How to Attach a Gate Latch to a Non-Flush Surface

Written by denise nyland
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How to Attach a Gate Latch to a Non-Flush Surface
For the latch to function properly, the gate must be aligned to the gatepost. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Installing a gate latch typically takes under an hour to complete. To function properly, the two parts of the latch are aligned where the gate meets the gatepost and are screwed in place. If the gate and gatepost are not flush when the gate is closed, the latch will not function properly. The appropriate solution to this problem depends on the relative positions of the gate and gatepost when the gate is closed. In the end, the surfaces that the latch components are attached to are made flush and the latch is installed in the usual manner.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 2-by-4-inch pressure-treated plank, 18 inches long
  • Drill with driving bits
  • 2 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Latch kit, including installation screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Scrap lumber, pressure treated
  • Coated or galvanised steel washers

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Instructions

    If the Front of the Gate Is Behind the Front of the Gatepost

  1. 1

    Stand facing the back side of the fence, opposite the hinged surface of the gate. Ask an assistant to close the gate (just until the front of the gate is flush with the front of the gatepost) and to hold it in place. Position an 18-inch long, 2-by-4-inch plank vertically on the gatepost, approximately centred to the height of the gate. The front surface of the plank is positioned to meet the back of the gate. Once installed, the plank will act as a gate stop. Trace the edges of the plank onto the gatepost with a pencil. Remove the plank.

  2. 2

    Attach several screws to the plank, evenly spaced in a line, 4 or 5 inches apart. The screws should go only partly through the plank. Open the gate to give yourself more room to work. Reposition the plank on the gatepost, aligned to the traced outline. While securely holding the plank in place, screw the plank to the gatepost. Move to the hinge side of the fence and close the gate. Use a heavy stone or brick to hold the gate closed while you install the latch.

  3. 3

    Test-fit the latch components on the gate and gatepost to determine where they should be installed to function properly. Once you are satisfied with their positions, use a pencil to trace around the base plates of the latch components of the gate and gatepost. The moving portion of the latch is installed first, typically on the gate.

  4. 4

    Align the latch component to the reference outline on the gate. Using a drill and driving bit, screw the component to the gate, using screws provided in the latch kit.

  5. 5

    Align the latch component to the reference outline on the gatepost. Recheck its position to ensure that the latch operates properly when the gate is closed. Screw the component to the gatepost.

    If the Front of the Gate Is in Front of the Gatepost

  1. 1

    Close the gate securely. Measure the depth of the gate that protrudes in front of the gatepost. A gap smaller than 3/4 inch may be corrected by placing steel washers between the latch and the gatepost. When you are mounting the latch component onto the post, pass the installation screws through the screw-holes in the base plate, then through a stack of washers and into the post. The thickness of the stack of washers is equal to the width of the gap between the gate and gatepost. A gap larger than 3/4 inch will require installation of a wooden plank on the front of the gatepost to act as a spacer.

  2. 2

    Cut a piece of scrap lumber to the width of the gatepost and 4 inches long. The thickness of the plank depends on the discrepancy in alignment of the gate and gatepost. Steel washers may be used in conjunction with the plank to create a spacer of appropriate thickness. Position the plank on the front of the gatepost at the height where you will install the latch. Mount the plank to the post with screws, one near each corner.

  3. 3

    Close the gate. Use a heavy stone or brick to hold the gate closed while you install the latch. Test-fit the latch components on the gate and spacer to determine where they should be installed to function properly. Once you are satisfied with their positions, use a pencil to trace around the base plates of the latch components of the gate and spacing plank. The moving portion of the latch is installed first, typically on the gate. Align the latch component to the reference outline on the gate. Using a drill and driving bit, screw the component to the gate, using screws provided in the latch kit.

  4. 4

    Align the latch component to the reference outline on the spacing plank. Recheck its position to ensure that the latch operates properly when the gate is closed. If the spacer is not quite thick enough to bring the latch components into alignment when the gate is closed, place stacks of washers between the latch and the plank. Screw the latch component to the plank by passing the screws through the screw-holes in the base plate of the latch, through the stacks of washers, into the plank.

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