Sometimes an old, sagging gate can be fixed with new hardware or by adding a sag kit. Other times, it’s best to just start over and build a new gate.
Today we’re building a gate using the EasyGate No-Sag Gate Kit, which includes four black, sturdy, metal brackets; screws and hinges which you add to your own lumber; and a gate latch. The EasyGate kit even includes a drill bit for pre-drilling holes and a driver bit for the screws.
Step 1: Measure gate opening and decide on hinge placement
Carefully measure the opening for the gate you’re going to build by measuring the distance between gate posts. The width of our opening is 35 1/4”. Now is also the time to figure out whether the hinges will be on the left or right side of the gate. Stand on the inside of the gate (the side where you’ll pull the gate open toward you) and note which side the hinges will be on. The black EasyGate brackets will show on this “pull side” of the gate. Our hinges will be on the right.
Step 2: Measure and cut top and bottom rails
We’re using cedar two-by-fours for our gate rails. Following the directions from EasyGate, we cut two pieces at 34 1/4” (one inch shorter than the gate opening). One piece will be our top rail, and the other will be our bottom rail.
Step 3: Attach brackets to top and bottom rails
Starting with the top rail turned on edge, attach one hinged bracket and one non-hinged bracket below the two-by-four rail using the provided screws. Since our hinges will be on the right, the hinged bracket was on the right as well.
Screw the two remaining brackets to the top of the bottom rail using one screw in each of the three spots where there are holes. Don’t forget to position the hinged bracket on the same side as the upper-hinged bracket.
Note: The EasyGate kit comes with a drill bit for pre-drilling your lumber. Pre-drilling is never a bad idea, but we chose not to this time because the western red cedar lumber we used was somewhat soft and the screws weren’t likely to split it. If in doubt, take extra time to pre-drill your screw holes.
Step 4: Add side rails to brackets
The length of your side rails will depend on the height of your fence. We wanted our top and bottom gate rails to line up horizontally with the fence rails on either side of the gate, so we cut two-by-fours to fit that height, and, using the holes in the brackets, screwed the vertical rails in place.
At this step, you’ll have a sturdy, four-sided framework to attach boards to.
Note: Our Step 5 and Step 6 are reversed if you compare them to the EasyGate instructions. EasyGate has you mount the gate frame to the gate posts and then complete the gate by attaching fence boards. That would work fine, but we decided to attach our fence boards first and then hang the gate. Our method means hanging a heavier, completed gate, so if you’re working alone keep that in mind.
Step 5: Attach fence boards
We knew we wanted our gate to be 5’ tall, and knew (from the old gate) that a 2” gap at the bottom was needed for the gate to swing fully open, so we cut a couple of inches off of 5’ fence boards and attached them to the gate frame. Many people use nails for this, but we used exterior screws.
Step 6: Hang gate on the hinge-side post
Next, we lifted the gate into position. A block of wood (or in our case, a brick) helps hold things at the right height while you mark where the hinges will attach to the post. The hinges can mount parallel to the gate and across the face of the post, or be placed perpendicular to the gate in the gate opening. We liked the cleaner look of the second method, so after noting the proper height of the hinges, we propped the gate into its open position, opened the hinges, and screwed them into place.
Step 7a: Choose a gate latch
The EasyGate kit doesn’t come with a gate latch, which allows you to pick the style and type that works best for you. The simplest latches are easy to install and work fine in many instances. Choose a heavy-duty version if your gate is going to be used daily. Some latches are more easily operated from the pull side of the gate than the other side, and people often run a string to the other side to make life easier. Other latches are double-sided and work equally well from either side of the gate. We chose to use one double-sided latch that includes a thumb latch on the outside.
Step 7b: Install thumb-latch gate hardware
This latch seemed to be complicated at first glance, but it was easier to install than we first thought. Holding the wide, interior bracket on the gate rail, we marked for the oblong hole, which the thumb latch will pass through. Following the latch instructions, we drilled two holes (one above the other) and then joined them together using a wood chisel. At this point, we assembled both sides of the latch mechanism, inserted the thumb latch through the hole in the gate, and marked the hole locations for the inside and outside pieces. (This is easier with two people, and it allows you to test the action before anchoring the pieces with screws.) After verifying it was going to work, we screwed the hardware onto both sides of the gate. Lastly, we mounted the post-side bracket for the latch.
Success! We have a sturdy new gate with a latch that works easily from either side of the gate. The gate looked so nice, we replaced the fence boards on either side, too. Now, our outdoor living space is ready for summer.