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Gate Terminology

Here is a 2 minute video to illustrate this:

The Classic Wrought Iron Gate

Probably the most “classic” looking gate is the wrought iron gate.  Go back a few hundred years and there were just a few types of gates, crude things that the villagers and farmers used, and the wrought iron gate of the wealthy and royalty.  The wrought iron gate was the gate you had if you had power or influence; if you just wanted to keep your sheep from straying, you hammered together a wood gate.

Now, a few hundred years have gone by since that time and there’s all sorts of gates now to give the wrought iron gate some competition for class and elegance, and these are made from all sorts of materials; aside from wood gates, there are also stainless steel gates and even glass gates!

Gates Los Angeles (a division of Mulholland Security Centers, Inc.) has installed hundreds of wrought iron gates throughout Southern California.

Wrought iron gates are the most popular residential gate. They are forged from a form of iron that is almost entirely free of carbon. (The alloying of carbon to iron is what creates steel. Most wrought iron today is technically not iron, but a low grade, very malleable steel.)

Wrought iron gates typically have a decorative structure, which is readily forged and welded. This is the classic look that you see, typically black with flowing lines and various decorative elements.


The vertical pieces of iron that run perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other (and are to a gate as posts are to a fence) are called “spires” or “vertical members”. There is no “law” about this, but typically spires are spaced 6 inches apart.

The pieces of iron work that run parallel to the ground are called “horizontal members”. These generally appear at the top of a wrought-iron fence or gate, but also can be found towards the bottom on some designs.

Many wrought-iron gates have at the top of the spire an ornament often resembling a spear tip. This is called a “finial”; they are not always shaped like a spearhead though; sometimes they can have leaf like shapes or other shapes.

The decorative additions to fence designs that are placed between the spires are called “scrolls” or “scrollwork”. These decorations often resemble a letter C with ends that curl inward in a loop or spiral design.

Types of Wrought Iron Gates


The Essex wrought iron fence or gate is the most fancy of the wrought iron designs. These first protected and added beauty to the mansions and palaces of the very wealthy in Europe. Nowadays they are very popular throughout America as well. They are still typical to estates and very elegant homes, but can also add class and distinction to much more modest homes. If you create a design that is not too frilly or ornate, your home won’t appear ostentatious.

The Essex design is characterized by the repetition of scrolls placed back to back along the top portion of the fence with spires running between them. The finials of an Essex fence ordinarily have a rounded, spear shape.


The Concord is simpler in design than the stylized patterns of the Essex. It has rounded finials similar to those of the Essex, but does not have scroll patterns. Instead, a series of circle-shaped rings separate each spire.

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