ABOUT TIMBER MOVEMENT
We would all love timber to keep it’s look and shape over the years but the truth is, unless looked after, it won’t. Timber moves as the mositure content changes within. This causes timber to shrink or expand.
When the air is humid, moisture is released from the timber and can cause shrinkage. On the same hand, during wetter months, the timber can take more moisture in and cause the timber to expand. Hardwood timber (such as Iroko) is naturally denser than softwood, so is therefore much less likely to expand or shrink compared to pine.
For the majority of our customers, your gate (either in hardwood or softwood) will always remain looking the same. Although the timber could be moving, you will not notice any change to the look or performance of your gate. The reason being is how your gate is constructed. During the manufacturing process, the frame has rebates set within where the cladding sits. As the cladding boards are entered there is a gap (approx thickness of a penny) where each board has the ability to shrink or expand. The gap is within the “V” groove so you can’t see it. It is extremely rare for any of our gates to suffer damage caused by expansion (causing warped boards). It would be more likely to notice actual gaps between the cladding boards.
Looking after your gates is key to all of this. If you have received your gates from us with a stain/ paint already applied it would be wrong to think the gates are going to last with no annual maintenance. The best gates are restained or painted twice a year. We would recommend in Spring and Autumn. This will give the gates the protection it needs to prevent expansion/ contraction and keep the gate looking like new! During this, if the gate has any holes caused by knocks etc, simply use a wood filler and treat. This will prevent water getting in to damaged areas.
WHAT TO DO IF SHRINKING/ EXPANSION HAS HAPPENED:
It is not the end of the world! Your gate will be OK, you just need to give it some time. If the gate is showing visible gaps between the cladding (or shrinkage) you will need to wait for the boards to expand. If this is during summer, it may take till Autumn for the timber to take enough mositure. Once it has done, stain/ paint the gates (with suitable outdoor wood protection). Allow 24 hours to dry and apply a second coat (unless otherwise stated depending on brand you have chosen).
If the gate has warped then we need to reduce the moisture level in the timber. You can leave the gates to do this naturally or remove the gates and place in a dry, covered area. You may need to add additional screws/ glue to pull the boards back in but this must be when the gate is looking close to normal. Only then can you stain/ paint the gates with two coats.
The better you maintain the gates, the longer they will last. Hardwood is less likely to move over softwood so is easier to maintain. Look after them by treating them twice a year, you will not see any movement and have a great looking gate for many years!