How To Choose The Right Fence Gate

how to choose the right fence

It’s the American dream: A healthy, green yard where your two kids laugh and play together, surrounded by a white picket fence. You live in a nice suburban neighborhood, and your home is the perfect replica of all the other houses, with a clear-cut and practical floor plan to house everything you could ever want. Life is good. Except that’s not the American dream for everyone, is it? 

In reality, the white picket fence isn’t the most popular choice anymore (it’s made of wood, for any curious readers, but is expected to be metal by 2032). Your neighbor might have six kids and a wood fence that’s painted some dark blue color, and your other neighbor might have a chain link fence and a dog or a child. Maybe the intimidating family across the way has a black steel fence that suits their style perfectly, and the Vikings fan down the street has a gold and purple vinyl fence to match. These days, there are so many options for fences that it can be overwhelming, and then once you choose your fence, you have to figure out how to choose the right fence gate.

At Northland Fence, we get it. We’ve been installing fences since 2004, and we’ve heard all the stories about nosy neighbors, or dogs that somehow manage to escape the yard and run wild in the neighborhood. As a family-owned business, we understand the importance of a fence and gate that will keep your kids safe, too. We also know how busy you are, so we take care of all zoning requirements and permits you need in Ramsey so you can focus on what really matters, like all of the awesome things you can do in your fenced in yard.

So, what is the best gate to keep nosy neighbors out, and your dogs and kids in? We’ll delve into all of that and more in this article.

Things to Think About Before Choosing a Fence Gate

As with most things in life, if you want to make the right decision, you can’t just jump into it blind. It’s the same when picking your gate. Here are some things to do before you get too far in the process:

  • Nail down a budget. This may seem obvious, but make sure your family gets on the same page. That way, if everyone is looking at options, there won’t be any confusion.
  • Check with your HOA. If you live in a neighborhood, sometimes there are some unexpected regulations that they want your fencing and gate to follow.
  • Learn about your options. You’re probably already in the thick of this if you’re reading this post at all, so you’re off to a great start. There are a ton of features for gates these days, even beyond style and material (which are also important to do research on). Do you need something extra secure? Something with a keycode? Something automated? One where you need to press a buzzer to alert the mystery doorman who looks through a security camera to confirm your identity before he lets you in? Take a look at what’s out there first.
  • Take measurements. You’ll want to make sure your gate will fit where you need it, and that it’s exactly the same height as every other gate in the neighborhood, if that’s what your HOA demands. It’ll also help you better visualize what you need when you look more into gates.
  • Think about maintenance. Spending time fixing anything related to fencing is the worst, so don’t forget to consider how much effort you’ll have to put into keeping your gate in tip-top shape. 
picking perfect gate fencing

Available Fence Gate Styles for Every Function

After you work through the preliminary planning, it’s time to look into what style gate suits you best. There are a lot, so you’re bound to find something that suits the function you need it for and your home’s personality:

  • Standard gates. These are probably the ones that you think of right away when you think of gates. They match the material and height of the rest of your fence to give a nice, uniform look. If you actually do have a white picket fence, this would be a great option for you, if you want to be conventional.
  • Security gates. These do not come with a mystery doorman outside of whoever happens to be in your house at the time, but they do have some similar functions. Some modern-day gates actually do work on a buzzer system, but those usually involve whoever is inside pressing a button on their smartphone to let whoever is outside in. There are lots of Bluetooth and keypad options, and sometimes they incorporate security cameras too. 
  • Double gates. If your gate crosses your driveway, or you’d otherwise have to squeeze something through a normal gate often, a double gate might work for you. They are usually heavy, though, and can be a pain to maintain, especially if you want to be able to open one side without having to open the other.
  • Specialty gates. These are the gates that can be tailored to your personal situation. If you’re working with less (or more) space than a typical gate can work for, a specialty gate will be the way to go. You’ll also be able to customize these a little more than other options.
  • Ornamental gates. These are what you might refer to as “fancy gates.” The impressive gate you drive by that you can only assume belongs to someone who could buy your house five times over is probably an ornamental gate. Usually made of metal, they can often be customized to include a design of your choice.
  • Hidden gates. If you want to make anyone looking at your fence too long wonder how in the world they can get into your yard at all, hidden gates are a good option. They blend seamlessly into the rest of your fencing so you can’t even see the entrance. They’re great if privacy is really important to you.

But Wait, There’s More! Types of Fence Gate Openings

After you think you’ve settled on the style gate you want, there’s even more to consider. You’ll want to figure out the best way to open your gate. Yes, there are lots of options here, too! Here are the main ones:

  • Swing gates. It’s a classic. These are the most common gates, and are the ones on hinges that either swing outward or inward. They usually have latches to keep them closed.
  • Cavalier gates. These also swing open, but you can consider them the double doors of gates, because they open from the middle.
  • Sliding gates. There are a bunch of different kinds of sliding gates, but we’ll put them all in one category because they all slide left or right to open. Cantilever gates slide using a counterbalanced system and float a little off the ground. Others use wheels on a track to open, and there are other options too. You can always ask a fencing company (like Northland Fence) about them.
  • Bi-Folding gates. These versatile gates are large in their default state, and have four hinges instead of two. Like cavalier gates, they open from the middle, and fold in on themselves, able to accommodate pedestrians and cars easily, all while not leaving a bunch of unnecessary open space.
  • Pivot gates. These are rarely residential, but we’ll include them just for fun. Pivot gates are usually big and open upwards at a 90-degree angle. They’ll hang out on their side until you put them back down.
  • Vertical gates. Another kind that is rarely residential is vertical gates. They’re usually attached to pretty big “posts” of some kind on either side. They slide upwards to open and allow passage underneath.


Common Fence Gate Materials to Consider…Or Avoid

Next, it’s time to think about what you want your new gate to be made out of. Big surprise: there are a lot of options here too, but these are the most common:

  • Wood. Wood gates are incredibly popular, but we actually aren’t the biggest fan of them. We’re operating by the “first is the worst” principle here. What do we have against wood gates? They’re susceptible to rotting and staining due to moisture, so aside from eventually falling apart, it’s hard to keep them looking good long-term. The good thing about wood fences and gates is that they’re easy to customize as far as staining and color go.
  • Vinyl. Vinyl gates are getting increasingly easier to customize. Unlike wood, vinyl can be formed into different shapes for fences. Additionally, they’re incredibly low maintenance and withstand the elements well. Vinyl fence installation might be the only fence installation you’ll ever need; that’s how awesome we think vinyl is.
  • Wrought Iron. These gates aren’t necessarily made of iron, and in fact, we’d recommend installing steel fencing over other kinds of wrought iron. Wrought iron gates, especially of the ornamental variety, can be beautiful, impressive, and importantly, sturdy.
  • Chain link. Chain link fence installation in residential areas can be a little unusual, but it’s effective, especially if you have pets. They’re not the best as far as privacy goes, considering you can see through chain link, but if your main priority is just keeping things in and out of your yard, it’ll work just fine.
choosing fence entryway options

Contact Northland Fencing for Fence Gate Installation in Ramsey, Minnesota

Have you settled on what your American dream gate looks like after reading this? It’s a big decision, so it’s okay if you haven’t; in fact, taking more time to think about it is a good idea. It’s a good idea to give your favorite Minnesotan fencing company a call to talk about your options, too.

At Northland Fence, our mission is to provide high-quality, American-made fences with best-in-class customer service. We’re prepared to install your fence and gate for you no matter what time of the year it is. For more information on what we can do for you, call us at (763) 316-4881. We’ll be happy to help.


How do I choose the right fence gate?

A lot goes into choosing the right gate. You’ll want to think about your budget, what works best for your location, and how much maintenance you’re willing to put up with. After that, you need to figure out what style of gate you want, how you want the gate to open, and what material you want the gate to be made out of.

How big should my fence gate be?

It depends on what you need to use your gate for. Most gates exist with the purpose of letting pedestrians in and out, but there are also larger gates if you want your gate to go across a driveway, or otherwise fit something large through it. As far as height goes, you’ll want it to be about the same height as your fence.

Should your gate match your fence?

Traditionally, yes, but it doesn’t have to match exactly. Colors and materials should be complementary, and fit the overall look you want for your landscaping. It’s entirely up to you, though; the only rules on what you can and can’t do with your gate will be whatever your HOA says, if you have one.

How do I choose the right gate material for my property?

One of the most important things to do is think about what will be most practical for your location. Choose materials that will last a long time in the environment you live in first and foremost. After that, it’s just a matter of what you think suits the look you want the most.

Get a Free Quote

Whether you’re looking for a beautiful, maintenance-free vinyl privacy fence, a sturdy chain link fence, or a ornamental fence, we’re ready to show you why we’re Minnesota’s highest and best rated fence company.

Use this form to request a free estimate or call us at 763-325-8211.

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