Sliding Gate or Swing Gate? Which is Right for My Property?

Sliding Gate

“Should I get a swing gate or a slide gate for my driveway?” That might be the earliest and most basic decision in getting a gate for your home. 

Sometimes the physical requirements at your property won’t allow a choice – it will have to be one, but not the other.

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 gates and fences. I’ve learned a lot!

I am going to show you the most basic decisions that go into deciding which is right for your property.

Read through this article and you’ll have the basic understanding of these types of gates, and you’ll be able to focus more closely on choosing the perfect gate for your property.

There are several factors that are involved and you need to consider them all before deciding. Let’s talk about these gate styles one at a time.


single swing gates
Single Swing Gate

If you are on a tight budget, this is the least expensive of all the options. 

You only need one gate opener, and just that makes a single swing gate less expensive. Single swing gates also only require half of much of the hardware (hinges, bolts, hinge posts, etc.) that would be required in a double gate. 

Single Swing Gate Space Restrictions 

Space required for gate opening of single swing gate
Space required for gate opening of single swing gate

With a single gate, you need more swing distance. As an example, a 12’ single gate would need twice the free space to accommodate the swing of a gate as a double swing gate. With a double swing gate, your space requirements are halved as each gate panel will swing only 6′. 

Both single swing and double swing gates open in either an inward direction or an outward direction. Usually inward is the best. Consider your space requirements. You need to have room for the gate to fully open in an inward direction, and you need to have room for whatever you want to store behind the gate.

Frequently people living in cities want to park their car behind the driveway gate, and there are probably other items as well. You need to have room for these and for the gate to open as well.

The average car today is about 15′ long. If your driveway is 12′ wide, your single swing gate will be 12′ wide. At the bare minimum, you’ll need at least 12′ of space behind the gate to fully open it, and if your 15′ car is parked behind it, you’ll need 27′ and that will be a very tight squeeze. You need to make sure that you have the free space to inwardly open the gate and store whatever other items as well. 

If you consider your gate opening outwards, most cities and towns have restrictions on a gate opening outward. You need to ensure the gate does not cross into any sidewalk crossing your property or 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.

Most importantly, outwardly opening swing gates are generally not safe. 

When you swing a drive gate outwards 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 brings about a collision.

In such a circumstance, pedestrians would also be at great risk.

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 Restrictions

With a single swing gate, you need a heavier duty post to hang the gate off of since all the weight is on one post. Heavy gates on single posts will need adjustments more frequently than a lighter gate, or when the weight of the gate is split between two panels, as with a double swing gate. 

Remember that various gate materials have various weights. These have to be taken into consideration when determining a swing gate for a driveway. A 14’ wide gate is going to be considerably heavier than a 10’ gate, as an example. And, an aluminum 14’ wide gate is going to weigh significantly less than an iron or a wood 14’ wide gate. 

Single Swing Gate Beauty

The single swing gate can certainly be made beautifully! However, they lack the loved and picturesque “storybook” look of the double swing gate.


Double Swing Gate
A double swing gate

Double Swing Gate Budget

The things that we mention you don’t have to pay for in a single gate, you do have to pay for in a double gate. You will need two gate openers and twice the amount of a lot of the hardware (hinges, bolts, hinge posts, etc.) that are required in a single swing gate. There is also more engineering time and installation time required in a double gate. 

Double Swing Gate Space Restrictions

Double Swing Gate Space Requirements
Double Swing Gate Space Requirements

You need less swing distance with a double 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.

Double Swing Gate Installation Considerations

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

Double Swing Gate Beauty

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. 

G180-S-2 White Glass and Aluminum Sliding Driveway Gate Mulholland Brand
A double sliding gate


Sliding gates are often used when swing gates aren’t workable. Such gates are the better choice when:

1. There isn’t room for the 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 outwards, but there remains the consideration of the gate having room to open without blocking pedestrians or vehicle traffic. 

So, whenever these circumstances exist, we take a step back and do some measurements to see if a sliding gate would be more workable. 

Sliding Gates Budget: 

Generally, you’ll need to pay more to own and to install these than you need to pay for swing gates, even when they are made of the same quality, materials, and size.  Such gates have more moving parts and these all need to be carefully calibrated in relation to each other in their installation. This results in an increase in cost. Conventional sliding gates also require the installation of a track for the gate to slide on, unless one has already been installed and the previous gate is being replaced. 

Sliding Gates Space Restrictions

sliding gate showing space requirements
Sliding Gate Space Needed for Opening

Whereas the space behind (or, occasionally, in front) of a swing gate is a factor, with a sliding gate there is a requirement for space to the side of the gate, in the direction that the gate will slide towards. You need to allow, to one side or the other of the entrance, a distance of the length of the driveway plus about 2′ of wiggle room.

Typically this results in the gate, when open, blocking a centered pedestrian entrance throughout the time that the gate is open. This usually is not a problem, in that residents and visitors have access to the property through the open driveway gate, and pedestrian gate access will again be available when the driveway gate is again closed. 

Tandem Gates

When there is insufficient room for a retracted driveway gate to move to the side, there are other solutions. One 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 (space providing) or both to one side, with one of the two panels sliding directly behind the other. You can get three and even four-panel gates this way. There isn’t an “official name” for these, as there aren’t many people creating them. We call these “Tandem Gates”

This is a lot easier to “show” than tell! Please view the video to really get the idea of this configuration.

Other Styles of Gates Including the Fancy Fence

There are certainly other types of gates than these we have listed here. As an example, at Mulholland Brand, we even 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.

We call this the Fancy Fence. We’ll soon be creating pages for it on this site. For now, here is a video about it. There’s a lot of work in creating gates like this, and also in preparing a site for it. These expenses put 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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