How to install a garden gate


I’ve written articles on how to install a garden fence a well as more specifically, how to install a metal side gate but I feel it’s time to finally write an article explaining how to install a timber garden gate – Commonly known as a sidegate. Here we will go over the tools and materials needed to install your new side gate as well as try to cover every issue you might come across and how to overcome them. For such a simple post, it’s going to be a long read!

If you have a broken garden gate then can it be repaired?

If you already have a garden gate which you believe to be broken then it’s easy to think that you need a new one, but this isn’t always the case! I’ve had many calls over the years asking to replace a broken side gate only to discover upon arrival that actually it can be repaired fairly easily.

Most wooden side gates are nothing more than a few pieces of timber rails screwed together with slats nailed onto the front. If you have a garden gate that is prone to being slammed, by way of being left open or maybe the children are constantly in and out then it’s easy to see why your slats may get damaged or become loose. Before you know it your gate will have gaps everywhere and just look awful. But providing that the frame to your gate is not rotten then all you need to do is nail some new slats onto your gate and it will be good as new!

Like everything wooden, garden gates will swell in the wetter colder months so you will likely end up with a gate that struggles to open and shut. It may seem obvious but your gate is perfectly fine and needs nothing more than planing to shave the width of the gate down. Another common issue that you might encounter from a swollen side gate is misaligned locks in which case all you need to do is realign them.

To be honest, unless the frame to your garden gate is rotten then in almost all cases it can be repaired!

Which tools do I need to install a new side gate?

Below I’ve written a list of tools needed to install your new gate along with some links to the Amazon store where you can receive your new tools from as early as the very next day! The tools needed to install your new garden gate include;

  • Screwdriver drill bits for tightening your screws
  • A circular saw for cutting your gate down to size if needed
  • A tape measure to measure the height of your gate posts from the ground
  • A hand saw for cutting your gate posts if needed
  • A hacksaw for cutting your gate latch spindle to size if needed
  • A spirit level set for making sure your gate posts are level
  • Masonry drill bits for drilling holes through concrete (If fixing your posts to a wall)
  • Concrete bolts (if fixing your posts to a wall)
  • A socket set for tightening your concrete bolts (if fixing your posts to a wall)
  • Post hole diggers (if concreting your posts into the ground)

Below are some Amazon links to help get you started. As an Amazom affiliate partner we receive a small commission when an item is purchased via a link on this website.

A drill for screwing the hinges, gate locks and drilling the hole for the handle spindles

Don’t forget your screwdriver bit set for your drill!

Just as important as your screwdriver bit set, don’t forget your spade bit set for your gate handle spindle

Never trust your eye – Always use a spirit level for those straight and level posts

If the gate needs to fill a gap of an unusual size then you may need to cut your gate down to size. For this I would recommend a circular saw to help get that nice straight cut

For your gate posts I would recommend using nothing but a hand saw

If your gate posts are being concreted into the ground as opposed to a brick wall then you will certainly need post hole diggers

If you will be fixing your gate posts to a brick wall or concrete posts then concrete bolts are a must

You can’t drill holes for your concrete bolts without masonry drill bits…

Finally, don’t forget your tape measure for those cuts if needed, as well as measuring which size garden gate you need

Which materials do I need to install a new garden gate?

Here is my full list of materials needed to install your new gate. Be aware however that depending on your gate’s needs, the materials needed will vary from garden to garden so I have tried to explain what they will be used for and if they are needed at all. Hopefully, after you have read my full guide on how to install a new side gate, you will have a better understanding of what’s needed.

Let’s start with the obvious, a garden gate!

Next your going to need some gate hinges, latch and locks. Luckily you can purchase gate kits which includes all of these items!

If you’re closing a gap from scratch then you will likely need some timber posts to attach your gate to

You will likely need some 4×2 timber if you need to close the gap to make your gate fit, or if you are attaching your garden gate to an existing concrete fence post or wall. I’ll talk about this more below.

Oh and I almost forgot! Don’t forget your postcrete for if you are concreting your posts into the ground

Finally, Let’s get started on my full guide to installing a new garden gate and assess the area that your gate will be installed as well as measure which size gate is needed

If you already have an existing sidegate that simply needs replacing then you are one of the lucky ones as all you need to do is check the condition of the timber to both sides of your gate for any damage or rot before measuring the width and height of your existing gate.

In a worst case situation, you will need to replace the timber as well as your gate but the good news is that all you will need to do is measure everything that’s already in place. If fence posts have been used then it’s likely to be 4×4 or 3×3 inch posts. If your gate is bolted to a brick wall or concrete fence post then it’s likely that 4×2 inch timber has been used to bolt onto the concrete and attach your hinges or locks etc..

If however you have an empty gap to fill with a gate then you will have a little more maths to do. The first thing to remember is that you will need timber on both sides of your gate so that you can screw your hinges into place as well as your locks etc..  I always try and use a 4×4 inch post for the hinges as a thick post will often last longer than the gate and has the strength needed to hold the weight of a gate too.

As an example, let’s say that you have a gap to fill of 1100mm. Personally I would use 2 4×4 inch posts (100mm) – One for each side of the gate and purchase a gate with a width of 900mm to fill the remaining gap. If the area to fill was 1050mm, then I would use 1 4×4 inch post (100mm), 1 4×2 inch piece of timber (50mm) and a 900mm width gate to fill the rest of the gap.

I wouldn’t recommend using anything less than a width of 2 inches (50mm) as you will struggle to fit hinges or gate latch attachments onto the timber.

How to install your new gate posts

For such a simple heading, this answer can be quite complex. Let me start by saying that if your gate posts are being installed into the ground then yes fence or gate posts must be used. If you will be installing your new sidegate onto a brick wall or concrete fence post then you may get away with bolting 4×2 inch timber. I’ll explain in more detail below.

How to install your gate posts into the ground

Most gates are approximately 1800mm tall so I would recommend purchasing 2400mm (8 feet) fence posts as this will allow you to have them approximately 600mm into the ground. All you need to do is dig a hole by way of post hole diggers until you measure approximately 600mm deep. I usually dig a little bit more than I need to as raising the gate post is much easier than having to keep going back to dig some more.

Once your first hole is ready, simply place the post inside and measure the length from the ground up. In this example I would be looking to reach 1800mm but the height of your post will vary depending on the height of gate being used and the surrounding fence if there is one.

Once you are happy with the height of your post, using the spirit level, have someone hold it in place whilst you pour postcrete into the ground. It doesn’t matter if the post isn’t perfect at this point as you can move the post just enough from side to side until level before compacted the postmix to help keep it in place.

If the hole dug was too deep then now is the time to slowly raise it until you reach your desired height. Once the post is level and at the desired height, all you need to do is pour water into the ground and leave it to set for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to use lots of water!

When it comes time to digging the hole for the next gate post, all you need to so is measure the width of your gate from the newly set post and start digging, using the same principals as before, up until it’s time to pour the postcrete in.

Keeping in mind that once the postcrete is in (but not watered) the gate post won’t be able to move freely from side to side, but will be able to raise to adjust the height. This is why it’s important to have another person hold the post steady and level whilst you repeatedly measure the width between fence posts before pouring the concrete.

Another important factor here is to remember to leave extra space between the gate and the posts to avoid rubbing of the gate once installed. If I had a 900mm wide gate then I would typically set the posts at a width of 910-915mm apart. This will allow room for swelling in the Winter and don’t worry if the gate ends up with too large a gap as you can always hide this with a gate stopper.

Once you are happy with the distance between the 2 level gate posts then it’s time to pour the postcrete and set.

How to install your timber gate posts onto a brick wall

If you are going to be fixing your garden gate posts to a brick wall then the good news is that you don’t need to dig any post holes for them! All you need to do is follow the below steps.

  1. Depending on the height of your new sidegate – Measure and cut your gate post to your desired height. In the image above the gate measured 1760mm, so I cut the post to a height of 1800mm which allows room for the gate to be elevated from the ground.
  2. Using a spade bit for your drill, cut 2-3 shallow holes into your post. The hole only needs to be deep enough to cover the head of your concrete or masonry bolts, and wide enough to be able to fit a socket head inside the hole for when you tighten your concrete bolts.
  3. Depending on the size bolts you have opted for, drill a single hole through the centre of your shallow holes and go through to the other side. I usually drill the hole slightly smaller than the bolt thread. For example, if I were using concrete bolts with a thread width of 10mm then I would drill holes of 8mm as this will give the thread something to bit through as you tighten them.
  4. Place the post against your wall and measure the height from the ground up to make sure that it’s correct. Then, have a friend hold the post tight against the wall whilst keeping it level – This is when you will want to use a masonry drill bit to go through the pre-drilled holes in your gate post and into the brick wall behind. I would recommend just drilling one hole for now.
  5. Finally it’s time to insert your masonry bolts and tighten it up with a socket whilst putting pressure onto the bolt. Providing that the hole is slightly smaller than the bolt thread then it should bite its way through the timber post and brick wall nicely. Tighten the concrete bolt just enough to hold the post in place.
  6. Now it’s time to check your level again making sure that your gate post is straight. If it’s not then don’t worry – as long as your bolt isn’t fully tightened then simply push the bottom of the post sideways until it’s level. Once ready, it’s time to drill the final hole(s) for the remaining 1 or 2 bolts.
  7. Tighten all of your masonry bolts until your new gate post feels secure against the wall.

Things to remember when installing your gate posts

As with all of my articles, there is a good chance that I have missed something so I’ve included a few dos and don’ts to help keep you covered!

  • No one wants a garden gate that sits higher than their posts! So always remember to add 1-2 inches when working out the height of your gate posts as this will allow room to keep your gate elevated from the ground. If you forget this step then the next best thing to do would be to cut the height of your gate by 1-2 inches to allow for the ground clearance below.
  • If your sidegate will be sitting on an un-level ground then measure the required height of post from the highest point. If you measure from the lowest point then you may run out of ground clearance once your gate is installed.
  • Whether you are installing your gate post into the ground or fixing it to the wall, once your first post is fixed I would recommend getting the correct height of the next one by using a long spirit level. This way you will have perfectly level gate posts. If your ground is uneven then you will easily end up with one post higher than the other if measuring from the ground up for both posts.
  • If your installing your gate posts into the ground then always use 3×3 or preferably 4×4 fence posts. If your installing your gate against a brick wall or other concrete structure then there is a good chance that space is limited and simply using 2 posts is too much. Try use 4×2 timber instead of fence posts when fixing to a wall as this will suffice providing that your gate hinges aren’t too large. You can also screw 4×2 timber to gate posts when trying to reduce the width of the gap where the gate will be going. If you are needing to screw some timber to an already fixed gate post then you can use something thinner like 4×1.

How to fix your new garden gate to your gate posts

With hinges ofcourse! OK it’s not that simple. But with the help of a friend it can be and since everyone has their own way of doing things then I’m going to tell you my favourite way of fixing your garden gate and hinges to your fence post.

  1. Stand on the inside of the gate with your pencil, hinges, screws and drill to hand.
  2. Have your friend lift the gate into position and against the gate post where the hinges will be. If it helps try using something to rest the gate onto to help keep it in position.
  3. Place your top hinge into position, where level against the top gate frame rail and draw around the part of the hinge that screws to the post.
  4. If your happy with your friend’s help so far then let them know that they can put the gate to one side for now.
  5. Put the hinge into the L position and wrap it around the gate post, in line with your pencil mark and keep it snug against the post. Now simply screw the hinge to the post.
  6. Have your friend place the sidegate back into position, against the hinged post, whilst you screw the other end of the hinge to the gate. Now your gate will hold it’s own weight, against the post.
  7. Put the lower hinge into the L position and simply wedge it between the gate and the post – The gate will keep it flush against the post whilst you screw the hinge to the post.
  8. You may be wondering now, how on earth do you bring the hinge back round to the inside of the gate? But don’t worry, there is method to my madness and now, I want you to unscrew the lower hinge and pull it away from the gate post .
  9. Now with the hinge on the correct side of the gate, using the screw holes you just made, screw the hinge back onto the post before screwing the hinges to the gate. Now your should be left with a swinging garden gate!

How to install your new gate latch

With most gate latches you will receive 2 handles, 1 for each side of the gate and the spindle for in-between aswell as the gate catch. Installing a gate latch may look complicated but providing you have the correct tools then it doesn’t need to be. Just follow the below steps.

  1. Close the gate whilst you have a friend keeping pressure on it from the outside, helping to keep the gate in line with the post.
  2. The handle with the latch connected goes on the inside. Hold it against the middle frame rail making sure that the latch piece reaches over to the post by at least 1 inch but also allowing enough room on the gate to install the middle latch piece which stops the gate latch from falling below the gate catch when opened. Once in place, use a pencil to mark around the handle piece.
  3. Use a spade bit to drill a hole large enough for the spindle through the centre of the marked area. Don’t use too small a spade bit to avoid the spindle from rubbing, but don’t go too large that it will be on show when your gate handle is installed. 18mm should be a fair size. Don’t drill it all the way through, just drill the hole enough until the point starts to come through the other side. When this happens, move to the other side of the gate and repeat. This will give you a nice finish.
  4. Hold the gate latch in place, making sure that it’s in the centre of the hole to reduce the risk of the spindle from rubbing when turning the handle. This is easily done by having a friend look through the hole on the opposite side of the gate whilst you screw it in place.
  5. Now insert the spindle from the otherside and into your newly fixed gate handle – Once done temporarily place the other gate handle onto the spindle to see if it reaches the gate once connected. If it does then all you need to do is make sure that it’s handle is facing the same way as the opposite side and that the latch is facing 90° to the gate post before screwing it into place. If the spindle is too long then you will need to cut it down to size first. This can be done with as little as a hack saw although I tend to use my 4.5 inch grinder with a metal cutting disc.
  6. Once your handle is installed, it’s time to fix your gate catch onto the post. Temporarily place the gate catch behind the gate latch and hold it in place where the gate latch is at 90° and screw the catch into place.
  7. The last thing left to do is screw the centre piece into place which stops the handle latch from falling below the catch whilst the gate is open. Simply close the gate with the latch on the catch and hold the centre piece in place whilst you screw it on. Make sure that the bottom of the centre piece is touching the bottom of the gate latch so that it can only lift when the handle is in the open position, but never drop below the catch level.

Finally it’s time to add the finishing touches to your newly installed garden gate

Wow! I can’t believe how long it’s taken to reach the end of my article on what I thought was going to be an easy post – I’m starting to worry about how much I waffled on! At least we are here now none the less – It’s finally time to add the finishing touches.

If you have a gate lock to install, usually in the form of a slide bar then now is the time to fix it into place. Simply place the main piece onto the edge of the top frame rail and screw it into place. Then with the gate shut, slide it into the lock position – This way all you need to do is hold the end piece over the slider bar making sure that there is an even gap either side to avoid rubbing and screw it into place.

Another important thing to do is install a gate stop. All you need is a piece of batton which you can cut to the length of the post and screw it into place along the edge of the closed gate. This way if the gate is left open snd slams shut, this gate stop will take most of the impact and ensure a longer gate life. Not only this but if you have a large or uneven gap between the gate and the post then this will be sure to cover any imperfections!

I will be adding more pictures soon to help explain this guide of how to install a garden gate yourself but until then, if you have any questions then please do comment below as I am always keen to help!

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