Building a driveway gate is a project that takes many forms. For some, a driveway gate is a simple wood structure that opens manually, while for others, a driveway gate is an automated, wrought iron beauty that is as elegant as it is functional. No matter where in the spectrum you fall, all driveway gates have a few things in common that are essential parts of their operation.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Pre-made gate or gate materials (lumber, hardware)
- Basic tools
- Heavy duty hinges or track
- Specialty equipment (In some cases, post hole digger)
A simple do-it-yourself driveway gate doesn't need to be any more elaborate than a section of fence that is built to the measurements of the desired opening, and then reinforced with a cross bar. If you plan on constructing a gate from raw lumber, try using a pre-designed fence plan or gate plan, either of which can be found online. For most people, purchasing a ready-made gate or gate kit is the easiest plan of action.
How you install your driveway gate will depend a lot on what you already have working for you. If there is already a stable wall or fence in place, you can use this to mount your gate hardware. If not, you'll have to use a post hole digger to create a stable place to anchor your gate (most likely, these posts will have to be set in concrete to achieve proper stability). When attaching your gate to the wall, fence or post, don't forget to use a plumb line and level to make sure they are straight!
Building a swinging driveway gate merely requires attaching the hinges to one side of the gate and the corresponding post, and putting a latch on the other side of the gate and its post. In many kits, this requires little more than some wrench-work. Building a driveway gate that slides will generally require attaching rollers to the gate and a track to the ground and/or to the fence or wall that supports it. For some sliding gates, you'll need to do a bit of work to make the ground level enough for operation.
While automating a driveway gate isn't a necessity for many situations, moving a big, wrought iron gate around every time you enter or leave your property can be a huge headache. Once your gate is functioning smoothly manually, automating it is only a matter of finding the right power motor. Small wood gates, of course, will require a less sizeable motor to open than a heavy metal gate. Manufacturers of gate openers generally have a chart that will tell you which opener you should purchase depending on the weight of your gate and whether it slides or swings.
Tips and warnings
- Installing a driveway gate can be a difficult operation for a beginner. Make sure you calculate the amount you'll save by doing the job yourself and compare it to how much it would cost for a professional job before you dive in!
- For the environmentally conscious, some automatic gate openers run purely on solar power!
- When purchasing a gate directly from the manufacturer and installing it yourself, make sure to read the warranty carefully. In some cases, a warranty may be voided if the driveway gate is not installed by a certified professional.