Although it may seem like a small accessory to a gate, the latch can be a decorative focal point. There are many gate latch styles to choose from, ranging from simple to ornamental. Choose a gate latch that reflects the feel of your garden and home, whether it be romantic, rustic or modern.
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A thumb latch is a double-sided latch installed on in-swinging gates. It consists of a gripping handle with a thumb depressor and a latch arm that function in unison to unlock the gate. The plate with the thumb depressor is installed on one side of the gate, and the latch arm is installed on the other. When the thumb depressor is pushed down, the latch arm lifts and releases the lock, allowing the gate to open. This latch is operable only on the side with the thumb depressor.
A ring latch is a two-sided gate latch that is installed on in-swinging and out-swinging gates. One side consists of a backplate that has a round ring. The other side also has a backplate with a round ring, but the ring is also attached to a latch arm. To open the gate, the ring is turned; this lifts the arm and unlocks the gate. Unlike a thumb or bolt latch that is operable on one side of the gate, a ring latch allows the gate to be opened from either side.
A lever latch is similar to a ring latch. It is also operable from both sides of the fence and is installed on both in-swinging and out-swinging gates. Rather than rings to turn, the latch uses lever handles.
A bolt latch is installed on in-swinging or out-swinging gates and is operable on only one side. The latch consists of a slide that is pushed into a holding mechanism. The holding device is installed on the post beside the gate door, and the slide mechanism is installed on the gate door, level with the holding device.
Gate latches come in a variety of designs. A plain and simple latch may be used on a gate that is rarely seen, and a decorative latch is attractive on a garden gate that is frequently visited. Decide which type of latch you prefer and study the different styles to choose a gate latch you are happy with. All latches lock to prevent the gate from opening but not all lock a gate secure enough to prevent entry. If you need to lock your gate, make certain you use a latch that can also lock with the use of a key or electronic device.
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