Are you looking to spruce up your garden with a new gate? A gate, even a simple one, can add a touch of cosy and elegance to any lawn. Armed with the right tools and a bit of time on your hands, you should be able to make a garden gate on your own.
The good news is that you only need intermediate skills to pull this one of. Read our easy-to-understand guide and you will have a quaint little gate in your garden in no time.
Tools for Garden Gate Building
Gather these tools to get your project underway:
- Top runner
- Bottom runner
- Diagonal braces
- Side planks
- Vertical planks
- Mitre saw
- 3-inch stainless steel nails
- Carpenter’s level
- Tape measure
- Drill and impact drive
Step-by-Step Guide on Building a Garden Gate
Follow these steps to build a wooden gate for your garden:
Step 1. Take note of all the necessary measurements
The first step is to measure everything you will need to set up the gate.
- Measure the width of the entryway where you want to install the gate. Take note of the bottom, middle, and top measurement because they might be different. Record the smallest measurement for later use.
- Give the gate a 60mm clearance from the ground to protect the wood from rotting.
- Plan for each hole where you will fix the posts to be 6 inches deep or deep enough to sink about 1/2 of the post. The diameter of the hole should be three times the size of the post.
Step 2. Dig post holes
The two holes where you will insert the posts should be at least 6 inches deeper than you will bury the posts. Ideally, you will insert the post ½ of its length. Remember that the diameter of the hole should be three times that of the post.
Step 3. Bury and anchor the posts
Generally, a garden gate should not be more than four feet tall. For this size of gate, you will need posts measuring five inches by 5 inches.
Before burying the posts, apply waterproofing material such as paint or engine oil to the bottom of the post to slow down rotting and prevent attacks from soil pests.
Prior to inserting the posts, pour dry concrete mix into the holes and fill it with water. Stir to mix the concrete with water. Then, bury the posts in their respective holes. Ensure that the posts are sanded, primed and treated. Let the posts stand undisturbed overnight to ensure that they are properly anchored.
Pro tip: Ensure that your posts are sturdy enough not to wrap. Leave them outside for about a week or so to check whether they can withstand weather elements. This process is known as proving.
Step 4. Build the gate frame
The frame is a simple square upon which the gate will be attached. To build the frame:
Use a mitre saw to cut the bottom and top runner as well as the side planks that will constitute the frame. The top runner should be a few inches shorter than the rough opening of the fence. The sidepieces of the frame should also be 2-3 inches shorter than the height of the gate.
Pre-drill all the four planks that will make up the frame before driving screws in them. Pre-drilling prevents the wood from splitting.
Arrange the four planks on a flat surface in the way you would want the frame to appear. Place the side planks underneath the top runner and drive 3-inch nails through the edge of the planks to the top runner.
Repeat this process with the bottom runner, placing it in between the side planks about five inches from the lower end of the each plank. Drive screws through the bottom plank through to the stiles.
Step 5. Install a diagonal brace
The frame will support the gate’s entire weight so it is important that it is strong and stable and not wiggly. A diagonal brace, attached at an angle to the bottom and top runner of the frame, help with this.
Take a 2 ½ inch wide wooden plank and make a mark at the centre of each end of it. Place this plank into the frame with one end touching the corner between the top runner and side plank and the other fitted in the corner between the bottom runner and side plank.
Use a pencil to trace the top and bottom corner of the diagonal plank. Then, use a circular saw to cut along the marked corners at a 45-degree angle. Next, fit the diagonal plank into the frame and drive 3-inch screws through the edges of the plank into the top and bottom runners respectively.
Step 6. Build the front face of the gate
With your frame ready, you can now build the gate. To do this, you will need to attach vertical planks to the front side of the frame.
- First, measure the distance between the inside of the top and bottom runners of the frame. Use these dimensions to vertical cut planks to fit in the frame.
- Attach the vertical planks to the frame by driving in 3-inch screws through the edge of the planks to the top runner of the frame. Repeat this with the bottom piece of the frame, leaving a 1/8 inch distance between the planks.
Step 7. Install hinges and mount the gate to the fence
Now that you have a complete gate, the next step is to fix the hinges and attach the gate to the fence.
Before positioning the hinges, centre the gate in between the posts and shim it to ensure that it is levelled. To do this, insert wooden props underneath the gate and shims between the gate and the posts. Ensure that the gap between the gate and post on each side is even.
Adjust the shims, adding more if necessary until the gate is level. Use a carpenter’s level to check that the gate is plumb and level.
Next, make marks on the post where you would like to install the hinges and predrill on these marks. It helps to have a second pair of hands here to hold the gate in place as you prepare to install the hinges.
With the gate propped up and centred on the fence, screw the hinges into the gate and the post on one side.
Step 8. Install the latch
With the gate hinged to the fence, all that is left is to install a latch. Use a pencil to mark where you want to attach the latch. Then, pre-drill pilot holes and screw the stop to the post.
Next, place the latch on the top rail and align it with the stop on the post. Again, drill pilot holes and drive 3-inch screws to attach the latch.
That’s it! You have successfully made a gate. You can now sit back and enjoy your picturesque garden.
We have a few more recommendations to help you get the most out of your project.
Choose the right type of wood
For outside gates such as the garden gate you are looking to build, the best types of woods are softwoods.
In particular, redwood is a great option as it is resistant to wrapping and pest attacks, and easily matches most existing garden fences. If you are on a tight budget, the pine might be a good option.
Save the high quality wooden planks for your gate
You do not have to break the bank to build a good-looking gate. The secret to an attractive garden gate is using top quality boards.
Select strong, unsplintered, and clean planks that will give your property enviable curb appeal.
Select appropriate hardware
Many people make the mistake of installing door hardware on a gate. Door hardware comes with a strike plate and latch that might not sustain the expansion and contraction that a gate may be subjected to.
We recommend buying door hardware that is specifically designed for outdoor use and can withstand the elements and the wood movement of an exterior door. If security is a concern, consider installing a latch that comes with a deadbolt.
Opt for an A-frame brace
Most wooden gates use a z-frame for support and stability. While this works just fine, an A-frame brace might offer more stability and keep the gate strong for longer.
An A-pattern brace is a particularly smart choice for a high traffic gate that is prone to shifting and sagging. So, in this case, instead of using one diagonal brace, you will use two.
Place the braces between the top and bottom runner in such a way that they meet at the centre of the top runner to form the latter A.
A well-built gate can add curb appeal to your garden and property in general. As you can see from our guide, you do not have to be a pro to make a garden gate. As long as you have the right tools and instructions, you can build a simple gate that will make a big difference.
Do you have any questions or comments about building a garden gate? Let us know below; we’d love to hear from you!