How to build a Z-frame gate

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How to build a Z-frame gate
The Z-frame gate is a common structure for garden gates. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The Z-frame gate, a simple, sturdy garden gate design, takes its name from its framework. The horizontal upper and lower portions of the frame are joined by a single diagonal piece of wood that prevents the gate from sagging and deforming. This structural support looks like a Z.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Lumber
  • Screws and nails
  • Hinges and latch
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Square and level
  • Gravel and concrete
  • Post hole digger
  • Shims

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Instructions

    Preparation

  1. 1

    Develop the design of your garden gate. Whether it's the entryway for your front lawn or for your garden, it should complement or match the rest of the fence. Generally, unless you have a staggered design, the horizontal support rails should line up with the rails of the fence.

  2. 2

    Purchase the wood. The type and amount of wood will vary, depending on the specific design of your Z-frame garden gate. Purchase 10 cm x 10 cm (4 x 4 inch) wood for the hinge and latch posts. Remember, you must sink these critical support pieces at least 90 cm (3 feet) into the ground, so buy wood long enough. Buy 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inch) boards for the frame of the garden gate and 2.5 cm x 5 cm (1 x 2 inch boards for the pickets. If you build your Z-frame gate to a different design, adjust your wood purchase accordingly.

  3. 3

    Select the hardware. You need a wide assortment of screws or nails, 2 or more hinges (depending on the weight of your gate) and the latch. Choose metals for the latch and hinges that complement each other and the other hardware elements of your home or garden.

  4. 4

    Dig the post holes at least 90 cm (3 feet) deep. Your hinge and latch posts must sunk into the ground at least one-third of the total height of the gate or 90 cm (3 feet), whichever is greater. Use a post hole digger to dig these holes.

  5. 5

    Sink the latch and hinge posts onto tamped gravel with a concrete collar or support stakes. Fill in the holes with densely packed earth or concrete.

    The gate

  1. 1

    Build the Z-frame gate in your garden or yard. It's the best way to ensure that everything lines up and hangs properly.

  2. 2

    Cut the horizontal supports so they barely fit within the gateway. Use heavy-duty plasterboard screws to mount them to the hinges. Use permanent screws to mount the hinges to the hinge post. Make sure these supports are perfectly level.

  3. 3

    Measure and cut the diagonal support. This is the support that gives the garden gate its name. Drill pilot holes and mount this support to the horizontal supports with long screws appropriate for the weight. Make sure the upper portion is near the latch and the lower portion is near the bottom hinge, flush with the hinge and latch mount points.

  4. 4

    Make the pickets or other vertical supports. Again, the specifics of your fence means that these designs vary widely, so refer to your specific plan. Cut all pickets in advance.

  5. 5

    Use a square or pattern to mark the places to mount the pickets. Keep your marks symmetrical and perfectly vertical, with good even spacing.

  6. 6

    Nail or screw the pickets to the gate's framework. Use at least 2 nails or screws at the top and the bottom, and at least 1 to mount the picket to the Z-frame brace.

  7. 7

    Remove the garden gate from the hinges. Cut off the excess wood from the horizontal supports. Remount the gate with more permanent, heavy-duty screws.

  8. 8

    Attach the latch with heavy-duty screws once you have the gate remounted. Be certain the gate opens and closes smoothly.

Tips and warnings

  • When you mount your Z-frame garden gate, there's a good chance that it won't be perfectly level. Use cheap wooden shingles as shims to get it to line up.
  • Check with the utility companies before digging deep post holes.

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