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7 Common Driveway Gate Design Errors. What I should be asking when choosing my new gate design to avoid excessive cost and frustration?

It’s time to replace your driveway gate and the options are endless, like most homeowners; you have probably spent days on Pinterest and Google trying to find inspiration. Searching general terms like gate design, driveway gate designs, security gate designs and perhaps wooden driveway gates cape town?

I guess you are inundated with options from wooden driveway gates and nutec driveway gates to simple steel security gate designs. There are a lot of providers out there and it is difficult to choose sometimes.

What will my new gate design look like?

Let’s chat about the gate design process and which questions you should be asking, I am going to be identifying pitfalls which we have come across before and discuss them so you don’t have to pay “school fees” while purchasing your new driveway gate design.

This is a big decision and let’s not make it lightly! You are about to spend upwards of R25k on a driveway gate which won’t be easy to replace if you get it wrong or your supplier doesn’t listen to your requirements.

So lets start by laying out some constants!

1 – A driveway gate is a long term decision.

How many of us are regularly going to spend thousands on a new driveway gate design? This solution must last!

The driveway gate design you are going to choose must fulfill your need… This is a non-negotiable! You don’t want to have something installed and it doesn’t solve the problem you originally identified and intended to fix.

I want to know the company will back their product! In the unlikely event of something not being 100% or an unforeseen issue, you want to know the company has a track record and is not a “fly by night” supplier. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. This is your front line of security and if there is an issue with the new driveway gate it must be sorted out quickly to maintain your security.

2 – Be realistic about the driveway gate cost.

Price is always a factor and especially with driveway gate prices. A driveway gate is a bigger ticket item. I don’t know about you but when I spend money on my house I don’t want to be coming back to the same thing later, especially not with my gate design. We look for the best deal and are always amazed by the spread in pricing from different suppliers.

While it is always easiest to just go with the cheapest quote for a driveway gate design, don’t! There are numerous driveway gate installations needing repair because the customer assumed all driveway gates were the same so went with the cheapest quote and the original supplier wouldn’t come back.

Don’t short change yourself on this purchase, you are adding value to your house and increasing your security. Evaluate the driveway gate manufacturer or supplier carefully; ask for references; check obvious items like do they have business premises and a fixed business telephone number and ask yourself, “Do I trust this person?”

I will welcome a driveway gate manufacturer or driveway gate installer with contractors public liability / third party insurance onto my property because if there is an unavoidable accident (most commonly exterior plumbing or electrical damage when digging) resulting in damage then I know I’m not going to be out of pocket without having to fight with a supplier and sour the whole experience. But that peace of mind will cost me more upfront than using an uninsured supplier.

I go into some more detail about driveway gate cost drivers in this post here.

3 – Define the visual requirements of your gate design clearly.

Because of the wide and varied options out there, you need to be clear about what you want to be seeing from your new driveway gate design. Ask yourself these questions and you will find the endless options for gate designs become a little less in your search for a new driveway gate.

  • Do you want to see through the driveway gate?
    • No > you are going to want a clad driveway gate with minimal gaps between the cladding. (Pro Tip: timber/wood requires expansion gaps unless you use tongue & groove cladding or Nutec fibre cement cladding.)
    • Yes > a steel sliding gate design will suit your requirements nicely or a wooden driveway gate or nutec driveway gate with wide gaps between the slats.
  • Do you want clean lines or something more ornate as a driveway gate?
    • Clean line on a gate design are easier to achieve so will cost less and happen quicker.
    • Ornate gate designs will stand out and be the envy of the neighborhood, however it will cost more and take longer.
  • Will you be automating the driveway gate with a gate motor?
    • This is pretty rhetorical in South Africa today but you need to ensure the driveway gate design caters for the mounting on the gate of the toothed rack and that the moving parts are free and clear.
    • You must have a clear area/section on the driveway gate for the toothed rack to mount to which blends into the gate design of the driveway gate. (Pro-Tip: Raise the motor off the ground to avoid animal and water damage.)
  • What colour will your driveway gate be?
    • A plain galvanized gate design will require less maintenance but doesn’t always blend in well with the surroundings.
    • Your painted driveway gate design will blend in with your property. Be prepared to touch up the paintwork periodically. (Your house walls need the same maintenance)

4 – Know the maintenance requirements of your driveway gate.

Nothing lasts forever and we need to know what maintenance requirements our driveway gate design is going to come with. The cost of ownership won’t stop after the product is installed. There are moving parts, gate motor repairs and driveway gate maintenance to take into consideration. Some of the items are easy enough to do yourself on a Saturday but some items will require a professional driveway gate installer or gate motor technician.

Some items to be aware of and put a cost to:

  • Wood maintenance – what is the type of sealant? How often do I apply it and how difficult is it to apply? (Pro-Tip: For less maintenance, use a hardwood like Balau or Garapa which when left raw, will weather and turn grey.)
  • Paint maintenance – what is the type of paint (Water Based or Oil Based) and how difficult is it to apply? (Pro-Tip: Water based paint on a driveway gate is easy to touch up and much better for the environment.)
  • Driveway gate wheels – how difficult is it to replace them? These are the main moving parts and can halt everything if they breakdown, especially on a weekend. (Pro-Tip: Your wheels must be at least 100mm in diameter and have sealed bearings. Request the driveway gate manufacturer to explain the replacement procedure to you.)
  • Driveway gate motors – if installed correctly then you shouldn’t need more than a standard annual check to keep it running smoothly. This is a bottomless pit if there are installation issues or the motor was incorrectly chosen. (Pro-Tip: Research the gate motor proposed and if necessary, call the manufacturer for advice. Click here for Centurion & ETNICE)
  • Keeping the track clear – sweeping the area regularly will extend the wheel life because there is less dirt getting to the bearings. Less obstructions also means less strain on the motor. (Pro-Tip: There are little driveway gate brushes available which can help here.)

All of these items can add up cost over the lifespan of a driveway gate. It’s a bit like owning a car without a maintenance plan. (Pro-Tip: Check if your driveway gate installer has a maintenance plan available for your new driveway gate. Preferably including parts.)

Common driveway gate design problems and how to avoid them.

I am going to outline some of the most common problems we see. It’s too late to fix them once the driveway gate is installed at your home.

The driveway gate flexes back and forth during travel

Space the gate wheels according to the overall length of the gate. Divide the gate length into quarters as a guideline.

The wooden driveway gate cladding is warping and pushing away from the frame.

Ensure there are expansion gaps between the slats to stop the wood from expanding against itself.

There are rust streaks down the front of the wooden driveway gate.

Only use stainless steel fasteners to fix cladding to the driveway gate frame. Cheaper plated screws will corrode in as little as a year and are prone to snap once brittle.

The driveway gate is very slow.

Don’t use any wheels below 100mm in diameter and which don’t have proper bearings. Smaller wheels in raw housings are only cheaper by a couple of hundred rand and cannot handle the load properly which puts strain on the gate motor.

The top of the sliding driveway gate wobbles badly.

Only support the driveway sliding gate using a top roller in a channel on the gate. Side rollers don’t adequately support the gate and move too much.

The gate wheels are very noisy and I’ve just replaced the bearings.

Usually this is a result of a upright gate track profile which will get ridges and damage very quickly from vehicles. Insist on a Pyramid or Round track profile for longevity.

The gate track is loose and moving on the ground.

This problem is caused by installers screwing a gate track down onto existing driveway paving. Insist on your driveway gate track being fully cast into concrete. While you will be inconvenienced while the concrete cures because you can’t drive over it, the alternative is much worse.

At Glow Innovations, we took a deep breath and decided to do the homework which will enable our potential customer to have control of the design for their own driveway gate. Because information is power, we want the customer to know more before purchasing. To this end we have curated our most popular designs into an online store – https://shop.glowinn.co.za – whi