Hot Topics: Wood Deck Gate Swelling
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When a DIYer posts a photo of a contractor job, he learns that more than a couple things were done wrong.
Original Post: Deck Gate Swelling
My new pressure treated pine gate is swelling like crazy. It will slowly rub one day and then hours/next day will go back to approx 1/2" gap allowing it to be opened/closed as expected. It is currently glued to the deck frame and I can't even open it. Is this normal?
There might be something we could observe if you included a picture. Often gates need more latch-side clearance than you would think due to the arc they must travel in order to open.
I've attached a pic of the rubbing.
We might need something from a little farther away that shows the entire gate and the post it's mounted to. Was the treated wood allowed to dry/weather before it was painted?
It was installed in October 2016 and painted a few weeks ago. I've attached more pics.
1. Your diagonal is on the wrong angle. Should have been run the other way.
2. If you just used finish nails, not trim head ACQ-approved screws, it's not doing much to keep the door from sagging.
3. I gave up a long time ago trying to use that style latch. One like this will work better: Everbilt Black Self-Adjusting Gate Latch-18591.
4. New pressure treated wood should be allowed to dry out for several months before sealing. If done too soon, you're just sealing in the moisture.
5. You made the gate too big. Trim off at least 1/4 inch.
Thanks for your help. Please see my responses to your question
1. I just noticed that. I already signed off with the contractor, so I guess it's on me at this point. Is this a big concern?
2. Finish nails in the hinges?
4. It dried from early Oct to late May. Is that sufficient time? Water was beading on the deck.
5. I will follow up with contractor.
No, not finish nails in the hinges—finish nails in the diagonal. Would be interesting to see how they fastened the 45-degree outside corners. When I do it, I use wood glue and Phillips flat-head Ledger Loc screws. Also, look at how they attached the balusters; if they just used finish nails in a pneumatic nail gun, that's also wrong. For one thing, the head's too small. Also, as far as I know, there is no ACQ-approved finish nails so they're going to rust off and fail. Yes, I know there's galvanized finish nails. Read the box—any I've seen say not for pressure treated wood. I predrill and use trim head ceramic coated decking screws.
Look for loose screws in the hinges. Observe whether or not the gate post is tilting inward and allowing the top of the gate to do as you have described. There should be no swelling if the gate is completely painted as it appears in your first photo.
Yes, the brace runs the wrong way, but the whole problem is that the door was made too big in the first place. It needs more clearance than you think. The single 4x4 holding it can bend as well...wood is not stiff like iron. The post could always be shimmed (a washer or two behind the top bolt where it attaches to the rim) if it needs to be plumbed up someday.
I'll talk to the contractor today. I'm concerned he is going to hack the snot out of it. At a minimum, the diagonal needs to change and it needs to be squared off and shimmed to allow room to swing. I took a quick picture before I left for work and it's definitely not even.
I am not having confidence with the contractor as he indicated that he always creates the gates with the same type of diagonal. He shaved 1/4" off to allow clearance, but that does not fix the sagging issue which is clear in the picture above. Is that the result of the improper design of the gate diagonal? It should not be due to the brackets as they are fixed and flush against the post. The post could be off-balance, but that would make the sagging consistent.
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