How To Build Long-Lasting Gates

Building a solid, smooth-swinging gate isn’t complicated. But if you understand the basics, your gates will last even longer without sagging. Take a quick quiz to help you learn a few tricks for building a great gate.

  • gate
    A well-built gate will last for years and can make a fence more attractive.
    Photo by Istockphoto/

  • gate

Whether you're building a gate for a wooden privacy fence or building a swinging gate for livestock fencing, there are some basic, but important, things to remember when you're designing and building a gate. Follow these tips to make your gate last longer and reduce maintenance.

Cross Brace Correctly

We all have a mental image of a gate (or a barn door) in our minds, and most often that image involves a brace that makes a Z-shaped pattern in the gate. Which direction should that brace go? (You didn't know there was going to be a quiz, did you?) The question is this: Should the brace

A. start toward the top of the side nearest the hinges and slope down toward the side with the latch, or

B. start at the bottom of the side nearest the hinges and slope up toward the top of the side with the latch?

If you answered 'B,' you're right! The reason is that the weight of the gate compresses the brace. If you use this method, your gate is much less likely to sag than if gravity is pulling the brace and the hardware holding it together. The brace material will only compress so much before it reaches its limit, but it will stretch out much further.

Stop Sagging: Cable and Turnbuckle

Quiz question #2: When adding steel cable (or wire) to support a gate, does it follow the cross brace line or does it cross it to make an 'X'?

9/13/2013 3:01:10 PM

Every carpenter I have spoken to says the brace should go from the bottom of the gate door, on the hinge side up to the opposite corner of the door just the reverse of what is written in this article.

7/2/2013 3:18:56 PM


I think the best option is to built alumnium powder coated gate for long lasting and weather durability.

Even such a small gate can be automated. On the Gold Coast the best is to look for automatic gates at Electronic-mechanic service gates and garage doors. They supply quality gate motors made in Italy.

Gale Green
5/28/2010 10:14:40 PM

Hi, good info, all. I need help: I need to build a gate that is horizontal to the downslope of land. I can't figure out how to do it: dig down into the dirt on one end, or build up the other side with rocks. . .to make a level area for the bottom of the gate. It is a gate into a chicken pen, and no, it won't work to put it elsewhere. It doesn't need to be heavy, a wood frame with crossbar, covered with 1" chicken wire should do it. Any help appreciated!! Gale

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