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What Are the Best Tips for Making DIY Gates?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 17, 2024
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DIY gates may be necessary for a number of different situations. They may keep dogs and small children in the safety of their own backyards. Gardens can be protected from deer and other herbivores by them. Those who have livestock may need to keep animals corralled. In any of these cases, DIY gates require several things. The first is a sturdy frame that doesn’t sag or stick. The second is a strong gate door that swings smoothly outward. Other considerations include the width of the gate and how solid it needs to be.

The gate frame is one of the most important parts of most DIY gates. Without a sturdy frame, the gate may not stand up to strong storms, venturing dogs, or unruly livestock. The left and right edges of most DIY gates should be made of 4 inch by 4 inch (about 100 mm by 100 mm) posts. When cut, the posts should generally by about 2 feet (about 48 cm) longer than the desired height of the gate. For instance, if a gardener wants to create a garden gate about 6 feet (about 144 cm) high, he or she needs two posts about 8 feet (about 192 cm) tall.

The next thing to consider when building DIY gates is width. Generally, the builder should measure the width of the widest thing he or she intends to bring through the gate and add about 1 foot (about 24 cm) to that measurement to find the width of the gate. After that, he or she can assemble the gate frame. This usually involves screwing a top crosspiece between the ends of the two side posts. Not all gates have a top crosspiece, or lintel, but this piece usually prevents the gate from sagging and collapsing in on itself.

Once the frame is assembled, the builder should dig the holes for the bottoms of the side posts. This may be done with a post-hole digger or a small shovel. The builder should always mark exactly where the holes should be with colored property spray paint. This ensures the holes are parallel to each other and spaced as perfectly as possible. The holes should be about 2 feet (about 48 cm) deep to ensure the gate is sturdy.

After digging the holes, the builder should slip the ends of the frame posts into the holes and really pack in the dirt around them. When pushed, the gate frame should not move. Once the gate frame is in place, it is time to think about the gate itself. Most gates are simply a rectangular assembly set on hinges in the gate frame. These are relatively simple to put together with screws and a few pieces of wood. Those with animals should create a solid gate, while those without these concerns may build a more open gate.

The gate door itself starts with a rectangular frame about 1 inch (about 2 cm) narrower than the inside measurement of the gate frame assembled above. Gate door frames are usually simply screwed together. The opening in the center of the door frame may then be filled in with long wooden slats screwed to the edges of the door frame. The gate door may then be slipped into the gate frame and held in place by industrial hinges.

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