Sick of your driveway gate? It happens all too often that homes are built with privacy fences but when it comes to the driveway, it’s like they forgot what to do. Instead of a gate, there is an empty opening in your fence. Or worse, you are stuck with an ugly wooden gate made from the same planks of wood used to build the fence.
Building a DIY driveway gate is a hands-on but relatively straightforward home project that you can knock out in a couple of weekends. Using the right materials and a good design, you can build a new gate to your own specifications. Make it simple or make it fancy but make it your own.
We will walk you through everything you need to know about building a driveway gate by hand, so stay with us and you’ll know exactly what to buy and what you need to do.
Where to Start with a Driveway Gate
Before you even get started building a new driveway gate, understand that this isn’t a beginner’s project. You should have some prior experience with woodworking or welding before starting on a major project like this.
If you feel comfortable and skilled enough to take on such a project, start by coming up with a good design. Your design should account for the following things:
- The terrain of your driveway – Is your driveway built on a hill or a slope? Are there any obstacles such as bushes that could get in the way of your gate? If so, you may have to do some landscaping to get the gate to fit just right.
- The width of your gate – How wide do you want to build the gate? Measure the preexisting width of your driveway and add to it to merge your gate into any existing fence.
- The materials you will use – What do you want to use to build your gate? Will it be wooden or will it be metal? Wood tends to be more expensive but is more aesthetically pleasing than metal.
Struggling to Come Up with a Design?
If you are still unsure what your gate should look like, don’t worry too much. Getting your design down can take time, especially when you want it to be perfect. To help you out, we have gathered a few common gate designs and shared what makes them so special.
Elaborate Wooden Gates
Just because you build a gate using wood doesn’t mean it has to be simple. The beauty of wood is that you can add extra details to it that you can’t add to standard metal gates. For example, you can add wrought iron detailing, carvings, or beautiful wood stains. Depending on your home’s design, you could even turn wood into a quaint country gate.
Be warned, though, going with wood does come with the added cost of buying wood and the required woodworking skills. Think through your design before committing, or you could end up paying for more wood than you need.
Sturdy Metal Gates
If you prefer a heavy-duty look, you will probably prefer a metal gate. Some of the benefits of metal gates are that they can be built with:
- Adjustable hinges
- In assertive colors like black, silver, and gold
Additionally, you can choose to use decorative wrought iron to give your home a stately old-world aesthetic or a simple sliding rail to create a modern effect.
Double Gates and Swinging Gates
Double gates (also known as swinging gates) can be more aesthetically pleasing than a single gate but be warned that they require more work to assemble. You are essentially building two smaller gates, then lining them up to meet in the middle. If your heart is set on a double swing gate, be sure to:
- Measure everything carefully so the gate lines up.
- Build durable gate posts that can support the weight of two smaller gates.
- Build the gates to fit your driveway.
If you mess up your measurements, your gate will not fit and you will have to start over again.
A Simple Sliding Gate
If you are worried about fitting a gate onto your driveway, a sliding gate could be right for you. The good thing about this design is that you can make it nearly as wide as you want. The gate will rest on wheels that run along a bottom rail, meaning that it can be as heavy as you want without reinforcing it with sturdy columns.
The only downside to a sliding gate is that you will need some experience cutting and welding metal. Expect to use a drop saw and an angle grinder to make the gate align with a bottom rail roughly 50 millimeters above the ground.
Picking Materials for a Wooden Gate
After designing your gate, you should then begin assembling materials. If you decide on a wooden gate, you will have to consider what type of wood you’ll use. Because your gate will be outdoors, the wood has to be strong enough to stand up to the environment, so pick wisely.
Some woods are better suited for the outdoors than others, such as:
- Red Cedar
Compared to hardwoods, such as maple and walnut, softwoods generally stand up to rain and sunshine better. For this reason, keep the fancy hardwoods stored safely inside.
After you have assembled enough wood to build a fence, you’ll then need to assemble a few other materials to put it all together. Be sure to have:
- Wood glue and screws
- Galvanized plates to strengthen your gate’s hinges
- A wood stain or paint of your choosing.
Building a Wooden Gate One Step at a Time
Once you have all your materials and you have stained your wood, it is time to begin building a gate. Most standard gates are built using four parts:
- A stile – An opening through which people can walk.
- Three rails – These include bottom, middle, and top rails that hold the structure in place.
Your journey to a DIY driveway gate starts here.
Begin by measuring your wood to match the exact width of your design. Then carefully cut the wood into a stile and the three rails. Before cutting, though, be sure to always double-check your measurements. As the timeworn adage goes, you can measure twice, but only cut once.
With all the parts cut into shape, begin assembling them using wood glue and wood screws. You now have a frame for your gate. Screw on the galvanized plates to create a strong joint between each rail and then insert the boards into the frame. If you are planning to use them, you can then add any metal finishing to provide extra support before installing the gate.
Building a Metal Gate One Step at a Time
Just as you would while building a metal gate, pay close attention to what you are doing while building a metal gate. If done correctly, you could be done within a day but if you mess up your measurements, your DIY gate project could quickly end up taking a few weekends to complete.
Whatever you do, don’t attempt building something if you do not have the skills required to do so. You can always purchase a pre-built metal gate and install it yourself rather than building a gate from the ground up. Regardless of how you approach construction, follow our guide for how to install a metal gate.
Our Quick Installation Method
Start by lining your gate up with the columns alongside your driveway. If you are installing a double gate, make sure they fit together cleanly. You can use a couple of wooden planks to hold the gates in place while you install them.
After your gate is in place, connect the hinges to their appropriate heights. When everything is in place, fasten your gate into the hinges and affix the entire assembly to the columns. Metal gates can be quite heavy, so be sure to ask a friend for help throughout the installation process.
After the gate is in place, it’s time to affix all of the additional hardware. This includes:
- Latches or locks to keep the gate shut.
- Latches to hold the gate open so you can safely drive through.
- Installing a drop bolt in the ground to keep the gate tightly in place.
Concluding Thoughts on Building a DIY Driveway Gate
Although a driveway gate might not be a suitable home project for a beginner handyman, if you have the right set of skills, it can be a productive and fulfilling way to spend your Saturday afternoon.
Be sure to plan carefully, pick quality materials that can survive the outdoors, and always measure twice before making a final cut. Most importantly, though, don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help or admit defeat if the project is beyond your scope of experience. You can always have a new gate installed for you.
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