Exclusive 2021 Driveway Gate Planning & Installation How-To:
Here Is JDR Metal Art’s Helpful Site Planning Considerations & Recommendations
Guide for Swinging Driveway Gates
A successful driveway gate installation requires advanced planning and thoughtful execution.
Our driveway gate installation tutorial will be helpful to all who are installing our swinging driveway gates.
Sliding driveway gates are beyond the scope of this article, due to the more advanced nature of installing them.
The planning considerations should be sufficient for most swing gate installation scenarios; however, there may be issues with your particular installation which are beyond the scope of this guide and should be addressed with us prior to ordering your gate.
Gate Installers: Always Leave Clearance for Gate Hinge Gap & An Opening Gap!
For OUR driveway gates, Add 4″ of extra space per gate panel to allow room for the hinges.
Also add approximately 1″ to allow for an opening gap between the gate and “latch” post (single swing) or between the gate panels (dual swing). The goal here is to leave enough room so the gates don’t rub together and hands won’t get smashed in the opening.
5″ total allowance between posts for single swing application, 9″ total allowance between posts for dual swing application. See below for examples.
Setting Single Swing Gates:
*The example shown above is for a 12′ single swing gate. Substitute your own exact single swing gate panel width measurements, the gaps should still be the same no matter the gate size.
Setting Dual Swing Gates:
*The example shown above is for a 16′ dual swing gate. Substitute your own exact (dual swing) gate panel width measurements, the gaps should still be the same no matter the gate size.
Before purchasing a driveway gate system:
Step 1: Evaluate the installation site.
This is the most important step of the entire project. A simple evaluation of where and how the gate(s) will be situated will avoid many potential issues and ensure the best end results.
Points of Consideration:
Which direction will the gate(s) Need To open?
Typical Driveway Gate Installation:
From the Liftmaster LA 500 manual:
PULL TO OPEN VS. PUSH TO OPEN
Driveway gates that are operated by hand are typically built to swing two ways; in towards the property (“pull to open”) and out towards the road (“push to open”).
When a driveway gate opener is added to the equation, this restricts the gate so it will only operate as a push to open or pull to open, but not both. This means that one direction is chosen for the gate to swing through it’s open and closed cycle (i.e. either towards the house or towards the road).
Gates not equipped with gate openers can be swung by hand towards both out towards the road and/or inward towards the property. Since there is nothing to secure the gate from swinging freely in the wind there is a need to add drop pins or a latching system to prevent damage to people or property.
- Gates with automatic gate motors are set to swing open and closed only one way or the other i.e. either the gate will always swing open towards the home (“pull to open“) or towards the road (“push to open“) but not both.
- A sloped driveway will potentially limit the direction of swing.
- Trees or other obstructions in the vicinity will potentially limit the direction of swing.
- Too much curve in the driveway could pose an issue for longer vehicles such as trucks with trailers passing through narrower gates.
- The distance of gate from road. Allow plenty of room for entering vehicles to pull safely off the road.
- A single swing gate will require a larger area of clearance to swing fully open compared to a dual swing gate of the same width.
How wide do MY gates need to be?
- Consider size of vehicles and/or machinery potentially coming through the gates.
- The area between the gate posts or columns should be around 6″ wider on each side of the driveway to allow room for hinge spacing and a couple of inches on each side of the driveway. A 15′ wide asphalt driveway would need 16′ or more between the posts or columns.
- A gate situated on a sharp curve will constrain longer vehicles so the gap between the posts should be made wider to accommodate entering and exiting farm equipment, trailers, etc.
- Some localities require a minimum of 14′ opening (168″) to allow emergency responders adequate clearance.
Will the gates be manually or automatically opened?
- If using electrically powered gate openers, whether running solar or running a power wire to the gate is the best option.
- Solar power requires at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- A manually opened gate will require a latch, drop pins or another method to secure the gate in the open or closed position and to keep them from swinging freely in the wind.
How far above the ground will the gates Hang?
- A gate on a sloped driveway may need the bottom to be higher off the ground to clear the ground when swinging into the open position
- At least 1″-2″ ground clearance should be maintained to allow for frost heave or other movement of the ground over time. Some areas are far more prone to ground movement than locations.
- Areas with high snow accumulation may want to place the gate 12″ or more above the ground.
- Areas prone to flooding should be avoided if at all possible.
Slope, Grade and Curves
The curve, slope & grade of the driveway will determine which direction the gates swing and how high off the ground the bottom of the gates will be in order to clear obstructions such as snow, flooding, grade, rocks, etc.
Slope of Driveway
The first consideration is the slope of the driveway at the installation site. This is important to make sure the gate(s) can swing a full 90 degrees or more into the open position without swinging into the ground.
Below is an example of a driveway which slopes steeply upwards towards the home. These gates are required to swing out toward the road (“push to open”) or else they would not be able to clear the slope without adding 18-24″ of ground clearance beneath the gate panels which would look very awkward and not be very secure.
Flat areas are not restrictive on the direction of swing of the driveway gates. They can be set up for either push or pull to open. Other considerations in flat areas are the curve of the driveway, distance from the road, depth of snow, areas prone to flooding, etc. In areas near a road, it is important to leave enough room for entering vehicles to safely wait off the road while the gate opens.
Moderate Slope Upwards To Home
If the driveway slopes moderately upwards towards the property the gate opener can be installed in the “pull to open” manner only if the bottom of the gates are set high enough to clear the ground where the gates reside when they are in the open position. Otherwise, plan for “push to open” installation.
Heavy Slope Upwards To Home
If the driveway slopes too heavily upward towards the home, the gate(s) will need to swing out towards the road (push to open) in order to clear the ground in the open position.
Heavy Slope Upwards To Road
If the driveway slopes heavily upwards towards the road, the gate opener should be installed in the “pull to open” fashion.
Curved areas should take into account RV’s, landscaping trailers and other long vehicles and machinery that may pass through and have a hard time making a sharp corner.
Dual Swing vs. Single Swing Considerations:
Planning for Automatic Gate Openers
Dual swing gates with electric gate openers will require a conduit to be run through a trench beneath the driveway to get power and accessory wires from the “master” operator to the “slave” operator. Some gate operators that communicate wirelessly can now be purchased, thus obviating the need for an operator power wire. This power wire is not necessary for a single swing operator unless the operator power supply is coming from the other side of the driveway.
Preparation & Installation
Once the direction of swing has been determined and all factors accounted for, the next task at hand is the site preparation and installation. There are several methods of installing the gates. For the purposes of these instructions, we are going to assume that the gates are being installed on metal posts. Customers who are installing the gates on columns should go here for further instructions.
Single swing gates are the easiest to install. Dual swing gates are more involved because they have to line up with each other to look good. These instructions will be written from the perspective of a dual swing gate. A single swing gate will only involve the first half of each step.
General Installation Considerations:
How deep and wide do I dig the holes?
Depending on the size of holes needed for your gate installation, it may make sense to hire a concrete truck.
36″ deep or more per hole is ideal, but it must at least be deeper than frost line. Rocky areas may not be able to go 36″ deep, in these cases just go as deep as possible and make a wider hole. In all cases the width of the hole will be determined by the size of the gate and how much concrete will be needed to fill the holes. A larger gate will require a wider and/or deeper hole. The holes are typically at least 18″ wide at the top and 24″ wide at the bottom. Narrower holes should go deeper.
In areas with softer soil, go wider at the bottom than the top so the hole has an overall “bell” shape. This gives the concrete a nice flat bottom to sit on to evenly distribute the weight and keep the post from tilting over time.
It is important that the post hole is several inches deeper than the bottom of the post in the hole. This is to allow concrete to seal off the bottom of the post to keep water out. Otherwise the post is likely to suck up and retain water and rust from the inside out over time.
How much concrete to use:
Concrete serves the critically important role of holding the post(s) in place and keeping them from moving over time.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that concrete is the cheapest material that goes into a well-designed gate project; all too often gates are installed to gate posts that are set in an inadequate amount of concrete. That will allow the downward force of gravity on the gate to leverage the post over as the years (in bad cases, months or weeks) go by.
As a general rule of thumb for steel gates, there should be 100-150 lbs of concrete per foot of length per gate panel. A 10′ long steel gate panel should have from 1000 lbs to 1500 lbs of concrete in the post hole. Areas with hard clay or rocky soils will get by with less concrete. Areas with deep, soft topsoil or sandy soils should use 25-50% more concrete.
Aluminum gates can use approximately half the amount of concrete as would a steel gate.