Pro Tips for Building a Wood Fence Gate

If you are planning to build an outdoor wood fence gate for your property, you should consider some important tips before you get started. If constructed improperly, your gate could end up sagging, breaking, and ultimately failing after a short time. Follow these 8 tips from a professional fence company on how to build a wood fence gate to avoid frustration during and after your gate construction process.



PRO TIP #1: Ensure you have the proper tools ready

Before starting any project, you should prioritize your preparation. Take the time to ensure you have everything you need before starting your wood gate building project.

  • Wood materials for the frame and body of the gate
  • Hardware (latch, hinges, handles, decorative aspects, etc.)
  • Power saw
  • Power drill with drill bits
  • Screws
  • Post hole digger
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Digging Bar
  • Nail Gun (optional)


PRO TIP #2: Don’t skimp on hardware

Hardware plays an integral role in the function and overall success of your gate. Wood gates can be quite heavy. Hardware that is too small or of poor quality will not be able to properly hold weight. Any gate with insufficient hardware will continue to sag over time, even with constant adjusting. Make sure your hardware can hold the weight of your gate. You will also want to make sure you choose quality latches that provide the look and function you desire. Some are easier to operate than others. Pick something that works for you and your gate.


PRO TIP #3: Construct a Proper Frame

In addition to the boards that run horizontally within the frame, use diagonal framing or “A” framing. The diagonal boards will improve the structure of your gate and help keep its all-important shape, helping with function and security.


PRO TIP #4: Use Cedar framing

Cedar is another key element used for professional gate building. Cedar wood is naturally less prone to warping and cracking when compared to pressure treated lumber. It is also a significantly lighter wood than pressure treated pine; another commonly used wood fence material. Since gates need to hold their shape in order to function properly, cedar is the ideal candidate for the job. A gate that is misaligned may not latch, leaving you to need to make adjustments or find some other way to keep your gate functional and secure.

This fence and gate are made of pressure treated pine, but the gate frame is cedar. You can tell by the slight difference in color. . . cedar has a red tinge to it.


PRO TIPS #5: Use cedar boards (optional, but recommended)

As previously mentioned, cedar is a very lightweight variety of wood. We recommend using ALL cedar boards on your gate, even if the rest of your fence is constructed out of pine. Using cedar will ensure a longer life for your gate, less sagging and warping, and a happier you.

This entire fence is cedar, except for the posts, which are always pressure treated pine.


PRO TIP #6: Keep the gate size small

We do not recommend building a single gate leaf wider than 5’. Anything larger will probably be too much weight for the hardware. You could consider supporting it in some other way, but do not expect a 6’+ wide single gate to remain level for very long on its own.

Picket gates are the standard even on split rail and paddock fences because they function better, are lighter, and last longer than split rail/paddock gates.


PRO TIP #7: Consider the grade of the area where the gate will be installed.

If you have the option, choose a flat, level piece of ground on which to install your gate. This will make the build, installation, and function a much easier process.  If you don’t have that options, make sure you consider the grade, and which way the gate will need to swing and be able to swing.

This yard slopes upward toward the front yard, therefore the gate opens into the back yard. This gate would not be able to open outward or up into the hill.


PRO TIP #8: Perfect your gate posts (concrete, size of post)

The posts that will hold your gate need to be large enough, as straight and plum as possible, and properly secured in the ground. Posts that are too small will not successfully hold your gate for a long period of time. The recommended size for any gate post is 6”x6”. When setting the post, the depth should be 24”-30” inches in the ground. The use of dry pack concrete along with the backfill of dirt will keep your post secure in the long run while preventing rot from trapped moisture. Ensure that you tamp your dirt and concrete firmly and adequately around the post. Lastly, bracing each section next to your gate will provide stability and help prevent the post from shifting over time.


BONUS TIP: Buy Direct from Frederick Fence

We have everything you need for your DIY wood gate project from the wood and hardware to the professional sales representatives who can offer additional advice to you on your gate. Visit our BUY DIRECT page to learn more. . . and call us when you are ready to make a purchase. We can’t wait to hear from you! 301-663-4000


We have wood supplies in stock on a consistent basis for our retail customers. You can call ahead to ensure we have what you need before you come. You also have the option to special order anything else you might need that we do not stock.