There are a wide array of gate latches available, most of which will work with any well-built gate. Some latches work as a stand-alone fastener, but others will need a padlock or separate lock and hasp for security. Purchase your gate latches before building your gate and fence as this hardware will affect the clearance between gate and post. Other considerations are corrosion factor and the latch’s chemical reaction to the attached wood.
Gate latches are available in several different styles: basic hook-and-eye, which are inconvenient for frequently used gates, slide or barrel bolt latches, thumb latches, which are operated by depressing the latch with your thumb to lift the latch out of its holder, locking hasps, which require a padlock to secure, and traditional wrought iron latches. You may also build a custom latch out of 1-by-4-inch pine to create a slide-bar latch using a piece of dowel rod for the slide’s handle.
Select gate latches crafted from corrosion-resistant metal. Triple zinc-dipped metal, galvanised metal or stainless steel are the most durable choices. Stainless steel is the only metal guaranteed to not discolour cedar and redwood. Metal will not cause staining when used with pressure-treated lumber. Though expensive, stainless steel is your best choice in most situations.
Plan Your Purchase
How your gate frame is oriented and placed in your landscape will affect which type of latch can be properly secured through the siding and into the gatepost and framing. Once you have the plans for your gate and adjacent post, you can make your buying decision for your latch.
For a garden gate, install a floral- or leaf-patterned thumb latch. Install a latch that opens with gravity that uses a weight in a unique shape: an anchor for a lakeside garden, a horseshoe for a rural garden, or a bird for a bird-friendly landscape. Consider a gate that opens with a unique-shaped handle that fits your home’s personality.
Use materials other than traditional metal latches for your gate. Rope makes an interesting fastener for a ranch-style or Japanese garden. Install spring hinges on your gate and you will only need a handle on your gate. Try an antique glass door handle. Try a horseshoe latch that can be twisted to release the gate post positioned in its opening. Fashion a leather strap into a loop that is anchored on your fixed fence post and can be looped over your gate post to keep it closed.