8 Tips To Build A Wood Fence Gate

April 6, 2015 ~ Posted By Kathy Crum

One of the most important parts of a fence is the fence gate.  There’s nothing more unappealing to a fence expert then seeing a perfectly beautiful wood fence that flows as you scan it, only to have that view interrupted by a sagging or warped gate.

Gates are often the most difficult part of your fence installation as you have to be spot on with your measurements and you often need one additional pair of hands when it comes time to hang the gate off your posts.  If you’re a DIY enthusiast and have never built a gate before, here are some tips on how to build a wood fence gate. 

double wood fence gate

Set Your Opening First

Prior to building the fence and the gate, establish the opening first for where your gate will go.  A lot of DIYers often measure and mark the entire boundary without considering where the gate will go, which means some get to the end of the installation and realize that the gate area is either too small or too large.  Setting your opening first means you’ll know exactly how wide the gate will be and how much material you’ll need for building the gate itself.

We typically recommend that your gate area be no wider than four feet when building a single gate.  Anything wider than that and you will need to measure and build a double gate, which meets in the middle.

Get the Right Materials to Build Your Wood Fence Gate

Whether you’re building a new wooden gate with a new fence or replacing an existing wood fence gate, make a checklist of the tools and fencing materials you’ll need to build the gate.  Below are the common tools most DIYers need to get the job done:

  • Screwdriver
  • Power drill
  • Compound miter saw
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Jigsaw, for cutting a decorative profile
  • 3-inch stainless steel coated deck screws, for putting the box frame together
  • 1 ¼ or 1 ⅝ stainless steel or coated deck screws, for planking
  • Hinges
  • Lock (if you want extra security!)

Use Your Best Boards for Your Wood Fence Gate

Since gates are often a focal point for the fence, save your best boards for building a gate.  Set those 2X4 boards aside before you commence your build so you know you’ll have the best pieces of wood available to you when it comes time to assemble your gate.  After all, this is the part of your fence that everyone will notice; make sure you’ve got the sturdiest and cleanest boards for this entrance way onto your property.

Double Nail Your Gate Boards

Over the years, the one thing we’ve learned about gates is that over time, your boards will naturally shift as they try to maintain their shape and deal with the elements.  Boards can also move out of place depending upon how much pressure is placed on them as people come and go from the yard.  At Frederick Fence, we double-nail our boards to keep them from shifting.  You have no idea how much of a difference this can make for your fence gate, but trust me, over time you’ll be thankful for using a few extra nails when assembling your gate!

wood fence gate

Build the Best Brace Possible to Keep Your Wood Fence Gate Together

At Frederick Fence, one of our signature touches on almost all of our fence gates is the use of an A-frame when building the brace.  We think the A-frame is much better than the standard Z pattern a lot of other companies and DIYers use as the A-frame brace provides greater reinforcement for maintaining the gate’s form, and it also offers stronger reinforcement, particularly if your gate becomes a high traffic area to get in and out of your property.

Once you’ve assembled the wooden boards, we recommend lining up the runners on the gate to match the runners on your fence, giving you a clean, streamlined look that creates a better sense of flow.  Once you nail your runners, take two pieces of wood and place them on the diagonal so they meet just under your top runner in the middle to form the letter A.  Make sure you double measure your cuts so the diagonal pieces fit between each runner.  To reinforce the entire frame, we use galvanized truss plates to hold the frame in place.

Choose a Gate Latch to Match Your Needs

We get asked if it’s okay to use traditional door hardware to install a gate.  This is a HUGE mistake!  Door hardware is essentially different from gate hardware. Door hardware makes use of an internal latch and strike plate and can only extend so far for the latch to work.  Given that a traditional door doesn’t tend to swell or shrink because of Mother Nature’s changing weather patterns, we advise you to never use regular door hardware for a gate unless you’re prepared to become a fence repair expert.

Gate latches are made specifically for outdoor use and are designed to accommodate seasonal wood movement. For a 4-foot tall gate, we recommend using a simple slam latch; for a 6-foot tall gate, we suggest installing an ornamental thumb latch.  If you want a bit of extra security and want to provide for optimal protection for your loved ones, we recommend installing a latch with an added deadbolt.

Align Gate Hinges Carefully

Failure to hang your wood gate hinges perfectly in a straight line on the pivot point of the hinges means they may bind and creak when the gate opens and closes.  Hinges that are truly out of alignment means that your gate won’t swing at all.  When you hang your fence, make sure you measure twice and use a pencil to mark where your hinges should go on the post, and then put the gate down. Predrill where the screws will go and then prop up the gate and screw the hinges into the gate and attach the hinges to the post.  This is where having another person helps with the installation.

Hinges for Pool Gates

When it comes to wood fence pool gates, make sure your pool gate is self-closing.  A majority of counties require you to have self-closing gates as a major safety measure.  When you buy hinges for your wooden fence gate that protects your pool area, remember to look for self-closing spring loaded hinges to do the job.

Ready to Buy A Wood Fence?

If you’re ready to install a wood fence, or if you’re a DIYer and want to build a fence on your own, contact us today to schedule an appointment! Our knowledgeable staff can design a fence that meets your needs and your budget.

Image Credit: ©2015 Frederick Fence Co. All rights reserved.


3 Responses to “8 Tips To Build A Wood Fence Gate”

  1. Gaston Parizeau Says: May 13th, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    It’s true that the gate tends to be the most difficult part of a fence to install, as it is the only moving part. This is even more true when one is building the fence and gate themselves, as everything must be done right. A guide such as this, however, should help even a novice to construct a perfect, working gate for their fence.

  2. Drew Says: August 19th, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Gates are definitely the toughest part of building a fence, so this is great advice. Good idea to use the best boards for building it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Justin Says: October 21st, 2017 at 12:34 am

    I decided to try the A frame design on my gate, and I must say it’s great. Not only was it easy to build, but it’s very sturdy! I appreciate the tip. Thanks

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