One of the most important considerations when building a driveway gate is the size of the gate. This doesn’t just include the width, but also the height of the gate and clearance from the ground.
Many factors determine the size of a gate including the width of your driveway, the level of security you want, and your city’s bylaws.
Below, we discuss driveway gate sizing and how to choose the best size depending on your particular situation and needs.
What You'll Learn Today
How Wide Should A Driveway Gate Be?
The first thing to determine when designing or choosing a driveway gate is the ideal width. Ideally, you want the gate to be slightly wider than your driveway.
Typical residential driveways are between 9 and 24 feet wide. So the smallest driveway gate will be about 10 feet wide.
Measure the width of your driveway at the point where you’ll install the gate and round it off to the next largest whole number to get the ideal width of the gate.
If your driveway is 9.5 feet wide, build a 10 feet wide driveway gate. If your driveway is 14’5” wide, a 15ft or 16ft gate is ideal.
If you already have pillars or posts in place on each side of the driveway, then the width of the gate will be determined by the distance between the two posts.
Measure the distance between the top of the posts, the middle and the bottom (see the video below).
Take the shortest measurement and further reduce it 1.5” or 40mm to leave adequate clearance for the hinges. That will be the width of the gate.
Other Factors Affecting The Width of A Driveway Gate
- If the driveway approaches the gate at a curve, you’ll need to widen the gate a bit more to ensure vehicles can pass through comfortably. This is also necessary if vehicles have to turn when exiting or entering the gate (e.g. if the road is right outside the gate).
- The kind of vehicles passing through the gate determines how wide the gate should be. Cars, SUVs and trucks can fit through a 10ft wide gate, trucks, RVs, trailers and farm machinery need a 12-16 ft wide gate, a two-car driveway needs a 20-24 ft wide gate.
Only make the gate as wide as it needs to be. Adding a foot or two of unnecessary width to the gate can greatly increase costs. It can also make the gate a lot heavier and harder to handle.
If your reason for installing an extra-wide gate is that you have large machinery or vehicles passing through the gate once a month or a few times a year, there’s a cheaper alternative.
Instead of a wide and pricey gate, install removable fence sections or panels. You can remove these to allow a large vehicle through and put them back afterwards.
Should I Build A Single or Double Driveway Gate?
You can certainly build a super wide single gate. But that means you need a stronger pillar to support it and it can be quite heavy to handle.
Also, if you want to automate the gate, an opener that can handle an extra-wide and heavy gate will be pricey.
The ideal max width for a single gate is 16 feet. If your driveway gate is wider than that, it’s better to build a double gate.
A double swing gate has several advantages:
- You can use thinner pillars or posts since each half of the gate is lighter.
- The gate is easier to open and close manually.
- You can install cheaper automatic gate openers.
- You don’t need as much clearance behind the gate. An 18’ wide double gate only needs 9’ of clearance.
If you don’t want a double swing gate, consider installing a sliding gate instead.
How Tall Can I Build My Driveway Gate?
After width, the next important size to consider is the height of the gate.
Check your local bylaws to see if there’s a maximum height for the gate. Many cities have regulations regarding how tall residential fences and gates can be.
Your homeowner association, if you belong to one, may also have its own rules about gate and fence height.
Generally, most places require that driveway gates be no more than 6-8 feet tall.
The other thing to consider is security. If you live in an area with serious security issues, a taller gate will be more effective at keeping burglars out. It’s harder to climb over the gate.
But if you are installing the gate mostly for aesthetic reasons, you can make it as short as 3 feet. A short gate looks great on a narrow driveway.
If you are installing a gate to keep your pet from going outside your home, the height of the gate (and fence) will depend on how agile your dog is.
Usually, a minimum 6 foot high gate and fence is needed to keep dogs from jumping over.
How High Should A Driveway Gate Be From The Ground?
We are done with the top of the gate and how high it should be. Now let’s look at the bottom.
Most driveway gates have a clearance of 3 to 6 inches from the ground to the bottom of the gate.
You don’t want the gate to be too close to the ground to avoid scraping the driveway when opening or closing the gate. Too little clearance can also be an issue when it snows. Even a bit of snow makes it hard to operate the gate.
You also don’t want a gate that’s too high – more than 6 inches off the ground. For one, it’ll look weird; like it’s floating.
Second, it can compromise security. Some people or pets may be able to crawl under the gate.
Leaving the right amount of clearance between the bottom of the gate and the ground also ensures you don’t experience any scraping or a stuck gate if the ground is uneven.
It also protects the bottom of the gate from rain splash. In some cases, a gate that’s too low can actually cause water to back up in the driveway and your yard when it rains.
Tip: If the driveway gate is on a slope, you need to factor that in the gate design. You can angle the bottom of the gate to ensure it doesn’t scrape the ground. Another option is to install special hinges that allow the gate to pivot upwards as it swings. Alternatively, install a sliding gate instead especially if the grade is too steep.
How Big Should The Pillars or Posts on a Driveway Gate Be?
Don’t underestimate the importance of the support pillars in the functionality and longevity of the driveway gate.
Weak supports often lead to sagging and the gate might completely collapse over time.
The wider and heavier a driveway gate is, the thicker the support columns should be. For instance, a 12ft double wooden gate can be supported by 4” x 4” wooden posts on each side. That’s large enough to support each 6ft wide half of the gate.
For wider gates, use 6” x 6” or 8” x 8” wooden posts.
Tip: If you are attaching wooden posts to an existing brick/stone wall or pillars, you can get away with using thinner posts.
If you are attaching the gate to concrete columns, 12” x 12” reinforced pillars are recommended for smaller gates while 18″ × 18″ columns are ideal for heavy and wide gates.
If you are installing a metal gate attached to metal posts, the posts will be smaller compared to wood or concrete since steel is stronger than either material.
Metal post sizes start at 2” x 2” and can be as thick as 6” x 6”. Consult the gate fabricator or a pro for advice on what size metal posts to use depending on the width and weight of your metal gate.
That’s most of what you need to know about driveway gate sizes. Make it wide enough that cars can fit through, make it as tall as you need for security and privacy (check city/HOA laws for max height), and leave enough ground clearance to ensure the gate opens and closes easily.
2 thoughts on “What Size Driveway Gate Do I Need?”
If I don’t like any of the gates available to buy, can I just make my own?
Absolutely you can! As long as you have checked the local laws, and ensured that your planned gate does not contravene any of these, you can make your own gate to your exact specifications. Bonus points if you are a carpenter or a blacksmith!