Gates are used to block of the entrance of a fenced area. Instead of leaving a walk-through open, you can install a gate, making a section of the fence mobile. This makes it convenient to get into and out of the fenced area without creating unlimited access. In many cases the gate is installed the same time the fence is erected, but this is not always the case. You can decide to add a gate later on if there is an opening or remove a portion of the fence and replace it with a mobile opening.
A gate is similar to a door. It hangs on hinges and opens and closes. Building a gate is easy, as long as you are able to measure the gate correctly and build it out of a material that matches the fence. When shopping for your lumber, choose pieces that are weather resistant, so the materials can stand up to their exposure to the elements. Create a basic design for your gate in advance and determine the measurements. This way you can have the lumber cut at the store and bring it home in the size you need for the gate.
If you already have an existing fence there is no need to build posts and insert them into the ground. Post sizes are typically equal to the fence posts to keep everything uniform. However, if you have an existing fence, you will simply attach the gate at an opening between two existing posts. Double-check the posts before you begin working to make sure they are sturdy and need no reinforcement.
Hinges for the Gate
In addition to the lumber needed for the gate, you will also need hinges. The heavier the wood and the larger the fence and gate, the bigger the hinges should be. Hinges should also be rust resistant and match any of the other hardware on the fence.
Constructing the Gate
To make the actual gate, lay the cut boards parallel to one another. The boards should equal approximately the size of the opening in the fence, with at least an inch on either side for opening and closing. With the boards flat on the ground, place a single board diagonally across the parallel boards, or place two boards horizontally across the top and bottom of the parallel boards. The single diagonal or two horizontal boards will stabilize and connect the parallel boards. Using a nail gun, place two nails on the stabilizing board(s) for each parallel board. For instance, if your gate is the width of six parallel boards, you will be nailing at least 12 nails into the stabilizing board. If the gate does not feel sturdy after nailing, you can add additional nails.
Next, you will need to hang the gate. This is much easier done as a two-person job. Line the gate up with the fence and mark where the hinges should be installed. You can install the hinges to the gate or the fence first, but most people install them on the gate. This way you are able to line up the marks on the fence with the hinges installed on the gate. Your helper can hold the gate level while you connect the hinges.
Once the gate is installed, test it to make sure it opens and closes with ease. If necessary, paint the gate to coordinate with the rest of the fence.