With some basic tools and beginner DIY skills, you can build a simple wooden driveway gate. Other types of gates such as a sliding gate or a metal gate may require the skills of a pro.
In this post, we discuss how to build different kinds of driveway gates. This is not a step by step guide, it’s more of an overview of what goes into designing and building wooden, metal, automatic and other types of gates.
What You'll Learn Today
Can I Put A Gate Across My Driveway?
Before you start your project, first check whether you are allowed to build a driveway gate. Check your city’s bylaws.
Most places don’t prohibit putting up a gate across your driveway as long as it’s on your own land (make sure it doesn’t touch a public road) and you adhere to height regulations.
Some HOAs (homeowners associations) also have rules regarding gated driveways. Your HOA may prohibit driveway gates or have specific requirements on design and height.
It’s also a good idea to check if you need any permits to build a driveway gate.
Types of Driveway Gates and How To Pick The Best One
The best type of gate for your driveway depends on why you want a gate.
If it’s for purely aesthetic reasons, then you don’t need to factor in security in the gate design. Something like a low wooden gate will do.
If you want to keep out trespassers or burglars, you’ll need a sturdier gate that offers better security. A metal gate would be more ideal.
In most cases, homeowners want a driveway gate that’s multifunctional. For instance, you can build a driveway gate that adds to your home’s curb appeal, provides some security, and keeps your dog from getting out of the yard.
You also need to consider the cost of the gate. If you are building the gate yourself, you can probably afford to use premium materials like thick pressure treated wood or wrought iron.
But if you are paying for materials as well as a contractor’s labor, you may want to save money by installing a less expensive gate.
Other factors to consider include:
- How wide your driveway is. A double gate or a sliding gate is a better choice for wide driveways.
- The amount of clearance around the gate. If you have trees or other structures near where the gate will be, a traditional swing driveway gate may not work.
- A swing gate may also not be suitable if you are installing it at the home end of the driveway or if you have a very short driveway. You may not have enough space between the gate and the house for a swing gate. In that case, a sliding or folding gate is more ideal.
- If the approach to the gate slopes sharply, a swing gate cannot open fully. A sliding gate is more ideal for such a situation.
- If you dread the thought of getting out of the car to manually open the gate especially when it’s raining or snowing, install an automatic driveway gate.
- Where you live. In places with widely fluctuating weather conditions, a metal gate will likely hold up better and last longer compared to a wooden gate.
- How much privacy you want. If you don’t want passersby peering into your yard, get a solid wooden or metal gate.
How To Build A Wooden Driveway Gate
Wooden driveway gates are popular because they look great, they can provide good security, and they are usually cheaper than metal gates.
If you are planning to build the gate yourself, a wooden gate is cheaper to construct compared to welding a metal gate.
There are numerous wooden gate designs to choose from. You can have a solid wooden gate, which is great for privacy. You can also build one with slats to create a more open feel.
You can also mix the two designs; solid at the bottom and open slats on the top half.
Other design ideas include an arched wooden gate, a wood and metal driveway gate, or a wooden gate with horizontal slats instead of the usual vertical ones.
Here are some tips when building a wooden driveway gate.
- A single swing gate is ideal for a narrow driveway. But if you have a wide driveway, it might sag or put too much strain on the support post or column. Build a double driveway gate instead.
- Pressure treated wood is excellent for building a wooden driveway gate and any exterior projects like fencing and decking. It resists rot and insect attacks. You still need to apply a sealer to protect it from moisture.
- If you cannot get pressure treated lumber, use wood that’s naturally resistant to rotting and damage such as cedar. Make sure you seal it for additional protection.
- To build a wooden gate that doesn’t sag, first make sure the supports posts or columns on both sides are sturdy. At least a third of the post height should be underground and reinforced with concrete. The gate itself should have a sturdy frame plus bracing.
- Wood at the top of the gate should have a bevel to ensure water doesn’t stay on the wood, which could lead to rotting.
- Leave a small space (a few mm) between pieces of wood. This allows individual pieces to expand and contract without warping or cracking.
For a step by step guide to building a wooden driveway gate, here’s a great video. This is just part one; here’s part two.
How To Build A Metal Gate
Working with metal is a whole lot different from working with wood. If you don’t have experience welding or fabricating metal, either get a pro or buy a prefabricated metal gate.
There are many types of metal gates. Probably the most expensive are wrought iron gates. They are elegant though, and many homeowners find them worth the price.
Steel is the most popular material for metal driveway gates. Steel is cheaper and it’s incredibly strong. If you are building a driveway gate for security reasons, a steel gate is the best choice.
If you are building a metal gate for aesthetics or to keep trespassers out, you can use aluminum. An aluminum gate is lighter (makes a large gate easier to open and close) and doesn’t rust.
You can add plenty of detail to a metal gate. Arches are common or you can go with a contemporary flat top design.
If you need an intricate design, a wrought iron gate is the best. Wrought iron is malleable and easy to mold into complex shapes.
Here are some tips when building a metal gate.
- A solid metal gate can be expensive because of all the material you need. A gate with mesh or metal slats can be cheaper while providing just as much security.
- If you are building the gate with steel or iron, make sure you apply a protective coating on top to prevent corrosion.
- When buying metal for the gate, select the right gauge to ensure the gate is sturdy. The frame may require thicker metal than the slats.
How to Automate A Driveway Gate?
You can make an automatic driveway gate simply by adding an automatic gate opener to a regular gate. The kind of gate opener you get depends on what type of gate you have.
There are single swing, double swing and slide gate openers. Most gate openers come with a remote control, so you can open the gate without leaving your car.
You can also get smart gate openers with WiFi. This allows you to incorporate the gate into your smart home. You can open it with voice commands or set it to open automatically at a certain time or when you approach.
One of the most important things to consider when automating a driveway gate is where you’ll get power.
Some automatic gate openers need to be connected to power, others are battery powered and others are designed to work with solar power.
Other Tips For Building A Driveway Gate
- Many people will use the right outdoor-rated materials to build a driveway gate, but then use the wrong hardware such as screws, bolts, hinges and locks. Make sure every bit of the gate is suitable for outdoor use.
- Remember to keep up with maintenance. A wooden gate may need a new sealer coat every year or two while a metal gate may need a fresh rust-protection coating.
- The posts or pillars on each side of the gate are just as important as the gate itself. Make sure you build them properly. They should be thick enough to hold the weight of the gate and set in concrete to ensure they are sturdy.
- For heavy gates, consider adding gate wheels or rollers at the bottom of the gate. These make it easier to open and close the gate. They also take some weight off the hinges and posts.
- A clearance of 3 to 6 inches is ideal from the ground to the bottom of the gate. This ensures people and pets don’t crawl under the gate and keeps rain water from splashing onto the gate (important for wooden gates).