Any timber gate treatment you plan on using will depend largely on whether your gate is hardwood or softwood.
Untreated softwood gates
It's important that untreated softwood gates are not left to weather naturally. Left exposed to the elements, the timber will warp and eventually rot. Treatment needs to be applied as soon as possible.
Pressure treated softwood gates
Pressure treated gates do not need additional treatment before painting. However, treating the timber once a year with wood preserve will enhance appearance and encourage a longer life.
Hardwood gates don’t need treatment and can be left to weather naturally. If you prefer a less weathered look, then oil treatments can help maintain their original apperance. They can still be painted, but many people prefer to show off the natural finish of the wood.
Wood preserve is an essential treatment for non pressure treated softwood gates (it can also be used on pressure treated gates). It has a number of great benefits:
- It has a more natural look than paint.
- It requires less maintenance. The best quality wood preserves penetrate the wood, rather than sitting on top of it like paint.
- It's available in a range of different coloured stains, so you can create your own unique look.
For hardwood and pressure treated softwood gates, oil is an excellent alternative to wood preserve. It’s easier to apply and helps reduce the amount of water that can penetrate the wood, preventing rot and improving longevity.
Once you've applied your timber gate treatment and the wood is preserved, whether you paint your gate or not is a matter of personal preference. Paint can certainly transform the appearance of the gate.
Unfortunately paint can flake and crack, letting moisture in and causing gates to rot. It may also need to be removed periodically and re-applied.
If paint sounds too high maintenance, staining can achieve a similar effect to paint without the risk of flaking and cracking.