who your residents are, is going to mean a lot about what a gate can potentially do. If your tenants are mainly young people (around college age) a gate alone might not offer much protection. Younger people, as well as their friends, are more likely to undermine the gate. Commonly they will place things in the way of the locking mechanism, break the locking mechanism, or just jump the fence (avoiding the gate altogether). This is often the case because of parties, as well as other visits from large groups, where the host will not want to unlock the gate as people trickle in. If there is a criminal element to the residents, a gate will be ultimately meaningless. When the criminals have access to the gate, there is no reason for the gate. Older non-criminal residents are ideal for gate maintenance and security. They are often more aware of security breaches and active in reporting when repairs are needed.
What is the surrounding area?
The surrounding area plays a large role in gate security. It may determine which way your gate opens, where the gate is placed on the fence, how many gates you have, your necessary security, etc. If the site is in a bad part of town, the gate will most likely need to provide the appropriate level of security. This may mean that the gate has a 24-hour attendant, or that the gate is equipped with security cameras. Depending on the location, a swing gate may expose itself to traffic if it swings in or out. If the property is rather large and can be approached from different sides, there may need to be multiple entrances and exits.
With this information, you should now be able to assess your current security and determine for yourself what your gate needs, or if you need a gate at all. Get creative if you want. Go Medieval is you have to. Just because padlocks may (or may not) have been made especially for gates, does not mean that they need to be your only protection. Layer your security. Consider your particular situation. Not every method of protection can fit your needs. Trial and error can be an effective way of refining your security, but make sure that the risks you take do not compromise the safety of yourself or your tenants. All forms of security are, at their simplest level, barriers. They create a buffer between the things you wish to protect, and the chaos of the outside world. A gate is the portal between those opposing forces. It bridges the gap between control and disarray. The last vestige of order before the maelstrom of our hectic world. Or maybe it’s just a gate.