Los Angeles Guide to Swing Driveway Gates
Single or Bi-Parting Swing Gates:
Swing gates come as single or double (bi-parting). A single swing gate is the most economical and easy to install of all gate systems. This also holds true for the automation on single swing gates. Single swing gates have a practical limited width of about 16'. Gates wider than 16' do exist and gate operators are available to handle 20' wide gates. Bi-parting swing gates are considered the most elegant entryways. Bi-parting gates can be much larger; up to 32'. Commonly most gates are between 12- 24; in width. For a clean, well-designed appearance do not allow for more than 1" space between leafs on bi-parting gates. Grade beams are recommended on bi-parting gates.
Wooden In-Fill or Solid Gates:
Wooden gates can be quite beautiful however there are special requirements to consider when building an "in-fill" gate. All gates with solid in-fill should have steel frames. This is critical for the longevity of the gate especially if you add automation. Be sure to leave expansion room in your frame if it is the surround type (as seen in this photo). The expansion space can be filled with black foam cushion tape for aesthetics. If it is just a backer frame with wood pickets screwed to the front, leave space between the pickets or boards. Use a minimum 3/16 inch for 6 inch wide boards. Solid gates are subject to wind loading. which means your gate becomes a sail in the wind. If you elect to install a solid gate be aware that it will need a heavier operator. Linear arm operators are not recommended. In addition, a Magnetic Lock (mag lock) is highly recommended as it will prevent the gate from blowing back & forth during high winds. Another consideration to keep in mind for wood in-fill gates is they will absorb moisture like a sponge. During rains the weight can possibly double. Be sure to use heavy hinges to handle the extra weight.
Swing Gate Direction:
Gates that swing into your property are preferred. Sometimes it is necessary, due to grades, to have the gate swing out. In this instance the best gate opener to use is a Linear Arm Operator. A linear arm opener can be installed inside of the gate, allowing for the gate to swing outward. The operator pushes the gate open, and pulls it closed and also works well in bi-parting installations. Swing Arm Operators are not recommended as they would need to be outside the gate. This would leave the operator vulnerable, and have an unsightly appearance. >
A clearance of 3” - 6” under a gate is acceptable however 4” - 5” is optimal for appearance. A gate that is too high off the ground will have a floating look to it. One that is too close to the ground will feel more like a fence than a gate.
Uphill Swing Gates:
Gates can swing into a grade under certain conditions. The grade elevation should be 1" or less per foot. An uphill hinge can be installed which allows the gate to rise as it opens. There are two caveats to this type of installation. The first being the bottom of the gate pushes out a few inches (depending on severity of grade) in the open position. The other is that the gate operator must be equipped with a ball joint arm. You can only use Swing Arm Operators for an uphill swing installation and many manufactures offer this type of arm as an option. In many situations, bi-parting gates are advised for an uphill installation because each leaf is shorter and therefore may not need to rise, or need less of a rise.
Adjustable Swing Gate Hinges:
These adjustable swing gate hinges are “Sealed Flange Bearing” style which can support 800 pounds. When the bracket has adjusting slots for the bolts, it can effectively adjust the gate to make it plumb. This is critical when installing bi-parting gates as it allows the gate sections to be plumb with an even space between the two leafs. They also serve to re-level the gate in the case of the post settling or being slightly off after installation. This type of hinge can be used on posts or columns. Gate Equipment company makes these adjustable hinge kits exclusively. They cannot be found elsewhere at this time.
Block Hinges are formed from solid steel and usually have a stainless steel pin on the top section. The pin goes into a cylindrical hole on the bottom section and there is a single steel ball that it rests on. There is a Zerk grease fitting at the bottom to add grease as needed.
Block hinges come in several sizes from 4” to 8” in overall height. If these type of hinges are not regularly lubricated, they can freeze up. On heavy gates, the pin hole on the bottom section has a tendency to get elongated after several years of usage if they are not lubricated regularly. The other limitation to this hinge is it is not adjustable after it has been installed. Block hinges are not recommended for bi-parting gates. These hinges work well for steel garden gate.
Positive Stops are used to stop the movement of the gate in the open or closed position. Most swing arm operators are very good at positioning a gate and do not required these stops. However, positive stops are required on almost all hydraulically operated gates and are recommended on linear operators, especially on bi-parting gates, as all mechanical linear arms have a little play in them.
On a single gate it is recommended that a small fixed stop plate be added to the post or column opposite the operator. When used on bi-parting gates it is recommended that adjustable end stops be used to assure a pleasing appearance where the gates meet in the center.
Swing Gate Posts:
Most gate posts are 5” or 6” square tubular metal. The post hole should be minimum 36” deep and 20” x 20” square. Do not use a round hole because the post will work its way loose. The bottom of the metal post should not touch the earth. Use a small paving block or equivalent to keep it from making contact with the earth. A post will bend slightly when the gate is hung due to the gate's weight. When installing the post use about ½ degree of deflection in the opposite direction of the gate hinge in the closed position. This interprets to about 3/16” off plumb for a 5' - 6’ high gate.
If your earth is unstable (sandy, loamy, or clay) use a grade beam on bi-parting gates, or outriggers on single gates. Leave a few inches all around the outriggers trench for concrete fill. Outriggers are 4’ - 5’ long and should be placed in the open and closed position of the post.
Grade beams are highly recommended and should be used on all bi-parting gates and gates with columns. The beam locks the post or columns together as one unit providing more surface area for the entire structure. This prevents any dramatic settling and the post or columns from tilting. It also keeps by-parting gate leafs in precise alignment.
Skeletons are required whenever a column is used. These are custom made to fit both the gate and column and are core to the installation. Skeletons can be quite elaborate with pre-installed underground operator units, niches for linear arm openers, lighting and brackets for flush mounting the control cabinet.
Skeletons support the column, gates, gate operators, equipment cabinets and lights. A great deal of time and on-site welding can be saved by having these pre-made to fit your installation. After the skeletons are set, the equipment is hung and the masonry is built around them. Gate Equipment company custom makes these skeletons which makes it possible for a do-it-yourself er to install these high-end gate systems.