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Installing a gate in a wood fence

Install / August 18, 2018

Gate posts need to be stronger than the rest of the fence posts.Gate posts need to be stronger than the rest of the fence posts.

The gate is usually the last part of a fence to go up, and proper installation depends on strong, straight gate posts; many gate malfunctions occur because the posts holding them start to sag. The gate usually isn't difficult to construct, and its design is usually the same as the rest of the fence. It needs space on either side to ensure that it will continue to swing freely and close properly when the fence gets wet and the wood expands. You should also provide a gap between the bottom of the gate and the highest point over which it swings.

Measure the gate opening with a tape measure and construct the gate so that it is 1/2-inch narrower than the opening. If the gate is already constructed, measure the width and trim it with a circular saw, if necessary.

Decide which way you want the gate to swing. Lay it on a flat surface and set the hinges on the front of the gate, placing one about 1 foot from the top and the other the same distance from the bottom. Mark the positions of the screws, remove the hinges and drill a pilot hole on each mark with a 1/8-inch drill bit. Set the hinges back in place and screw them to the gate with the screws supplied with the hinges.

Support the gate on blocks of wood or bricks in the gate opening so that it is far enough above the ground to swing freely. Line up the hinge-side of the gate with the hinge post and put 1/4-inch cardboard spacers between the gate and the post. Hold the gate in position while you mark the screw holes for the hinges. Drill a pilot hole for each screw, and then screw the hinges to the post.

Screw the latch to the front of the gate approximately 36 to 40 inches above the ground. Remove the blocks holding the gate and close it. Extend the latch to intersect the latch post, and then screw the catch to the post.

Open the gate to make sure it swings freely, and then close it and try the latch.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Gate hinges
  • Drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • No. 2 Phillips bit
  • Gate latch


  • Some latches extend through the gate so that you can operate them from either side. If you have this kind of latch, you need to drill a hole for it according to the instructions supplied with it.
  • The hinge post is more likely to sag if the gate is heavy and wide. If the opening is wider than 3 feet, it's preferable to install a two-gate system rather than a single gate.

Source: homeguides.sfgate.com