Your Guide to Driveway Gates
Driveway gates are installed in homes and businesses for a variety of reasons. Whether your primary concern for installation has to do with architectural design, aesthetics, improved security, or privacy, you should still consider a variety of points when choosing a driveway gate installer.
Your preferences in design elements, driveway gate types, materials, operation, and even the accessories you want can all influence the final design. To help make your decision easier we have compiled an overview of options that we hope will make it easy to choose the right gate materials and setup for your home or business that’s effective, safe, and easy to maintain.
Types of Driveway Gates
Hillside installed single slide glass and steel driveway gate
Horizontally clad exotic wood sliding driveway gate
Wrought iron and sheet metal sliding driveway gate
One of the first decisions to consider with a new driveway gate is the type of gate you want. The material you use largely influences things like design, function, maintenance requirements and even the size of the gate you want to install.
Common materials used in stock and custom driveway gates include:
- Steel – Most driveway gates are made using powder-coated steel which is chosen for it’s ease of manufacture and customization. It’s also highly durable and sturdy making it a good choice for long-term use and improving home security.
- Iron – Like steel, iron driveway gates are highly durable and have a certain feel to them that some people prefer for their home exteriors. Like steel gates, iron requires some upkeep and maintenance.
- Aluminum –Aluminum is sometimes a preferred choice for driveway gates. Even though it isn’t as durable or sturdy as some other metals, aluminum is lightweight making it ideal for larger gates without as much worry over sagging or misalignment. Aluminum is also more affordable and is highly resistant to rust.
- Wood – This is a great material for driveway gates, especially if you want more options for customization and design. There’s a lot you can do with wood to change the design, right down to the type of wood you choose for color and texture variations. The major downsides to consider with wood is that it’s considerably heavier, can be more costly, and wood is prone to cracking and warping – that means more frequent maintenance.
- Glass – In the last few years we’ve started to see the introduction of glass on auto and pedestrian gates. Glass is an elegant material and can be very contemporary or provide a transitional look. We can sputter gold or silver onto glass material for a sophisticated finish or we can finish the back of glass pieces in almost any color to create a truly one of a kind look. Like most gates, we start with a steel frame and all glass gates are finished on the property.
Design Elements to Incorporate
Rust stained Moroccan inspired bifold gate
Horizontally clad exotic wood sliding driveway gate
Wrought iron and sheet metal sliding driveway gate
The design of your driveway gate is less about functionality and more about the aesthetics. While you may not initially be concerned with the look and curb-appeal of your gate design, there’s one thing to consider.
A well-designed driveway gate that fits the ambiance and architecture of your home, while tying in and complementing features of the property and landscaping, will increase the property value of your home.
Driveway gate design includes:
- Custom designs around themes – Often gates are designed to match a certain architectural style such as gothic, European/versaille, contemporary, and even traditional western designs. The design style is often cultural, or you can choose a completely custom gate design such as one that incorporates a family crest, logo, or other feature.
- Color – Options for color customization are fairly broad. For wooden driveway gates you’ll find color variations in the type of wood used, and of course wood can always be painted or stained. With metal driveway gates such as those made from steel it’s easy enough to get them powder coated in the color you like.
- Shape – Driveway gates can be customized to just about any shape or design. For most homeowners, residential gates are designed with vertical pickets within a frame. Outside of that you see some common themes in the shape such as the flat top (a simple rectangular gate), arch-top gates (with a gradual but smooth arch) and arch-top gates with finals (pickets that extend beyond the top like points)
Multi stained medallion gate toppers
Intricate hand forged wrought iron
Stainless Steel Gate Design
Hammered steel and gold tinted medallions
Custom steel gate and inserts
Heavy duty automatic driveway gate operators
How Secure are Driveway Gates?
The security of your driveway gate has everything to do with the type of gate you install, along with the materials and accessories.
For example, a short and simple manually operated metal driveway gate offers only the most basic security when it’s closed and locked.
If you were interested in maximizing security along with safe operations and easy entrance and exit you may want to consider an automatic metal driveway gate that uses accessories such as coded entry, magnetic locks, sensors for vehicles, and cameras and intercoms to effectively control inbound and outbound traffic.
Common Accessories for Driveway Gates
Security gate entry via keypad
Holovision network controller for secured gate entry
Visually stunning driveway gates go a long way to compliment your home or business, but you’re not limited to that. You customize a lot more than just the design. Driveway gate accessories can be purchased to add more functionality, safety, security, and ease of access to your property.
Some of the most common accessories include:
- Wireless intercoms – An intercom system on your driveway gate allows you talk to visitors without leaving your home, and because it’s wireless there’s minimal installation requirements.
- Card readers – Proxy card readers let you grant access to anyone holding the card. These can be ideal for quick entrance access, especially where you can also program proxy card readers for the doors of your home and business to make keyless entry a breeze. You can even track who is coming and going.
- Pin pads – Basic security on a numerical pad and mounted box that requires a passcode to be entered in order to open the gate.
- Sensors – Various sensors can be installed with different functionality including motion detection (for light and video activation), Photo beams (for safety and to eliminate entrapment), vehicle sensors (for entrance and exit without exiting the vehicle).
- Programmable timers – Timers can be added to automatically shut down and lock the gate, or open it, during specific windows of time.
- Maglocks – Magnetic locks or solenoid locks can hold a tremendous amount of force, upwards of 1200 lbs, when electronically engaged. They’re far more secure than generic locking mechanisms.
- Remote entry – Set your driveway gate up with remote access so it can be opened or closed/locked via your phone.
- Solar panels – Install a driveway gate that runs on clean energy to power your accessories
What to Consider When Choosing and Designing a Driveway Gate
Having a professional install a driveway gate can be as simple as selecting a stock gate and having it installed, but in most cases there are plenty of things to consider as part of the installation process. You’re not on your own though. When you choose a professional installer they’ll walk you through the information to help you choose the best gate to meet your needs.
Things to consider when planning your driveway gate purchase and installation include:
- Materials – Think about how you want your gate to look, the amount of maintenance you can handle, the size and weight of the gate, color, and if you want custom designs. Remember, wood is heavier so it’s not ideal for larger gates. Steel is more durable but costs more than aluminum. A professional security gate installation company will help you make the right choice of materials that fit the style and topography of your property.
- Functionality – Are you installing a gate purely for security purposes, is it to enhance the curb appeal of your home? Maybe you just want to maximize your privacy. Answering those questions can help you determine if you want a swinging gate, a sliding gate, one that’s see through, or one that completely blocks the view of your property.
Black wrought iron pedestrian gate to the left and matching automatic driveway gate on the right
- Accessibility – This is a big one to think about. You need to decide if you want your gate to be a manual or automatic electronic driveway gate. Will you need more than one gate for a wraparound driveway, or perhaps a pedestrian gate for walk-through access or a door built within the gate itself. Do you need hands-free access to open and close/lock the gate?
- Additional contract work – Depending on the gate you may have the need for additional contractors such as landscaping, electrical, masonry, etc. A good professional installer will be able to provide the necessary contacts with contractors they know and trust.
- Safety – With any gate you want to ensure safe operation, and this is especially true of electric gates that open and close automatically. Consider pets and children in and around your property and what kind of safety features you’ll need, at a minimum, to ensure everyone’s safety.The Consumer Product Safety Commission has minimum requirements for safe operations. If you’re not installing a driveway gate with quick access for emergency personnel, know ahead of time how they’ll be able to get access in an emergency. Your installer should be able to help guide you to code requirements in your community, many of which require emergency access boxes.
Working with Professionals for Installation
Installing a driveway gate shouldn’t be treated as a DIY expansion to your home. It’s best left to an experienced contractor who can manage the full spectrum of skills needed to complete a gate install including security hardware and software, electrical, landscaping, metal fabrication, footing, and masonry work. This greatly reduces the chance of hardware failure or an improper installation, which can lead to abnormal wear and costly driveway gate repairs.
Your driveway gate installation professional will take you through critical steps to ensure that nothing is missed, allowing them to plot the course of the work and provide an accurate estimate for getting you the driveway gate that best fits your needs. Here’s what you can expect when working with a professional:
- Step 1 – Meet with your contractor for a design consultation to review needs and answer questions
- Step 2 – Review design ideas along with material recommendations and accessories
- Step 3 – Review estimate for installation which will include managing any necessary contracted specialists
- Step 4 – Sign agreement to authorize the agreed upon work to begin
- Step 5 – Property preparation, setup, and fabrication which could include grading and ground levels, holes, wiring, and any custom gate designs
- Step 6 – Installation and testing of all functions including safety elements, locks, and other accessories. This also includes alignment and leveling for proper operation.
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