Gate Materials:
Choosing the Best Material for Your Driveway Gate

If you’re looking to install a driveway gate, there are several materials to pick from.

This choice shouldn’t just be a consideration of what looks best, but should incorporate your security needs, budget, and even how frequently the gate will be used. We explore the most popular gate materials and the factors affecting this decision below.

Popular Gate Materials

The most popular gate materials include steel, aluminium, cast iron, wood and composite, with each having their own benefits and drawbacks.

Steel Gates

Steel is a versatile material to work with, with the ability to produce contemporary and traditional designs. Prior to installation, your steel gate should be galvanised to enhance its corrosion resistance - ensuring it has a long lifespan in the UK climate.

The benefits of working with steel include:

  • Strength. Security is enhanced through the high strength of the material.
  • Durability. The galvanisation process enhances durability of steel, which will rust if left untreated in moist and wet conditions.
  • Kerb appeal. Intricate and simple designs can be achieved with steel for a value-adding driveway addition.
  • Span large areas. The strength of steel makes it suitable for gates spanning wide spaces.

While steel has many benefits, some property owners may prefer a different aesthetic for their driveway, such as wood or composite, which can provide a more rustic look, especially under conservation area order.

Aluminium Gates

Aluminium gates are another popular choice. Compared to steel, aluminium is a more luxurious material for those prioritising the look of their gate, often lending itself to a modern appearance.

It offers many benefits, including:

  • Aesthetics. Aluminium gates offer a more premium and contemporary due to it being cleaner and more polished than steel.
  • Durability. Like steel, aluminium is durable in all weather conditions, especially when treated to prevent oxidation.
  • Flexible design. Similarly to steel, aluminium gates can take on all designs and sizes for a bespoke approach.

If you decide to go for an aluminium gate, however, you should be prepared to pay a higher price than other materials, such as steel.

Cast Iron Gates

Cast iron gates add a timeless touch of class to your driveway, and are suitable for properties achieving a specific traditional aesthetic. Our cast iron collection is manufactured from cast iron using traditional 19th century techniques to produce an intricate and detailed gate design.

The advantages of a cast iron gate include:

  • Elevated Designs. Cast iron gates are decorative and dramatic, providing a gothic feel.
  • Authenticity. The authenticity of the cast iron collection’s manufacturing process makes it perfect for restoration and regeneration projects, including Heritage buildings.
  • Performance. Cast iron gates offer high levels of strength and durability, not compromising on performance.

While there are many appeals to a cast iron period gate, the style may not be suitable for every property. The higher cost of this style and production should also be considered.

Wooden Gates

For a more natural or rural appearance, handcrafted wooden gates are available in both hardwood and softwood, suiting a range of budgets. Heartlands Metal Craft, for example, provides Iroko and Accoya wood.

There are many reasons to pick a wooden gate, including:

  • Traditional appearance. Wooden gates are often chosen to be in keeping with the surrounding environment.
  • Design flexibility. They can be left untreated for a rustic look, or coated and finished for a more majestic aesthetic.
  • Natural durability. The wood utilised by Heartlands Metal Craft possess a natural durability in outdoor environments, meaning they require little maintenance.

However, wooden gates can be limited if you’re looking for an intricate design, unlike metal options. Alongside this, if you decide to treat your wood with staining, oil or paint, you must be prepared to reapply these coatings every few years. For this reason, wooden gates are higher maintenance than metal gates.

Composite Gates

Composite gates are manufactured from a variety of materials, generally including laminated PVS or plastics. These can be moulded to create a variety of finishes, including a wooden effect.

  • Cost effective. Composite gates can be a cost-effective option compared to its wood counterpart, ensuring you can achieve the look of wood without the price.
  • Low maintenance. Due to the nature of the composite material, these gates are low maintenance and do not require any treatment.
  • Stylish and contemporary. Composite gates are available in a variety of designs and provide a modern and stylish aesthetic.

One of the drawbacks of composite gates, however, is the risk of them warping in high temperatures because of the plastic content. This is more likely to occur in cheaper composite gate products and in very hot climates.

Budget Considerations for Selecting the Right Gate Material

There are several ways to maintain and prolong the lifespan of your gate and this starts with caring for your material of choice.


If you choose a steel gate, the steel will be galvanised to protect it from rusting in outdoor spaces. Galvanisation is a process which involves cleaning the steel and coating it in molten zinc. Once cooled, the zinc will be metallurgically bonded to the steel for complete protection.

Coating and Finishing

Other coats and finishes are available for aluminium, cast iron, and wood to prolong the lifespan. For metals, powder coating is a popular choice that allows owners to personalise the look of their gates, adding colour and adding further protection from the elements. For wood, stains and sealants can be used to not only preserve the gate, but also enhance its appearance.

Regular Service and Maintenance

Automatic gates will require a regular service for safety and optimal performance, helping to prevent accidents or repairs later down the line.

Even manual gates will require ongoing maintenance to maximise their performance over time. Whether this is reapplying coating to keep your gate looking its best or cleaning and lubricating hinges to ensure a quiet and smooth gate operation.

Customisation Options

While your choice of gate material will determine the aesthetic of the gate, there are additional options you may choose to explore if you want to further customise the look of your gate.

Painting and Finishing Options

Customise the colour of your gate with paint and other finishes such as polyester powder coating (PPC). Matte and gloss options are also available.

Decorative Elements

Decorative elements can be incorporated into your design; this may include a property name or number onto the gate, as well as the infill design or topper, although this is typically more popular on metal gates than wooden.

Your gate material is the key to the durability and security of your gate. But it should also meet your budget and aesthetic vision. With a choice of materials, designs, and finishing options, you can be sure to find a gate that ticks all the boxes.

Contact us today to discuss your driveway gate ideas

For the design, manufacture and installation of all types of driveway gates, Heartlands Metal Craft offers a wide range of manual and electric gate styles and designs. Our complete project management approach ensures we can organise all elements of your driveway refurbishment or renovation should you need it.