Build a Deck Gate: Step-by-Step Guide

Although there’s quite a bit to it, learning how to build a deck gate can come in handy for any homeowner. Because a deck gate is usually higher off the ground, it becomes an important safety measure for designating a safe place for your children and pets to play and enjoy the outdoors.

Before building your deck gate, here are some critical steps to ensure your deck stays safe and secure.

Safety Tips to Remember When Building a Deck Gate

Before you start building, consider safety. International Building Code regulations are the most stringent guidelines you can use, so Mr. Handyman® recommends following these rules when building your deck gate:

  • Handrails and gates must be at least 42" above the deck surface.
  • No gaps in or under the gate can be wider than four inches.
  • The gate must open onto the deck, not the stairs.

You should also check with your local regulations as well to ensure compliance. The most important part of building a deck gate is ensuring you build something safe and secure.

Step 1: Determine the Gate Location & Measurements

Before you do anything, determine where you want to place your gate. Chances are, there is an opening that you want to secure.

Measure the opening of your gate. Be sure to subtract one inch from this measurement to allow for a latch and hinges.

Once you have the opening measurement, it’s time to get the height measurement. Remember that the bottom edge of your gate cannot be more than four inches above the deck surface. You’ll also need to subtract the width of the top and bottom boards (about 7 inches total) from your measurement. The measurements you get here will be applied to the two 2x4s that frame the sides of your gate.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Materials & Tools

Now that you know how big of a gate you’ll need to build, it’s time to prepare your materials and tools. Below is a list of some materials you’ll need when building a deck gate.

  • Measuring tape
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • Lumber—pressure-treated 2x4s and several 2x2 balusters, depending on the desired width
  • Wood screws
  • Two gate hinges
  • One gate latch
  • Four metal corner braces

You will also need a second person to assist with holding the gate in place. Once you have all your materials, it’s time to get to work.

Step 3: Assemble the Gate

Once you have the design, measurements, and materials, begin construction. Following the steps below will help you learn how to make a gate for a deck.

  1. Go back to the measurements you took for the opening of the gate. Cut two pressure-treated 2x4s to this length to make the top and bottom of your gate’s frame.
  2. Next, cut two 2x4s using the measurements you took for the height of your gate.
  3. Once you have your 2x4s cut, use three-inch wood screws to attach all four together in an open rectangle, with the wider (3.5") edges of the boards facing outward like a picture frame.
  4. Lay a 2x4 underneath the gate frame diagonally. Use a pencil to mark where you need to cut the ends of the cross member. Trim the 2x4 and screw it into place.
  5. Now you need to add balusters to the inside of the frame. Measure the inside dimensions of the frame and cut the desired number of 2x2 balusters to the appropriate length. Remember that you cannot have any gaps in the gate greater than four inches. Attach the balusters to the frame with wood screws. If you wish to paint your gate, do it before moving on to step 6. Be sure to apply durable exterior paint in a well-ventilated area—preferably outside. Allow the paint to dry completely before continuing to work on the gate.
  6. Next, add hardware to the gate. Attach two hinges (top and bottom) to one side of the gate and affix a latch barrel to the other side. Screw a metal brace into each corner for additional stability.
  7. Have your helper hold the gate in place, resting it on level support while you attach the hinges to the deck railing. Remember that the gate must open onto the deck, not the stairs.
  8. Attach the latch mechanism to the opposite side of the deck railing.

Congratulations, you now know how to build a gate for a deck!

Building a Deck Gate Without Lifting a Finger

Learning how to build a deck gate is difficult, even for those with significant experience and the proper tools. Even then, you may not get it right the first time and waste a lot of time and money. Your local Mr. Handyman can help! From inside and outside home improvements to commercial services, all our projects carry our Done Right Promise! Whether you’re looking to build a deck gate or explore our many other home improvement and handyman services, our experts are ready to support you. Call us today or click here to find the Mr. Handyman near you.