Gates are essential parts of any fence, and having a gate that never stays
shut, slips out of alignment or sags down and drags along the ground can be
extremely frustrating. Good gate hardware prevents these problems, and it can
make your gates and fence look good to boot. Latches, handles, bolts, pulls
and more are needed for proper gate operation, and making sure you have all
the pieces correctly installed in the right place is essential. Installing
gate hardware is a simple job for an experienced do-it-yourselfer, and even
novice home-improvers should be able to tackle the task. Use the following
questions to focus your search for the right parts:
What types of gate hardware will you need?
How do the different types function?
What tools will you need for installation?
What materials can gate hardware be made of?
What special features would you like to have?
Types of Hardware, Sagging and Installation Considerations
Gate hardware serves two primary purposes, to provide functionality or serve
as a decorative adornment. Some parts, such as ornamental spring T-hinges,
combine the two and manage to look great while performing a necessary task. In
addition to opening and closing, gate hardware can also be used to fix and
prevent sagging. Installing your new hardware can be done with tools that you
probably already have in your toolbox, so most upgrades and installations are
quick and simple.
Types of Hardware: The primary types of hardware you’ll need for your
gate are latches, hinges, handles, bolts, rods and strikes. Sliding gates will
require wheels, and maintaining them is slightly more time consuming than
working with swinging gates. Latches may be self-closing and can often be
installed on both the left and right side of a gate. Some allow you to insert
a padlock for added security. Hinges can also be installed on either side and
may include a spring that automatically closes the gate. Handles, or pulls,
range from simple to elaborate and ornate. Bolts and rods are used to secure
doors in place and, in many cases, may be used with doors that swing both
inward and outward. Strikes are available in a few different varieties. Gate
hardware is made from a range of materials, including stainless steel, wrought
iron, aluminum, bronze, black iron, copper, brass and more. The chart below
details the different types of gate hardware that are available.
Bolts and Rods
Secure gate when closed to prevent it from opening.
Used to pull gate open.
Connect to post and allow door to swing.
Keep gate closed when not in use.
The point where the latch strikes the gate post.
Offset latch with box
Rim and mortise box
Straight latch with flat strike
Sagging: You may not notice it initially, but many gates can start to
sag over time. If you’re not wary, you may find yourself reaching for the
handle, expecting the gate to swing open smoothly like it usually does, and
instead end up engaging in a tug-o-war as the bottom of the gate drags and
digs into the ground beneath it. While it’s best to prevent this damage before
it begins, sagging doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to install a new gate.
An anti-sag kit is a preventative measure and cure rolled into one. Anti-sag
devices consist of two brackets mounted at diagonal points across a gate and
connected by a cable. Look for a kit that contains zinc-plated parts to
prevent rust. Toe blocks are another method that can be used to prevent
Anti-sag kits come with cable, mounting brackets, turnbuckle and screws
Place blocks underneath the gate to prop it up while you install your anti-sag
Open and close the gate a few times immediately after installation to make
sure it’s working smoothly
Toe blocks are small wooden blocks that are secured to the ground beneath the
unhinged end of the gate to prevent the gate from sagging
Installation Considerations: Installing gate hardware is a pretty
straightforward task that requires only a few simple tools. In most cases, you
should be able to get the job done with a hacksaw, clamp, cordless drill,
wrench, pliers, screwdriver and a few other odds and ends. Make sure you
install hardware that increases safety, such as an automatic spring or latch
that accepts a padlock, if you’re working on a gate that leads to a pool.
If you have a wooden gate and the wood is too rotten to drill into, it’s time
to install a new gate
You’ll need a drill, wood blocks, screwdriver and adjustable wrench to install
an anti-sag kit
Make sure hinges allow the door to swing smoothly and quietly once they’re
Rust-Resistant Finish: Depending upon what type of climate you live in,
your gate may be subjected to all sorts of weather, including rain, sleet,
snow and ice. A rusty hinge can make it tough for a gate to swing open, and no
one wants bits of rust flaking off in their hand when they grab the handle.
Choose gate hardware that features a rust-resistant finish to protect it from
the elements. Fade-resistant finishes are available as well and are
particularly desirable on ornamental pieces.
Child-Resistant Latch: If you have small children, look for a latch
that’s designed to be tricky for little fingers to open. This is especially
important if the gate opens into a pool area. Another option is to add a
second latch high up on the gate out of the reach of young children. Even if
they manage to get the lower latch open, they won’t be able to reach up high
enough to get to the other one.
Return Spring: Return springs close doors automatically, saving you
from having to remember to do it every time. Many of them feature adjustable