Wooden gates add ambiance and security to your home. Gates should include features and designs that allow your gate to operate flawlessly into the future.
Consent and Code
Contact your local building department before planning to ensure that the location and design of the gate complies with code, or if consent is needed in your area.
Wooden driveway gates are heavy. Adequate support is one of the most important aspects for longevity and durability. Six-by-six posts are typically required, but four-by-four posts bolted together will also suffice.
Plant the Posts
Dig a hole at least 18-inches square, and 36 inches deep. Pour 6-inches of gravel into the hole.
Set the post and pour concrete around it.
Level and plumb the post with braces that you remove later.
Hinged or Slider
Driveways are wide, typically 10-to-15 foot or more. If your gate opening is over ten feet wide, consider building dual gates that meet in the middle.
Gates don't have to swing on hinges. If you've got the space, a sliding gate might be a better choice. This type of gate works on a track like a sliding glass door.
Hinged gates typically swing inward to your property. The best gates swing both directions -- if you have the room. Hardware is available for this type of gate.
Size it Up
The installation of hardware typically requires the gate to be at least 1-inch smaller in width than the opening, to provide at least a 1/2-inch space on both sides for hardware and clearance.
The gate should be no more than 60 inches in height, if you want to see over it. If that's not an issue, make the height even with the top of the fence. Plan for at least a 3-inch space under the gate, but no more than 6 inches. Four or five inches is best for optimum appearance.
Solid or Planked
Wind loading is an issue, if you're placing a gate in a windy location. Solid gates act like a sail, which adds resistance to the gate, and can make it hard to handle. Planked gates with spaces allow wind to pass through. Solid designs absorb water and can become heavy. Planked designs are lighter.
Build the gate using two-by-four studs, and one-by-four planks. There are options for these materials.
- Yellowish tint
- Mid-range cost
- Rough texture
- Premium quality
- Reddish tint
- Smoother than cedar
- Readily available
- Requires more maintenance than redwood or cedar
- Can come into contact with the ground
- Very affordable
- Presents health concerns
Ledge and Brace
Ledge and brace is one of the oldest gate designs, because it's sturdy, attractive and affordable. The familiar Z shape is found on barn doors, exclusive fences, and upscale garage doors, among other things. The diagonal brace is the key to its strength.
Cut two two-by-fours the length of the gate, and two to the height.
Lay them flat, with the long pieces between the short ones.
Countersink holes in the short pieces. Screw the frame together with 3-inch screws.
Measure across the frame diagonally and make adjustments as needed to square the frames.
Cut a diagonal brace that fits from corner to corner.
Fasten the diagonal brace to the frame with 2 1/2-inch screws.
Flip the frame over. Measure and cut enough vertical, 1-by-4 planks, following your design, to complete the gate.
Space the planks as needed per design, and screw them to the frame using 2-inch screws.
For a lighter-duty gate, build the frame with two-by-fours laying on their side, and skip the diagonal brace. Measure and cut additional two-by-fours to fit between the horizontal members. Screw them to the inside of the frame at the top and bottom.