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How to Build a Gate

A wood picket gate is a beautiful addition to any yard.

More in Outdoors

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Clear Space for the Gate

Start by clearing a spot for the gate. Clear the gate area of plants. You don’t have to tie the gate into fencing; it can sit between two shrubs or decorative garden urns. Determine the width of the gate by measuring the distance between the posts and subtracting clearance needed for hinges and latch. Thirty-six to 48 inches is the standard width. Leave at least 3 inches of clearance below.

To anchor the gate, sink tall posts and brace them with a header while the concrete sets. Cut a template from heavy cardboard or plywood to help size the gate.

Step 3: Build the Gate on the Template

You can build the gate flat on top of the template. Use only redwood or treated lumber for the posts, and stain or paint all lumber before assembling and installing the gate. Make a rectangular frame of 2x4s with a diagonal cross brace. Attach the two outer pickets first and use a spacer to keep things even. Use a carpenter’s square to check the corners for square. Then cut and install a diagonal cross-brace.

Step 4: Install the Hinges and Latch

Trim the tops of the posts to 6’6". Measure the distance between the outer edges of the posts and cut a 2x4 brace to fit. Attach the brace to the top of the posts. Mount hinges to one post and install the latch to the other. To keep the gate from sagging, design and build a decorative header.

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