Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How to Build Gates - and how not to Build Gates.

Where on earth do you learn how to build wood gates properly?

I don't even recall reading decent instructions in a book, however our DIY plans include good step by step information.

Of all the tasks that a fence builder needs to know this is the Achilles heel of the trade. I see more sagging gates with the hardware inoperable in my travels than any other flaw in wood fences.

Wooden gates require a brace and braces work in compression (see photo above). I see a million braces (right idea), with the braces backwards. The braces must run from the swing side of the gate down to the hinge. This builder got the braces right--however he built the gates too large and the gates are inoperable.

There are brackets--that don't work particularly well and many react with the chemicals in ACQ Rated pressure treated materials.

When a wood gate is not hung off a wall you will need a headpiece to prevent the weight of the gate from bending the post and causing the hardware not to work--and the gate rubbing on the other post.

There is a maximum size for gates that don't have steel reinforcement--that is advanced information that we share with our Builder Group.

These gates are all on the same block (cheap copies of a fence I designed this summer).

This one has no headpiece--no brace--and it is built too large for the opening that doesn't seem to be the same size top and bottom. This gate incorporates nearly every mistake in the book.

The garbage beside it is a nice touch.

There should also be a good space beneath the gate so that it doesn't get obstructed. There are many rules for yards with pools to do with gate operation direction, self closing hardware and climb ability so consult with your local building department before deciding on a fence style.

Here's a nice looking gate --However it won't last due to;

No head piece.

Diagonal bracing is insufficient--little blocks in the corners won't do it.

The frame seems to be hanging on screws. Screwing through the long face of a 2x4 doesn't work very well--the wood shrinks, play develops and the gate begins to come apart.

I don't think there is an inch of space to allow this gate to swing.

If I were the client I would complain about the concrete all over the posts.

The gate is also too close to the ground... and will pinch when frost or clay heave lifts the ground.

The above examples illustrate why wood fencing is a commodity. Poorly trained contractors running around cobbling things together the best they can, not knowing what crown is, not having the know-how or skill to build something properly can not ask for proper pay.

If you wonder why licensed contractors charge a little more--it's because they simply do better work, that lasts longer and ages more gracefully... oh, and our gates work properly.

Below is a set of wood gates built by Tony Fredericks - WoodCrafters in Toronto, Ontario.

The braces are on the interior for a clean look, there is clearance for swing and they work well. The headpiece carries the weight of the gates. 10/10


1 comment:

Unknown said...

There is an 8" gap between the bottom of the gate at the side of our house and the deck .This gives the local cats easy access to our deck and bird feeding area . Short of replaging the gate ,is there anything we can attach to the bottom that would act as a barrier / I thought I had seen a stiff bristle brush strip that could be nailed on but cannot locate it now . Any other suggestions? Thank you for your time.