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Should a Gate Open In or Out?

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An age-old conundrum for many homeowners is whether a gate is supposed to open in or out.

Many people may be tempted to install gates that open outward, thinking that it will be easier for kids to open, or that they’ll want it to move outward as they’re carrying stuff from the backyard into the garage.

However, gates, in almost all instances, should either open both ways or inward. Whether you’re installing a mechanical driveway gate or gate on the side of your house that leads to the garden, inward is usually the preferred configuration.

opened Manor gate

Experts say gates should open inward in most cases because it’s safer. It also can look better because hinges and other mechanical devices can go on the inside of your property.

That’s important for some people who want the outside of their fence or driveway to look smooth and uniform.

Finally, making your gate open inward may be the law. Many local ordinances govern small things like which way a gate opens. You could be required to install it so it opens inward.

Here are some of the things you should consider when you’re installing a gate.

Driveway Gate

Driveway Gate

The majority of driveway gates should open inward so drivers can pull out further into the street safely.

If your gate opens outward, it could impede traffic on the street. It could also obscure drivers’ views as they pull out of your property. If they can’t see oncoming traffic very well, it increases the chances of an accident.

This rule doesn’t apply to every property. If your driveway is set well off from the common street, then you can arrange for the gate to open outward. Just make sure it’s safe before you do.

Front Gate

Front gates should open inward most of the time for many of the same reasons a driveway gate should. If your house sits right next to a public sidewalk, for example, an outward gate could block the walkway.

It’s a sure way to get complaints from your neighbors or any people who pass by walking their dog while your gate is open. You could also be held liable if anyone knocks into your open gate and injures themselves on a public sidewalk. Better to be safe than sorry.

Garden Gate

Garden Gate

A garden gate has a bit more leeway on which way it opens because it’s unlikely that it impacts other people.

However, again, you probably want this gate to open in because you’re more likely to be carrying supplies into your garden than pulling them out on your way back to the house.

People with kids also like gates that open inward because they keep kids inside better. It’s much harder for a small child to open a gate and pull it in rather than push against it and have it swing open.

The longer it takes them to open, the more chance a parent will have to spot an escape and react in time.

The same goes for pets. Dogs are notorious for being good at opening gates that open out.

Gates that open in, however, pose more of a challenge. With a gate that opens in, you can have peace of mind knowing that it’s harder for your dog to get out of the yard.

5 Considerations for Deciding Which Way Your Gate Should Open

  • Hinge/Opening Mechanism – Your hinge or opening mechanism is usually on the inside because it looks cleaner. Most people want their gates to be uniform with the walls or fence that it is part of. The only way to keep people from seeing the hinge or opening motor is to put them on the inside, which means your gate will open in. Having a gate open out will expose whatever opening mechanism you have on a mechanical gate, which could expose it to damage from vandals or people who want to get inside.
  • How Large Is the Gate? – If your driveway is big enough, then by all means install a gate that opens out. Just make sure you’re not breaking any local codes. The size of your gate will determine whether it can open out safely without getting into traffic.
  • Where It Is Located – If your gate is right on the street, then you’ll want it to open in to avoid any issues. However, if you’ve got a good setback, then you can investigate installing an outward gate.
  • Talk to Your Local Government – Before you start purchasing materials and building things on your property, you should get up to speed on local codes and what’s required concerning gates. Redos can be expensive and a waste of time.
  • Link Up with a Contractor – When in doubt, you can always ask a contractor to come by to discuss options. They’ll probably have years of experience that will lend a hand to whatever you’re considering.
white front gate

Think About Other Gate Options

You don’t have to worry about a gate opening in or out if you don’t want to. There are other options out there.

Though it does look lovely when a nice black steel gate opens to welcome guests or coming home after a long day of work, it’s not your only choice. A lot of people opt instead for rolling gates to save space and eliminate worries about safety when they are close to roads.

Rolling gates sit on wheels inside of a track, and, when activated, the entire gate slides along the side of the fence or wall it’s attached to. They don’t take up much space and don’t require a ton of maintenance.

Most gates open in. In most cases, it’s not a rule set in stone, but rather one of convenience, safety, and common sense.

If you prefer a gate that opens out, first make sure it’s legal to install it that way and find a solution that works for your property and your budget. Having a beautiful gate on your home or commercial property will look amazing and make moving in and out each day easier.

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