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Driveway Gate Design Guide

white wood driveway gate scalloped with metal decor

So, you want to install a new driveway gate – great choice! A driveway gate can boost your home’s curb appeal and provides an added layer of privacy and security.

However, it doesn’t take long to realize that designing a driveway gate is more involved than heading to the big-box hardware store. You have to consider different gate materials, a plethora of design options, paint and stain, gate lighting, and height and width variations, just to name a few.

Read on for some driveway gate design basics to get you on your way to creating your own custom entrance gate.

Common Types of Driveway Gate Materials

The three main materials for driveway gates are woodmetal (which includes wrought iron, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel, chain link, and others), and composite. Wood and composite gates are preferred for privacy, while metals are generally for aesthetics or safety such as high-security sites. Can’t decide? You can combine iron pickets or custom iron flourishes with a wooden frame.

composite driveway gate with scalloped top

Example of a composite driveway gate

Arches and Scallops

An arch is a curve upward along the top of the gate; a scallop is a downward (u-shaped) curve. If you have a basic design idea in mind but don’t want to look like every other house in the neighborhood, try changing the degree of curve on an arch or scallop to dramatically alter the entire look.

Scalloped wood picket driveway gate

Wood driveway gate with a scalloped top

Custom Pillars and Statues

All driveway gates require posts, which can simply be painted to the homeowner’s liking. However, wrapping a post in custom stonework, masonry, wood, or concrete adds a beautiful custom touch that elevates the appeal of even the simplest gate. Statues or decorative planters will also upgrade the look.

Wrought iron driveway gate with lion statues

Custom lion statues on top of stone pillars

Paint and Stain

Wooden driveway gates can be painted with almost any outdoor paint; however, most customers opt for a tinted wood stain to allow the natural beauty of the grain to show through. For a weathered look, you can leave the wood untreated for a month before applying a clear stain. Wrought iron and metal entrance gates get a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint in the color of your choice. (Some gate companies will use powder coating; we don’t recommend this approach because it cannot be fixed on-site.) Composite gates need to be painted and your color options are endless.

Cedar wooden gate with rich stain

Lighting Options

Almost all of our customers install lighting at their driveway entrance; it’s strongly recommended for safety purposes as well as aesthetics. Lights can be installed on top of the post, on the front, or on the ground (up-lighting). We recommend that the size of the light fixture balance well with pillar size and gate width. If a fixture is too small, it can get lost in the rest of the design and may not provide enough light.

Wooden driveway gate with lighting on posts

Finials, Collars, and Other Decorative Elements

Your gate can have additional decorative elements such as finials, which are small protrusions that extend past the top of the gate; collars, which are added “knob” elements on the pickets themselves; and other custom details such as spirals, squares, and circles. Your imagination is the limit and these additions can dress up an otherwise basic gate design.

Wrought iron driveway gate decorate finials and collars

Gate Inlays and Cut-outs

Inlaying a design element or adding a custom cut-out element is a great way for all types of properties to make a driveway gate truly unique. Tri State Gate can create almost anything you can think of – the sky is the limit!

Custom horse and rider metal cutouts for a driveway gate

Gate Width and Height

The width of your gate is ultimately dictated by the width of your driveway and surrounding terrain. This is why it can be difficult to install a DIY driveway gate kit. We have encountered many DIY jobs gone wrong, which ends up adding to the overall installation cost. Tri State Gate custom measures each gate to fit your property, which includes any slopes, existing landscaping, gravel or concrete driveways, and so forth.

Varying the height of a gate is a quick way to dramatically alter the look of your driveway. We’ve installed extra-high gates on narrow driveways and low, slatted gates on wide driveways. Discuss options with your designer to come up with the right look for your home.

Tall gate on a narrow driveway

Swing vs. Slide Entry Gates

As their names imply, swing driveway gates swing outward/inward to open, whereas sliding gates slide to one side to allow the vehicle to pass through. Sliding gates are great where space is limited and/or there’s a steep slope that prevents the effective use of a swing gate. However, most residential driveways use a double swing gate, which consists of two separate gates mounted to posts on both sides of the driveway. High-security locations and gated communities can combine a barrier arm with a swing gate for maximum protection.

Mahogany double-swing automatic driveway gate

If you still have questions and would like to consult with an expert, contact us today! We’re happy to help you design the perfect gate for your property.