Any property owner knows that a high quality fence and gate can change the look of the home.
It’s a shame to complete your fence design and then install gorgeous fence, which can cost a great deal of money, only to tarnish that look with the wrong gate.
Moreover, fence gates are an important functional aspect of the fence, offering entry and exit to space the fence surrounds.
The key is you want your fence gate to mimic the style of your fence. If you it’s a garden fence, you want a gate to offer a continued style so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Same thing whether a wood, vinyl, iron, chain link, lattice, picket or bamboo fence. Obvious the color should match as well unless you’re seeking to create an accent to your fence with a different colored gate.
At the end of the day, the type of gate is determined by material, number of panels and style. All of which we set out below.
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A. Gate Materials
Wood is one of the more traditional options for you to have for your property. Wood is designed to create a classic look. It offers a warm and welcoming feeling to any spot.
It can be prepared with one of many different types of stains. It can also be cut in an assortment of great styles as it can be made with some pillar styles among other points. You can even get the wood cut at the top to create some attractive looks.
- A great gate will add a sense of privacy to a spot. This comes as wood is typically a little thicker than most other materials.
- This can last for the entire life of your property provided that you maintain it well.
- In addition to being stained, you can always paint a gate.
- Most types of opening fixtures and knobs that you attach onto your gate will blend in perfectly with a wood body.
- The wood surface has to be sealed regularly so it will not wear out and develop rot.
- This can be rather heavy depending on how big your fence is.
Aluminum is a popular choice for how it offers a sturdy look. It has a nice shine and can be painted in one of many styles. It is also light in weight and can come from recycled materials.
- This is very easy to maintain as it will not take in water or rust.
- It can be thick or thin; you have the option to choose any kind of body here.
- Door knob and opening fixtures can be integrated into the aluminum body.
- This is not appropriate for use in spots where the weather might be intense. It could dent if there’s lots of rain or hail.
- Aluminum can scratch rather quickly.
PVC is traditionally used to create a wood-like body. The polyvinyl chloride body can come in either a solid form or in a series of sleeves that can be added over existing wood surfaces. It creates a solid nonporous design. Stakes can also be attached to a spot through an adhesive material.
- PVC is a popular choice for how it resists many weather conditions without experiencing any rust.
- You can order PVC in one of many different colors.
- The design can mix in well with any door opening features.
- PVC can scratch and dent quickly.
4. Wrought Iron
Wrought iron is known for being a little heavier and denser than most other metals. But it’s also a choice that adds a sense of elegance and refinement to any property you add it on to. Wrought iron features an intense black color in most cases although you could add paint to it if you want.
The most important part of wrought iron is that it is very sturdy. It will not wear out or bend easily.
- This can be accentuated with a variety of artistic designs. You can order wrought iron gates that have special patterns etched on top or you can order extra posts that go on top of the gate.
- It is difficult for anyone to try and cut through wrought iron. This comes from how thick it is.
- Although you can paint your wrought iron, the paint can chip off over time.
- You must sand your wrought iron every couple of years.
Vinyl has been used as a popular choice for how it replaces wood with a new compound that resists all sorts of issues. It will not collect lots of water nor will it scuff easily.
This is made with chlorine and ethylene mixed together. It can be prepared in a mold and used in any kind of shape you want it to be in.
- This can be prepared in any kind of shape with natural grooves added to create a good wood-like design.
- This will not weaken due to intense rainfall. Water will slide off of the vinyl.
- This could fade due to the sun’s rays. You should add a sealant over a vinyl fence gate to ensure it stays comfortable.
- Avoid keeping one of these fence gates near spots that kids or pets might regularly be found in. While the chemicals that are naturally emitted by a vinyl body will blow away quite well while outdoors, they can still be harmful if someone is too close to it for far too much time.
6. Chain Link
A chain link fence has a basic look to it. This is simply made with a strong metal like iron. The individual bars of metal are woven together to create a strong open pattern.
This is typically used in commercial properties although it can also be used in your home. You can get it in any kind of arrangement that you want it to be in.
- The strong body of the metal used on your chain link fence means that it will not wear out fast.
- This is a very powerful choice that exudes a sense of power.
- You can get all kinds of decorative features on the top of your fence gate. You can even have a few short points on the top to make it harder for people to try and get over the fence.
- Your chain link fence must be tall enough to where it would be difficult for anyone to try and safely climb over the fence.
- The fence must be coated and washed carefully if you want it to stay looking new.
Bamboo has become a beloved wood material for fence gates in recent years. This is thanks primarily to how bamboo is a fast-growing wood that is environmentally friendly. But what’s more is that bamboo has a dense body that won’t wear out quickly.
Bamboo is also made with a thick body that contains fewer pores. This means that it will not take in as much water as other typical wood surfaces might.
- Your gate can feature either solid bamboo wood planks or cylindrical bamboo panels just like what is found in the wild. Bamboo is very easy to shape in a number of forms.
- Bamboo offers a beautiful natural tone although you can also get a great stain added onto it if you prefer.
- This can be prepared with a darker base with lighter wood in the middle part.
- Although this is a thick and sturdy option, it can chip or dent if you are not careful.
- Scratches can quickly develop around the bamboo wood.
- You can always choose live bamboo but you would have to trim it regularly. Live bamboo can grow by about a foot in a typical year.
- This is not ideal for use in colder areas.
Have you ever noticed when you’re driving by a farm that there’s a nice fence design that uses a series of thick horizontal wood posts? You can get such a style ready for use in your fence gate.
A farm-style fence uses a series of wide wood materials. These are supported by tall beams of wood on the sites. It creates a country feeling on your property.
You could always use steel, vinyl or PVC materials too so long as they are organized with shapes similar to what a traditional wood farm-style fence uses. Check carefully on how well it might be designed.
- A farm-style arrangement offers a comfortable look all the way through.
- This can be stained in one of many colors. You can use a darker stain to create a more authentic farm look to your gate.
- You can use this for a double-door pattern although it can also be used with just one door too.
- This might work a little better if your fence gate is a little wider. The intensity and style of the gate won’t be the same if it is too narrow.
What’s great about composite is you can get it to mimic so many materials and the potential for colors, style, etc. is enormous.
Check out this composite gate that’s made to look like stone. Composite makes this possible because a real stone gate would weight a lot… requiring some serious posts and hinges.
Source: Home Depot
B. Number of Gate Panels
You should look at the pattern that you will have for your fence gate. This refers to how well the gate can be opened and closed. While you will have to get a quality series of fixtures to help you open and close the door, you must look at how the door will move in general.
There are two particular patterns that you can choose from in this case. While they are not too unique or elaborate, they can still be designed in a variety of ways.
A single-door gate pattern uses one simple door. It is designed like any other door in your home and can come with a few decorative accents on the top part of its body.
- The handle and lock feature should be very easy to handle on such a door. They will be placed on the same part of the door.
- This will open in the same way as any other door.
- You can use this for when you have a narrow spot to work with.
- The edges on the opposite part of the gate should be affixed properly so the door will not wear out.
- You must get the door lubricated regularly so it will not weaken.
A double-door gate works with a body where there are two separate doors instead of just one. They will move outward or inward in opposite directions.
These are typically secured together with a lock and handle system in the middle. A handle will be found on one door while the lock goes on the other. The lock should be accessed on just one side of the door setup.
- This works best for wider openings.
- This gate can come with some wood or metal reinforcements on each door. Such reinforcements would be placed on the middle part of a door.
- This works well for a wider fence gate.
- You have to watch for how the doors are positioned with each other so they will not be at risk of bumping into one another.
- Depending on how the locking mechanism is designed, there is a risk that the mechanism on one door could bump into the other door if it is not aligned right.
C. Gate Styles
Gate styles mimic the different styles of fences, which makes sense given the gate is really just another fence panel with hinges and a latch.
Here are the main styles (click images to enlarge):
Sources for above fence gates: Home Depot
D. The Gate Top Shapes
By shape, I mean whether the top is arched, flat or inverted arch (i.e. scallop). Check it out:
Sources for above fence gates: Home Depot
E. Gate Top Patterns
The final consideration is the pattern of your gate top. Again, the top should be similar or identical to your fence top pattern.
Common options include
Click images to enlarge:
Sources for above fence gates: Home Depot
F. Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common questions about fence gates.
How Wide are Fence Gates?
Fence gates are used for a wide variety of reasons, and the widths can vary greatly depending on what they are being used for and where they are installed.
Smaller gates like the ones that you would use for a fence around your yard could be as small as 3-feet wide, which is usually enough space to fit a walk-behind lawnmower. You’d want a larger gate, maybe four or five feet wide, for riding mowers and other larger lawn equipment.
Most driveways are about 10-feet wide, and you’d probably want a gate that’s a couple of feet wider to minimize the chance of any accidents. Driveway gates can either swing open or slide. Sliding gates are usually mechanically operated. But, you can also have remote-controlled, swinging driveway gates with wheels as well.
You can also have gates custom-sized if you are looking for larger openings for specific purposes. It’s important to keep in mind that smaller gates are more cost-effective and easier to maintain. So it’s not always in your best interests to have an over-sized fence gate if you don’t really need that much clearance.
What are the Standard Fence Gate Sizes/dimensions?
The small fence gates that you would use around your yard would come in standard sizes of three, four, five or six feet wide.
The most commonly found sliding or swinging driveway gates will be constructed in 10-foot or 12-foot sections, although you may see some as large as 14, 16, and 18-feet wide.
Do Fence Gates Count as Doors?
A simple definition of a door would be a structure that is able to open and close, providing either privacy or protection. And fence gates would qualify as doors.
Having a gate should give you the same peace of mind concerning safety and privacy that a door would give you. And if a gate is closed, a stranger should not be allowed to open it without your permission.
Do Fence Gates Open In or Out?
While most gates will open in, they can open either way or even both ways. It really just depends on the layout of your property and where it would be the most convenient to open.
Just look at the area where you are planning to put a fence gate and decide which option would be best suited for the space that you have. The last thing that you want to do is install a gate, only to find that it is in the way when it’s fully opened.
Can Fence Panels Be Used as Fence Gates?
They can be. But it’s really not a good idea. Fencing and gates can be a major investment and should last for many years, depending on the type of material that is used.
Fence gates are specially designed for their purpose and will last the longest, especially if they are professionally installed and maintained.
Why Do Fence Gates Sag?
They sag for two reasons. Either the materials that they are made of is beginning to decay or they weren’t installed correctly in the first place.
Fences gates can be constructed of wood, vinyl, aluminum, and a variety of other materials. And each will have its own lifespan as well as different ways to maintain them.
But the installation is really the key to keeping them from sagging. Special sleeves need to be cemented into the ground, both to connect to the gate and the surrounding fence for support. If the sleeves fail, the gate will sag.
Can Vinyl Fence Gates Be Painted?
While it’s not usually necessary to paint a vinyl fence gate, it is very possible. If you have a vinyl gate that has been neglected, or you just want to change the color, painting it is a fairly simple project.
Make sure it’s clean and dry, and apply a good primer. You might need a couple of coats of an epoxy-based paint for good coverage. Then, finish it off with a quality sealer for protection.
G. DIY Fence Gate
You can also design and build your own gate. Here’s a video:
H. Integrating the Gate
While typically it’s a good idea to get a fence that mimics your fence, sometimes it can be more aesthetically pleasing to do something different so the gate stands out.
Check out the following example where the fence is a flat lattice top but the gate is arched. However, also notice that the flat shape is in a way extended with the gate due to the overhead mini-pergola
I. Where can you buy fence gates?
You’ll probably buy your fence gate at the same time and place you buy your fence. Here are some decent options:
- Home Depot
- Amazon (yup, they sell fence gates too).
As you get a fence gate ready, you have to look at what you’re going to add. You must look carefully at the particular type of material you want to use so you will have a great body added to any spot.
Remember that your fence gate will look its best if you are cautious and careful when making it stand out. Check on the material you will use, as well as whether you want to stick with a single or double-door arrangement. The style that you will work with can really make a world of difference provided that you are careful and that you have a good option to work with.