Sliding Gate or Swing Gate? Which is Right for Me?

Sliding Gate

“Should I get a swing gate or a slide gate for my driveway?” That might be one of the first decisions when selecting a gate for your home. 

Sometimes the physical requirements at your property won’t allow a choice.

My name is Yael Sirota, I have worked in the construction industry for nearly twenty years. Almost all of my projects over the years have included installing gates and fences. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot on the subject!

In this article, I am going to show you the most important considerations that go into deciding whether a sliding gate or a swing gate is right for your property.


Single Driveway Swing Gate

If you are on a tight budget, this is the least expensive option. 

It’s less expensive because single swing gates require almost half of the hardware (i.e. Hinges, bolts, hinge posts, receiving posts) that would be required in a double swing gate. 

Single Swing Gate Space Restrictions 

Gate Space Requirements
Space required for swinging driveway gate

With a single swing gate, it is important to consider “swing distance.” For example, a 12’ single swing gate requires twice the free space when compared to a double swing gate. With a double swing gate, your space requirements are halved as each gate panel will swing only 6′. 

The Importance of Dimensions

Single and double swing gates can open in either an inward direction or an outward direction. Inward is usually the best. With an inward direction, it is important to consider room for the gate to open as well extra room for objects like a car behind the gate.

The average car today is about 15′ long. If your driveway is 12′ wide, your single swing gate will occupy 12′ of space when it swings open. If your 15′ car is parked behind it, you’ll need 27′ of total driveway space behind your gate and that will be a very tight squeeze.

(Note that there are width limits to the leaves (panels) of swing gates from different manufacturers. Mulholland’s maximum single swing gate width is 9′.)

If you’re considering having your gate opening outward, most cities and towns have restrictions on this. It is important to ensure the gate does not obstruct any sidewalk crossing your property or open into the street. Even if your city or town does not have such restrictions, your neighbors might not be happy if you install your gate in this way.

Outwardly Opening Swing Gates Are Generally Not Safe

When you open a swing gate outward, there are potential problems. Imagine a visitor pulling up to a gate at the entrance of your property. This person has just pulled into the drive from a busy street. The gate begins to open towards your visitor’s car. Your visitor sees that there is not enough room for the gate to open. If they don’t move the car, it will be damaged. The driver panics, puts the car into reverse, backing the car into the busy street and causes an accident.

This also potentially hazardous to pedestrians, visitors, and even your own family.

Probably the only comparably safe place to make such an installation would be in a rural area with little or no traffic, and then with various safety features also put in place. Retractable bollards could be installed that would not allow an incoming car to approach the gate so closely that the gate could not open. Once the gate opened, the bollards would retract, allowing entry.

Single Swing Gate Installation Limitations

With these gates, a heavy duty post is required to hang the gate since all the weight is on one post. Heavy gates on single posts also need adjustments more frequently than a lighter gates. When the weight of the gate is split between two panels, this alleviates some stress from the posts making adjustments less frequent.

Remember that various gate materials have various weights. For example, an iron 12′ gate is going to weigh significantly more than a standard 12′ gate. Alternatively, a 12′ aluminum gate is going to weigh significantly less than a standard 12′ iron gate.


Double Swing Gate
A double swing gate

Double Swing Gate Budget

Since these types of gates require more hardware, they generally cost more than a single swing gate. You will need two gate openers and almost twice the amount hardware (i.e. Hinges, bolts, hinge posts, receiver posts). Double swing gates also require more engineering and installation time. 

Double Swing Gate Space Restrictions

Gate Space Requirements
Double Swing Gate Space Requirements

Double swing gates require less total swing distance than a single swing gate. A 12′ double gate would need only 6′ whereas a single gate would need all 12′. If you are low on space behind your driveway gate, this is the better option.

Installation Considerations

Double swing gates can accommodate wider driveway openings than a single swing gate. The full weight of the material required to span the width of the driveway is shared between two posts, rather than one. 


Double swing gates have the traditional (even iconic) look of what we admire in a gate all throughout the world. This is the gate opening from the center, giving the idea of welcoming or opportunity. The gradual revealing of a beautiful property from an opening, double swing gate makes for a dramatic introduction to a property. 

Windy Areas

Is your home in a windy area? In this case, it may be better for you to get a sliding gate, the reason for this is that the wind can treat your gate as a sail, particularly if the gate is a solid surface, rather than slatted.

Sliding Driveway Gate
A double sliding gate


Sliding gates are often used when swing gates aren’t workable. Typically speaking, sliding gates are the better choice for the following scenarios:

1. No room for traditional swing gates to open.

2. There is a steep upward slope from the entrance towards the back of the property. (In this case, there may be an opportunity for the gates to open outward, but it increases the risk for hazardous situations for vehicles and pedestrians).

So, whenever these circumstances exist, we take a step back and do some measurements to see if a sliding gate would better suit your property. 

The Cost of Sliding Gates

Generally, when compared to swing gates, you’ll need to pay more to own and install a sliding gate. Even if the gates are made of the same quality, materials, and size, they generally cost more. Such gates have more moving parts and these all need to be carefully calibrated in relation to each other during installation. Conventional sliding gates also require the installation of a track for the gate to follow (if one doesn’t already exist). 

Sliding Gate Space Restrictions

sliding gate showing space requirements
Sliding Gate Space Needed for Opening

Sliding gates require space to the side of the gate to open properly. Generally, the space required is the length of the gate plus about 2′ of wiggle room.


Double Slide and Tandem Gates

When there is insufficient room for a driveway gate to retract, there are other solutions. One solution would be to install a double sliding gate. An example would be a 12’ wide opening that would be split into two gate panels of 6’ each. These two panels would then either retract one to each side (Double Slide) or both to one side (Tandem).

A double slide gate is similar to a double swing in that it uses two independently operated panels. A Tandem gate is a very unique installation that uses two panels operating in tandem. Tandem gate systems can even be customized to operate three and even four-panel gates. Tandem gates aren’t very well known as they’re very difficult to engineer and install; However, we’ve become experts in these installations. Check out our recent installation below!

Other Unique Gate Styles

There are certainly other types of gates than what has been listed above. As an example, at Mulholland Brand, we have a gate that has virtually no space requirements. It literally rises from below the ground to act as a closed gate and retracts back below the ground to have the gate open.

This is the Fancy Fence system. Since a lot of work goes into engineering and installing this system, it’s definitely not a cheap product. The cost puts it out of reach for most people, but it’s still a validation of human ingenuity to even know that such a thing is possible. 

Summing it all up, there’s pretty much a solution where you can gate any property, and the choice is most often either a swing gate or a sliding gate. 

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