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Repairing Fence Gates
How to Repair a Wooden FenceOften a part of the fence that develops problems is the gate. A gate that sees a lot of use can eventually sag, bind, drag or pull away from the support post, jamb against the latch post or rub against the ground. These things can also pull the hinge post out of alignment, causing it to separate from the fence frame. Most of the problems to do with gates are problems with the hardware but a gate that is out of square is also a major problem. Check for this problem first, for as long as the gate is out of square all other fixes are a waste of time.

A gate will sag when its frame becomes distorted and is no longer square.

Step 1: One quick way to square up a gate is to drive a screw eye into the upper corner of the gate on the hinge side and another into the lower corner on the gate side. These screw eyes need to be into solid wood so come away from the end of the wood a couple inches when you put them in.

Step 2: Run a wire and a heavy-duty turnbuckle from one screw eye to the other, and tighten the turnbuckle until the gate frame is square.

Another solution:

Step 1: Instead of the wire fix you could install a 2×4 brace from the bottom hinge corner of the gate to the top catch corner. All gates should be made with a brace like this though many are not.

Step 2: Make sure before you install this new 2×4 you prop the gate up so that it is square.

Step 3: Now take the 2×4 lay it against the gate and mark the corners so it fits into the corner of the gate then cut it. Nail it into position with 2” galvanized nails. This is a more permanent solution.

Next, check its hinges.

How to Repair a Wooden FenceStep 1: The first thing you should do is check the hinges to see if they are bent or damaged. If they are, replace them with a heavier type of hinge.

Step 2: If the hinge screws are pulling loose, remove them and plug the holes a small piece of wood. Then drill new holes and install longer screws or bigger screws or carriage bolts. All hardware used outside should be galvanized steel and meant for exterior use.

Step 3: With a gate that is sagging only slightly, you may be able to straighten it up by shimming under the bottom hinge or moving it slightly to raise the catch side. Remove the screws from the post side of the bottom hinge, and then prop the gate up. Insert a thin piece of cedar shake to fit behind the hinge then reattach the hinge by driving longer screws through the shim.

Gates that bind against the latch post: The gate will bind against the latch post if it is out of alignment or if the frame absorbs moisture and swells or if one of the gate post moves slightly. To correct this problem you may need to make the gate a little smaller.

Step 1: First check to see if you can adjust the hinges enough to allow the gate to work properly. This is the easiest solution.

Step 2: If this is not possible remove the gate from its hinges and plane some wood from the latch side. Seal this edge with some wood preservative before re-hanging the gate.

Step 3: If the amount that needs to be removed is more than you want to plane you may want to use a saw to cut it smaller. If you are using a saw to cut the catch side of your gate be sure to watch for nails imbedded in the wood. These are always hard on the saw. (A gate should always be made with at least ½” space on each side when it is being made to allow for ease of operation.)

How to Repair a Wooden FenceGates where the latch is no longer catching:

Step 1: Check the hardware to see that it is in good working order and if not replace it. Sometimes it just needs a little oil to make it work ok.

Step 2: If the catch is working ok, it most often is a miss-alignment problem. Usually it is easiest to remove the part of the catch that is fastened to the post. Then align it properly with the other half of the hardware and refasten it to the post. If this adjustment is very small sometimes the screws want to go back into the same holes and you end up with the same problem. If this is true, fill the old holes with a little wood then drill a new pilot hole where you want the screws to go and refasten it.

How to Repair a Wooden FenceAt this point you should have a good structural fence and a good looking fence in that it is straight and plumb except that it may look a little patchy from a mix of new and old wood. To solve this problem you may desire to stain or paint your fence to give it all a fresh new look. That though is a topic for another time. Have fun fixing your fence and saving yourself some money.

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