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How to install a swing gate

How to install a swing gate

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield

Guide written by:

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield

92 guides

Swing gates are a really popular option for property entrances. They are easy to install, attractive and come in a wide range of models. From hinge placement to gate locks, the way in which you install your gate will play a role in how secure it is. Read on for our step-by-step guide on how to install a swing gate in your driveway.

Important features

  • Perform pre-installation checks
  • Prepare to install the swing gate
  • Mark out the position of the gate and install
  • Check and adjust the gate
  • Sloping entrances and electric gates
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Swing gates can provide the entrance point to any type of land but they do require enough clearance to swing open. While generally designed to open inwards, so as not to block a public passageway, a swing gate can open outwards as long as the space in front of it is on private property.

In order to install a swing driveway gate, you'll need two plumb pillars which must be sturdy enough to support the weight of the gate. The ground must be flat so the gate can open freely. Bear in mind that your choice of gate may be limited if you live in a conservation area and you may require planning permission if you are erecting a new gate as opposed to replacing an old one.


  1. Perform pre-installation checks
  2. Prepare to install the swing gate
  3. Mark out the position of the gate and install
  4. Check and adjust the gate
  5. Sloping entrances and electric gates

General points

If you are installing a metal gate or a wooden gate, the hinges, handle and drop bolt will probably come installed or at the very least the gate will come with pre-drilled holes for fitting the hardware. For PVC gates, you will probably have to fit everything to the gate yourself. No matter which model you go for, be sure to check that all accessories are supplied and read the product description carefully.

Gates hinged in the centre of the pillars

In this case, the gate is installed between the two pillars and is mounted more or less in the centre of each pillar. The hinges are fitted on the inside at the top and base of each pillar. The inconvenience of this set-up is that the gates will only be able to open to around 90° maximum.

The gate must be roughly 60 to 80 mm narrower than the distance between the pillars.

Gates hinged at the corner of the pillars

In this case, the hinges are fitted on the inside face of the pillars which allows the gate to open to 180°. Don't forget to protect yourself against break-ins – do not fit the hinges on the outside face of the pillar using screws that can be tackled by the first intruder who comes along with just a socket wrench or a screwdriver!

Locking the gate

It's also important to check that the drop bolt is not accessible when the gate is closed.

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Slotted screwdrivers

At this stage, the gate foundation should be ready (complete with a hole for the drop bolt), the pillars should be in place and the electrical conduit should be set up in case you want to install an electric gate opener at a later date.

The size of the opening should be big enough to allow your car(s) to pass through easily as well as any vehicles that may use the driveway occasionally such as delivery or moving vans. The ground should be perfectly flat and level. Place your spirit level on a 2 to 3-metre straight edge to check the ground is level. The height of the pillar needs to exceed the height of the gate itself by about 10 to 15 cm.

Check that the pillars are square.

  • To do so, mark the pillars at a height of 1.5 metres from the ground.
  • Mark out 2 metres on the ground starting from the base of the pillar.
  • Measure the distance between the two points – the diagonal should measure 2.5 metres. If not, or if you have noticed any other issues, you will have to make up the difference by adjusting the hinges. Bear in mind that if you add hinge pins, this will leave an unsightly gap between the gate and the pillar from the outside.

No matter whether you are installing the gate on the corner of the pillars or on the inside, you will have to start by positioning the gate upright between the pillars where it will be installed.

  • Grab some wooden spacers, timbers and two long planks (one for each side of the gate). Clamp the two leaves of the gate together at the top on both sides using a length of wood measuring roughly the same as the gap between the pillars. You can use two sets of clamps and four boards for more stability, depending on the gate.
  • Ensure the gate is securely in one piece and place it on top of your spacers. With all your spacers in place and the gate forming one piece, mark out the position of the drop bolt on the ground and the upper and lower hinges. You can then proceed to drilling the holes for the hinges. Use your marks to pre-drill your holes using a smaller drill bit than required to ensure you don't drill too far from the marks you have made.
  • Pick the correct wall plugs for your surface and insert them into your holes before inserting the screws through the hinge plates. If you're not absolutely sure of your measurements, set the gate into position after drilling your first hole (with the hinge in place) to check it lines up properly.
  • If the hinge is designed to be mortared into the pillar, you will need to leave the gate in place while the mortar cures setting up an alternative entrance in the meantime.
  • Once everything is dry, remove the spacers and boards.
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Metal screws

  • Check that the gate leaves are positioned correctly and set about fitting the drop bolt and catch with the gate closed.
  • The gap between the two leaves must be even. If necessary, adjust the hinges.
  • Secure the handle and strike plate.
  • Open each side of the gate as far as possible to position the gate stops.

A small footing or concrete slab can be used to fit your door stops in the position of your choice.

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Door stops and wedges

If your entrance is on a slope, you must use special offset hinges that are adjustable at the base. These hinges are called 'uphill hinges' or rising hinges. When the gate opens, the upper part of the leaves will part from the pillar and the base will follow the slope.

If you plan to automate the gate, you will need to ensure that the gate is reinforced around the areas where the electric gate fittings will go (especially if it is made of PVC).

Remember – electric gates don't require a gate handle or latch.
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Electric gates

Required skills

Installing a gate involves a series of fairly straightforward tasks that can be tackled by any DIYer. Knowing how to use a spirit level, take accurate measurements, install clamps and being in generally good shape – since metal and wooden gates can be heavy – are the main requirements for installing a swing gate. You should also know how to drill a wall, be able to pick suitable wall plugs and mix mortar.

Time required

4 to 8 hours depending on installation (factor in mortar curing time if necessary)

Number of people required

2 people

Tools and equipment

Safety and workwear

Please note: this is a non-exhaustive list; be sure to match your personal protective equipment to the job at hand.

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Safety and workwear
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Guide written by:

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield, 92 guides

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield

I was trained as a pipe worker and a pipe-welder and after having travelled for 35 years working around the UK, I became the head of a metal shop, then a designer and in the end the head engineer. I have designed and built a workshop where I make metal sculptures: I managed to find a piece of paradise where I can let my imagination run wild. Auctions and garage sales are no secret to me. I find unusual objects and old tools there that I collect or transform into works of art. I also like decoration, painting on canvas, and gardening. I am developing new technologies concerning tools. To share my passion and advise you in your choice of materials is a real pleasure.

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