How to Build and Install a Gate
*Affiliate links are included in this post. See my disclosure policy. If you’ve been following Charming Imperfections this spring you’ll know we tackled one of our largest home improvement projects yet: fencing in our backyard. It was quite the process as we went through the planning, building it to be straight, finding a helpful crew, and, finally, installing the gates. When I went to purchase the materials I foolishly asked the man to include three gates in the total bill. He looked at me and blinked and informed me that people usually make their own gates and that they don’t really carry them. I had no idea, but was not disappointed to learn of another project.
This is a simple DIY if you buy the pre-made fence panels as we had. I’m going to give you a quick summary of each step as I felt the more difficult part was buying the hardware, which I’ll explain more in depth. So, keep reading to learn how to build and install a gate!
What you will need…
- Fence Panel
- Hinges* – For the size of gate you will probably be installing for your backyard, a 4 inch hinge is adequate. You will need 2 for every gate, so if you are making a double swing gate, buy four hinges (or two sets). Black coated will last the longest and look classy.
- Latch*– Again, buy a black coated latch. There are more complex types of latches, we went with a fairly simple one.
- Cane Bolt* – This is a part that is necessary for double wide gates. This will secure one of the gates so they have something to close against. Measure the distance from your gate to the ground to find the size you need. We bought an 18” bolt. Black coated.
- Handles* – Not something you have to have, but they look nice.
- Deck screws (gold coated)
How to Assemble
Measure the space where the gate will go then cut a fence panel to match that size. Or, if you are making double wide gates, measure, divide that in half, and cut accordingly.
Add additional support with a diagonal 2x4. Hold the 2x4 into the place you plan to put it and mark with a pencil to know where to cut (this is much easier than figuring out the angles with a square). Make your cuts and screw in the support with 2 ½ inch screws. For a smaller gate, make only one diagonal, but an “X” shape better suites a larger gate.
For the “X” shaped supports, cut one 2x4 as you would. Then next will have to be marked and cut into two smaller pieces so it doesn’t stick out.
Install your hardware. It helps to have a second person helping to hang the gate on the hinges. While the gate is still on the ground, screw the “pointy” side of the hinge onto it on the top and bottom rail of the gate. Then have one person support the gate while the other screws the rest into the standing fence.
I realize that in this picture only half of the screws are in and part of the hinge is sticking out. We went back and fixed that, I just didn't get the pictures.
It is best to install the latch following the directions given. I wasn’t there for this part, so I can’t give you any tips other than that.
For the cane bolt, mark the correct height on the gate (it should not hang below the bottom of the gate when in the “up” position. Make note of where the back plates will be attached and pre drill holes for those. Fasten them onto the gate. Next you will have to dig a small hole for the bolt to fall into the ground for the best stability. About 4”-8” deep is correct. You may need to place a small bit of pipe or PVC in the hole to keep it clear.
And, that is how you build and install a picket fence gate.
It’s a rather simple DIY project that can be done within an hour, especially if you use pre-assembled panels.
Remember, you cut the panel, add the diagonal supports, install the hinges, latch, and can bolt and you’ve got yourself a fancy little gate. It might not make too much of a statement, but it’s what your guests and friends will pass through to enter your yard for games, food, fun, and great times.