Ben is obsessed with horizontal fences. OBSESSED. When we first put an offer in on another home, it didn’t have a fence at all, and Ben was THRILLED by the chance for us to install our own horizontal fence. And he’s right- they’re an awesome modern detail, and it’s great to mix up the tried-and-true planked fence style that we’ve seen for years.
At our current home (counting down the days until our 1-year housiversary!) we actually have kind of an unusual fence/gate situation. Our property has a chain-link fence, but it’s surrounded on all 3 sides by traditional wooden fences from our neighbors. Essentially, our fence doesn’t really serve a purpose, but we didn’t really see a need to replace the chain link when our neighbors’ fences completely close off our yard. We do have a wooden gate that’s actually connected to our neighbor’s fence. Our best guess is that when she had her fence built, the previous owners of our house decided to have a more secure gate and had her contractors install it. So, all that said, we have the framework and supports for a great wooden gate, but ours was in bad shape. (And apparently, it was physically impossible to take an in-focus photo of this terrible gate- and now it’s been destroyed, so these photos are all-she-wrote)
One of the doors had been kicked in at some point, so you can see how curved it was. This had also made the gate almost impossible to open and close easily. There was a large gap at the bottom of the doors, but at the top, they overlapped. Basically, you had to use Ben-level force any time you needed to get in or out. Long story short: it wasn’t working.
So while shopping at Home Depot for a completely unrelated project, we got the itch to go ahead and make this gate happen. We had the measurements we needed on hand, and so we just took the time to lay out boards in the aisle to get an idea of the layout we would want. (See blurry phone photo). It took a few combinations of 1x4s, 1x6s and 1x8s to get it exactly right, plus 2x4s for framing. We were actually able to reuse our existing hardware, so the only costs for this project were lumber and wood sealant.
While these gates are physically cumbersome, it’s a relatively simple project. The most challenging part is hanging the gates once they’re done, and that’s just because they’re a little beastly.
It starts with the frame- attached with pocket holes. (Every step of the way, we would lay everything out on the grass to make sure things were lining up)
The corners get reinforced by braces. We laid the 2x4s out on top of the frame, and used the speed square to make sure they’d all be positioned at the same angle. In the middle photo you can (maybe?) see the pencil marks we used to show where we’d need to drill our pocket holes on the frame. (This was a great time to have a partner, because Ben and I were able to be super-efficient during this phase. I marked the corner braces, then he cut them all while I will drilling pocket holes. It came together really quickly!)
Next it was time to attach the horizontal slats. We laid them out in the right configuration, and made sure they fit properly on the frame. Then we had to mark a line that we would drill all the holes along. Because they’d be visible from the front, we wanted to make sure they would be aligned. Then we needed shims to space out the slats. We used multiple shims around the largest slats, and single shims between the smaller ones. This helped create a really graphic and intentional look.
And then, HUZZAH! You have gates!! And then here’s the challenging part: making them actual gates by hanging them. While we decided to reuse the hardware from the previous gate, we had to remove all of it so that they could be repositioned properly on these pieces.
Next, we placed the gate next to the post (bonus points if you can spot Ben creepily standing behind the gate!), and used shims to hold the gate off the ground to make sure it would swing properly. It was much easier to attach the hardware to the gate first, and hold it in place, than to try and wrangle the gate to the right position and bolt the hardware down if it was attached to the post first.
And now you REALLY have gates! The last bit of hardware was a special 2-way lock kit we bought so that we can open the gate from either side.
We have to wait 30 days before applying our sealant , but it should be a pretty simple process. Meanwhile, we’ll just be over here, enjoying opening and closing our new gate with ease.