Do you need a driveway gate?
Driveway gates are not for everyone and the cost can seem quite superfluous if you do not have a demonstrated need for one. Most of the time, these gates are used more as part of a larger overall security protocol for at-risk properties or individuals.
You should always make a realistic assessment of your security needs before investing in something this expensive and work-intensive. No matter what you decide, you should not let a gate lull you into a feeling of complete security.
Gates can be a great deterrent to keep unauthorized people off of your property. However, you should always use them as a component of a more complete and intensive security scheme that involves cameras or strategic lighting.
Custom driveway gates like this one can be constructed to meet a homeowner's every need. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Joseph R.)
Gate types and features
Manual vs. automatic
If you’re considering installing a gate for your driveway, you first determination should be whether to install a manual gate, one operated by hand, or an automatic gate that uses a motor to open and close the gate. For most homeowners, this question can easily be answered by evaluating the project budget.
A new driveway gate and opener can easily start at $2,000 and more (not including installation), whereas a manual operated gate can easily cost much less.
Maintenance is a consideration, too. While all gate or fence structures require some level of regular maintenance such as washing off debris or lubricating and adjusting hinges, a mechanically operated gate needs more maintenance to ensure it operates properly.
These gates are comprised of one solid piece of fencing or metal work that retracts into a slot to create the space necessary to enter the driveway. Side-scrolling fences are generally more durable than bi-parting gates due to their more simple design. Automatic slide-scrolling gates typically use a single motor that moves the gate along a track to open or close it.
In some cases, side-scrolling gates can be reinforced to give an even greater level of durability. This is possible due to the strict two-dimensional movement of the gate along its track.
Side-scrolling driveway gates are also usually much less expensive than bi-parting gates and require less regular maintenance. A disadvantage to the side-scrolling design is the need for adequate space on one side of the gate opening for the gate to slide into when opened.
Bi-parting gates are the more theatrical and expensive of the driveway gates. They are a common choice for people looking to enhance the security profile of their property while not compromising esthetics.
Bi-parting gates come in a wide variety of designs to suit nearly any design scheme. Customers can choose between bi-parting gates that swing open or bi-parting “scroll” gates. Swing gates pivot inward to allow the ingress of vehicles and personnel while scroll gates move side-to-side in two dimensions.
Bi-parting swing gates are often more expensive than sliding gates and require more regular maintenance, since they typically require at least two motors to power the opening process.
A keypad is a very convenient and safe way to keep your gate secure. They are often seen as being very user-friendly and hassle-free. One of the major benefits of a keypad interface over a card-based interface is that there is no risk of your card being stolen and used by an unauthorized person.
The PIN number that you use to secure your gate will be entirely original and known only to you. In some cases, the pin may be available to maintenance personnel if you decide to hire a security company. This creates a very small window of opportunity for unauthorized people to access your driveway or home.
Keypad entry boxes are also known for being much easier to install and program than card-based entry boxes.
A card-based entry system will require you to have a card to operate your gate. This could be a card that you insert or a card with an RFID chip that is specifically programmed to work with your gate. Due to the unique nature of the card you are issued, a card-based entry system is very difficult to bypass.
Card-based entry systems are also much more difficult to bypass since their controls are not so expressive. The card-based entry system is also very popular with businesses that need to give cards out to a large number of employees.
If an employee quits, his or her card is simply disabled. This means that business owners don't have to dedicate time to creating and disseminating a new password every time an employee leaves. The card-based entry is considered to be the best option for a multiple-user system.
Even security gates can be customized to provide aesthetics in addition to added security to the property. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Darmae S.)
What does it cost?
The cost of your setup will depend entirely on the mixture of style and function you decide on. Manual gates can cost as little as $500, whereas automatic gates can easily cost more than $10,000, depending on the features. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind whenever you are looking at these gates if you want to get a good price.
First, do-it-yourself setups are almost always less expensive than gates requiring specialized installation by a professional. A manually operated gate is a project that could be accomplished in a weekend for someone with reasonable DIY skills.
However, setting up an automatic gate system yourself will require engineering and construction skills that are more likely to be found with a professional gate installer. In fact, a gate installation may be required to be completed by a professional due certifications required to do electrical work in most states.
Another factor to consider when pricing driveway gate options is the cost of ongoing maintenance. Almost all automatic gate opening devices will require some sort of regular maintenance and if the maintenance is performed by a company, that upkeep will cost money.
Who to hire
When selecting a professional to install a driveway gate, you’ll likely face several choices. For manually operated gates, a fencing contractor should have the experience and expertise to construct the gate.
If you’re integrating a powered driveway gate into a new fence installation, ask the fencing company if they perform automatic driveway gate installations themselves, if they use subcontractors or if they recommend particular companies for the work.
If you are an Angie's List member you can search the category of "driveway gates" to find installers near your home who have received positive reviews from past customers.
If possible, get estimates from at least three contractors before signing a contract. There may be a wide range of prices for your project. Once you’ve decided to hire a contractor, check their license, if needed, as well as their references and insurance. Make sure your contract spells out exactly what type of gate will be installed and when the project will be completed.