7 Styles of Automatic Gates Perfect for Privacy and Style

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated January 11, 2022
Automatic wooden residential gate
Photo: Kybele / Adobe Stock

Consider these gates before you push that “order” button

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An automatic gate is the ultimate luxury. It gives your home privacy and security, and all you have to do to get in or out is press a button from the comfort of your car. But there are several kinds of automatic gates to choose from, and all might not fit your exact needs.

1. Sliding Gate

Automatic sliding wooden gate
Photo: PiyawatNandeenoparit / Adobe Stock

Sliding gates simply slide to the left or right using rollers. If you choose a sliding gate, make sure the wheels don’t roll across your grass or soil, as this can damage your yard.

2. Cantilever Gate

Modern residential automatic gate
Photo: Solidago / E+ / Getty Images

Cantilever gates are almost identical to sliding gates in that they open to the left or right. But there is one caveat: rather than using rollers and wheels, this system utilizes rails instead, like how garage doors work. 

Because these automatic gates are suspended in the air when the gate is closed, they require extra width to balance out the weight. This doesn’t make them practical if you’re working with limited space—you typically only find cantilever gates on large properties or commercial properties.

3. Bi-Folding Gate

Bi-folding gates bring accordion-style doors to the gate world. The system opens the gate from the middle and causes the two sides to fold in like an accordion. It’s perfect for homeowners who have limited space for a gate and who aren’t that concerned with style.

But if the style is a consideration, you might want to skip over bi-folding gates, which aren’t typically available in wood or vinyl. But you can always customize the metal options to fit the gate aesthetic you’re going for.

4. Swing Gate

Driveway with open automatic gate
Photo: Robert Daly / KOTO / Adobe Stock

Swing gates are often the best choice for residential properties—if you have the space to accommodate them. Like a door, this type of gate opens via hinges. They also come in many different styles, so if you want a nice wooden gate that compliments your fence, you’re more than covered.

Do note that most swing gates won’t fully open to a full 180 degrees. Instead, they typically open to about 110 to 140 degrees from the closed position. This is to ensure it doesn’t hit the other side of the gate.

If you put a swing gate that’s close to your fence, you might run into spacing issues. So ensure you have enough clearance for it to function without damaging the fence.

5. Vertical Lift Gate

Vertical lift gates are exactly what they sound like—they open vertically. You can either have two vertical rails on either side of the gate that lift it straight up or have an arm that opens the gate by swinging it up. Either way, you’re going to need vertical support to ensure the gate doesn’t come crashing down.

These types of gates are great for areas that don’t have room for swing or cantilever gates. But because vertical lift gates often require an increase in vertical length, not all residential areas allow them. These types of gates are still mostly considered industrial, so you’ll only find them in commercial areas or in parking garages.

6. Vertical Pivot Gate

A vertical pivot gate almost makes your automatic gate do a somersault by pivoting upward on a bottom corner. This offers the space-saving features of the vertical lift gate without looking unsightly.

These types of gates are often the most difficult to open manually. Because it only utilizes one pivot point, it also becomes easier to break.

7. Arm Gate

Arm gates are the simplest options and don’t necessarily work as gates, but more as stopping points. They’re often found in front of businesses, entrances to gated suburbs, or apartment/condo complexes.

Should You Install an Automatic Gate Yourself?

Because you’re working with a heavy piece of metal, wood, or vinyl, it’s best to leave this job to a driveway gate installation company near you. They’ll test everything before they leave so you know your gate is automatically opening and you can start using it right away.

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