The post supporting an entrance gate gets the most stress and is critical to maintain the alignment for the gate to work properly. Over time, the post will deteriorate from insect attach, fungus and mold, and water damage – slowly weakening and the gate will not close properly. Short term fixes like shimming the side or under the hinges or repositioning the latch will work for a while, but the real fix is to replace the post that supports the gate.
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Start by removing the gate and the fence from the post; then use the Wood Post Puller method to remove the post and concrete footing. Remove any concrete that has broken off or extra dirt that has fallen into the hole. Most privacy fence post will be 4×4 pressure treated lumber – using a 5×5 post for the gate will not change the aesthetics but will be stronger and last approximately 20% longer than a 4×4 post. Make sure the lumber used is rated for ground contact – 0.40 or 0.60 ACQ. It is best to purchase the post at the length you will need and not cut them, if you do cut the post put the cut end on top and treat the cut end with wood preservative.
Set the new post in place, use a clamshell-style posthole digger to adjust the depth of the hole, an enlarge or reposition the hole if needed. Don’t use concrete to reset the gate post, a well packed mixture of crushed gravel and sand/dirt mixture will hold the post securely and allow water to drain away from the post – greatly extending its life. For gate posts, it is important that the hole be tamped (compressed or packed) when the soil is dry – spend the time now to do the job right – you will work up a sweat but save a lot of time by having a solid post that won’t give you trouble later.
Make sure the gate hardware – strap hinges, slide bolt or gate latch, and all lag screws – are in good condition. Again, if anything is rusted, worn or bent its better to replace and use new materials at this point. Double-check the gate itself and replace any pickets that are warped, cracked or have chips missing. Don’t use nails on the gate pickets – use galvanized deck screws. See our article on selecting the right hardware to use for pressure treated lumber. Its best to use new materials rather than trying to cut a corner and recycling used hardware – the cost is minimal compared to the aggravation of dealing with substandard items that fail early.
Now you are ready to hang the fence gate – this is a two-person job. Attach the hinges to the gate first, then make sure the gate is aligned into position and mark the hinge hole locations onto the wood post. Drill the holes for the lag screws so the post doesn’t split. A couple taps with a hammer will get the lag bolts started – or use an impact wrench if you have one. Put one lag screw into each hinge and verify the alignment and swing of the gate, make any adjustments needed then install the remaining lag screws. Mount the latch mechanism and you are done!