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bi-parting swing gate, electric sliding gate, architect-on-demand, advice-without-strings

I am in the process of deciding what kind of an entrance/driveway gate is appropriate for a client’s property. Should it be an electric sliding gate or a bi-parting swing gate? The height is pre-determined by the local code and it cannot exceed 48”, which means that this gate will not function as a privacy or security barrier, but as a clear demarcation between public and private domains.

Well, quite comfortable to think out loud, I ask: What are my requirements and considerations?

Automation a.k.a. ease of use is number one. And it would be most convenient to have a motorized gate that can be operated from an approaching car with a remote control as one enters. It also needs to have the ability to open automatically when a car is nearing it on its way out.

A grade beam and posts combined keep bi-parting swing gate leafs in precise alignment. Sturdy fence posts and heavy hinges bear the weight.

Aesthetics a.k.a. curb appeal. A single leaf swing gate has a practical limited width of 16’. A bi-parting swing gate can be up to 32’ wide. Gates that swing in are preferred. That means that it has to have a linear arm operator (located outside of the gate) that pushes it open and pulls it closed. Not so sightly.

A bi-parting swing gate has an elegant, regal even, appearance. However, it makes sense visually when it reaches above eye level.

For that reason, I am leaning in the direction of an electric sliding gate. It’ll be equipped with an infrared obstacle sensor to prevent the gate from closing while a vehicle or another obstruction is in the way.

bi-parting swing gate, electric sliding gate

Wood or metal? The existing fence is made out of wood; it’s quite traditional and pretty much concealed by a hedge. I am inclined to break away from this conventional aesthetic and introduce something contemporary-transitional. How about combining wood and metal?

bi-parting swing gate, electric sliding gate

There are practical advantages to a metal sliding gate: if not maintained regularly, wood gates can warp, which means that they will not close properly. Metal (steel or aluminum) gates are more robust than wood, especially against the wind. They also require less maintenance.

bi-parting swing gate, electric sliding gate

Our gate needs a bottom clearance of 4-5”. We’ll go with a steel frame and wooden boards. There are a few off-the-shelf options to choose from when it comes to a gate opening system. Next, I will lay it out and decide to which side the gate will slide while in operation. I need to make sure that there’s enough room to install the track. By the way, it’s very important to level the track. Also, I can’t forget about incorporating the pedestrian gate to provide access without a need to operate a heavy automated system.

bi-parting swing gate, electric sliding gate


  • Alexander Popov
    September 28, 2018

    Thorough and thoughtful analysis with elegant solution. Can we get gate like this at our place?

    St Peter

  • Mia S Kazovsky
    September 29, 2018

    I agree that a sliding gate sounds like the right choice! Do they take up less room than bi-parting swing gates? I also agree that the swing option is regal, but probably it would lose its regality at that jumpable height. I love the sound of combining wood and metal. Or maybe reclaimed metal? A modern structure using old materials? If you’re designing it, it will be regal no matter what.

    • Alla DIY Ally
      October 3, 2018

      Mia, flattery will get you everywhere! Thank you!

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