Just as fences provide a protective barrier around the yard, gates are also available for an added level of security to the driveway entrance. As with fences, they can be as decorative or utilitarian as the homeowner wants them to be. Also, like fences, they come in several forms with their own advantages and drawbacks. Here’s a quick look at the most common residential varieties. Keep in mind that any of these gates can be operated either manually or automatically.
These gates are basically giant doors. They rely on hinges attached to pillars or the terminal ends of a fence of privacy wall bordering the sides of the driveway. With this simple design, they’re less costly than sliding gates. They’re also at a great advantage where the winter snow tends to be pretty heavy. It’s possible to have only one gate if the driveway is narrow enough. For wider entrances, double gates are the norm. The downside to swinging gates is that they need room on the side they swing into. This is particularly important if they must move outward toward the sidewalk and street. Of course, if the driveway is too steep, they’ll be very impractical to use.
V-TRACK SLIDING GATES
There are three basic versions of the sliding gate, and this is the most popular type. As the name implies, a V-track sliding gate uses a track running across the driveway with a V-shaped cross section. Grooved wheels along the bottom of the gate roll along this track in a straight path. Along with the cantilever sliding gate, this type can sit very close to the driveway surface to block pets from escaping. In winter, the track must be kept clear of snow and ice so the gate can move freely without becoming derailed. Also keep feet clear of the track while the gate is in motion.
ROLLER SLIDING GATES
Chain link fences usually employ this form of sliding gate. At the rear of a gate, a top and bottom wheel ride on horizontal tracks made of metal tubing. At the front of the gate, a large support wheel holds up the bottom corner of the gate as it rolls across the driveway. This configuration makes them the least expensive of all sliding gates. Like v-track gates, snow and ice can create problems. If the gate is heavy enough, it’s also possible for the support wheel to eventually wear a groove in the pavement.
CANTILEVER SLIDING GATES
If snow is a problem, there’s still a sliding gate that can handle it. This type of gate uses pairs of wheels mounted on posts that hold the gate in place while allowing it to slide in and out. The drawbacks to cantilevered gates are the cost and the extra room required for the gates to retract along the fence. The gates must be approximately 50% longer than the driveway space they cover so that part of the gate remains between the guiding wheels when closed.