Adding a Gate to an Existing Wood Fence

In addition to avoiding expensive skilled labor costs, there are other advantages in building your own wood fence gate. You can take your time, make adjustments, and can choose your own gate style without unwanted advice from others. The project is one that will be simple and will not require a lot of specialty tools that you may not have. To build your fence just follow the 6 steps below.

Things you'll need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • 1" X 6" Lumber
  • 4" X 4" posts, or railroad ties (2)
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver drill bits
  • 1 ½" Wood screws
  • Shovel
  • Ready mix concrete

Step 1 – Determine Your Preferred Gate Size

Decide the width and height you'll want your gate to be. You'll need to include factors such as space for hinges (approximately 1" ) and space that will be used for the gate to swing open and closed (approximately 1"). Another factor will be gate usage. Will you want to drive a vehicle through the gate? Will you want to drive a riding lawnmower through it? If so, measure the width of the vehicle or lawn mower, then add extra space (especially if you'll be driving a car or truck through it). Will you want the gate for privacy purposes? If so, will you want it high enough that people won't be able to see over it?

Step 2 – Sketch Your Gate

Create a sketch of your planned gate. Include dimensions that show the size and spacing of your gate boards and brace boards. If your dimensions are accurate and on scale, you can use this sketch to estimate the lumber you'll need for your gate.

Step 3 – Determine Bracing Requirements

Your gate is likely to sag, to some degree. How much it sags will depend on the bracing you choose, on the weight of the gate, and on the wood or material the gate is made from. Hardwood will sag less than softer wood. For a simple brace that will support a smaller and lighter weight gate, you can use a Z brace. This brace is constructed with 2 horizontal boards, one on the top of the gate, one at the bottom. Then attach a diagonal board from the upper right hand corner to the bottom left hand corer. For a larger gate, use an X brace that is similar to the Z brace but has an additional diagonal brace board from upper left to lower right.

Step 4 - Selecting Wood and Hardware

In choosing gate wood, stay away from wood with knots or knot holes. They will weaken your gate. Buy a gate latch and gate hangers (probably 2) that will be strong enough to support your gate. Buy enough screws to attach all your gate pieces.

Step 5 – Constructing the Gate

Dig post holes for your posts, and plant your posts in concrete. Be sure they are plumb before the concrete sets.

Step 6 – Assemble and Hang Your Gate

Cut and lay out your gate pieces, and attach them according to your sketch, including braces. Add hardware, then when your post concrete is set, attach your gate to the posts.