Deckgate (Literally, How To Make A Deck Gate)

This isn’t “Deckgate” in the sense that there’s a scandal involving a deck (sorry Olivia Pope) but for anyone who might want to learn how to build a literal deck gate, well, this could help.

Our previous method of deck “gating” could be considered a little… lacking.

The nice weather has accentuated a shortcoming of our deck once again. Burger likes to sunbathe out there, but the temptation of a grassy yard full of bugs and fascinating smells often proves too great and he goes wandering. We don’t have a fence on our property, and he has gotten more brazen lately and may even wander into the neighbor’s yard. Hence the classy plywood barrier on one side and the leaned board on the other (yes, that was enough to keep him deck-bound).

Clearly some gates were in order, since we didn’t want to deny Burger his precious sun time but knew with a newborn that policing his whereabouts could fall through the cracks. I read a couple of tutorials online that were particularly helpful (this one and this one), then I took some measurements, sketched out a game plan (I modified both plans a little), and hit up Home Depot. Here’s what I came home with:

I was making two gates, so picture these supplies twice over.

To get everything I needed, I purchased two 10′ boards (cut into 3′ / 3′ /4′ sections) and one 8′ board (cut in half). The lengths above were just the rough cuts I got at Home Depot to make everything fit into the car more easily, but I knew I’d need to cut my own mitered corners at home. So I started by cutting 45° corners on one end of each board.

Making the second mitered cut was where I had to be precise on my measurement. I knew I wanted the gates to be an inch shorter than the length of the opening (to give them room to swing) and about the same height as the rest of the railings around the deck. So I marked my lengths and even drew the angle on the board so I was sure I was cutting each one in the right direction. This particular gate was 44″ wide and 29″ tall.

I cut the boards in pairs: the top & bottom boards together, and the two sides together. This ensured that the pairs were identical lengths, which was key to getting my gate all square in the end (so I carefully clamped them together before making the second 45° cut on the opposite end).

To join my frame together, I used my Kreg Jig to create two pocket holes on each end of the side boards. These are holes I’d later fill with wood putty.

So here’s my frame after everything was screwed together nice and tightly.

Next I had to attach the balusters to mimic the look of the rest of the deck’s railing. Before shopping I had measured the spacing between the existing balusters and determined I’d have space for five of them on my gate. So after cutting mine to length, I attached the first one at the center point of my gate on both the top and the bottom – using two 2″ decking screws (remarkably still left over from my deck project at our last house). Then I used some scrap wood to cut spacers to help me place the next balusters evenly. You can see those in this shot:

With the gate constructed, we just needed hardware to attach it. Home Depot sold this $15 kit that included two T-hinges and a latch, so I grabbed two of them. I had read in my research that a hinge should stretch about 1/5th the length of your gate. So these 8″ ones were just about perfect for our project.

To hang the gate, I used some scrap wood to prop it in place and (with Sherry’s help) determined the best spots to attach all of the hardware with of the provided screws. We couldn’t center the top hinge (it ran into the existing deck railing) so it rides a little low – but once the light wood is stained to match the rest of the deck we hope it won’t be too noticeable.

Then we just attached the latching mechanism to the other side, and we were in business.

We still have some leftover stain from last year’s deck “rejuvenation” that will make the gates a perfect match, but we have to wait about 2-3 weeks before we can stain them (pressure treated wood can bubble or peel if you don’t let it dry out for a little while before staining or painting it). But regardless of the mismatched look, we’re just happy to have ’em up and functional. Especially since it only took about three hours to make both of them and my total cost was $53 for two gates ($23 for the wood and $30 for the hardware). File this project under “Why didn’t I do this last year???”

Here’s the gate on the other side. I used the same process, although the opening was a half-inch smaller than the other and – get this – an inch shorter! I guess the original railings get a little lower as they wrap around the deck.

The only extra challenge this gate presented was that I had to screw the hinge into the hand rail and foot rail, rather than the post. The hinge was too tall to fit entirely on it (we really wanted it to open in this direction, so hinging it on the other side didn’t make sense).

Thankfully it was a pretty easy remedy – I just screwed in a couple of scrap blocks (the initial mitered corners that I had sawed off) to give the hinge a place to attach. Obviously I’ll be staining those too, so they should blend in a lot more in a few weeks.

We’ll probably leave this side open most of the time, since this is where Burger exits to do his business, and just close it when he wants to linger on the deck. So we’re planning to add some sort of hook-and-eye latch to keep it propped open so it doesn’t swing in the wind or anything.

Sherry and I have been talking about eventually fencing some of the backyard so Burger can roam a bit more freely, but in the meantime he seems to love that he can warm his bare belly more often without us chasing him into the house.

Update: Thankfully, just like Burger can’t slip through the rest of the deck’s perimeter, he can’t get through the new gates. He’d have to leap into the air, clear the bottom frame and the balusters perfectly, and then land on the stairs below, and he’s just not that daring (he’s much happier to be lazy and bake in the sun). But a more brazen pup might be able to squeeze through if they’re small – and determined – enough, in which case I’d recommend closer spacing or adding some sort of a cross board.

And we figure we’ll probably be very grateful (gateful?) to have these once Teddy’s more mobile so we can keep him contained without having to worry about tumbles down the stairs. Parenting win!


  1. says

    Good idea… and that seemed pretty straight-forward. We have no decks, but have a min pin that absolutely basks in the spring and summer weather. We opted for an underground fence and have been pretty happy with the purchase. We have had it about 5 years now and the only time we have issues is if she wears her battery down and we do not realize it. On the other hand we also have a boxer and she NEVER tests her collar .. lol she has no desire to wander.
    I hope Burger enjoys!!

    • Lisa says

      Just some thoughts, for anyone considering invisible fencing — When functioning properly, underground fences keep the dog in, but they don’t prevent other dogs or animals from entering the yard and fighting (or breeding!) with your pet, or spreading parasites or disease, or people from entering the yard and stealing your pet (dog theft is a serious issue in some areas, mostly for “bait dogs” for dog-fighting rings). Even with an invisible fence, I would be afraid to leave my dog outside unsupervised.

  2. says

    I cannot get over my admiration and total jealousy of how when you need to do something you guys just DO it. LOL.
    That gate looks amazing and I wish that either my husband or myself were so handy… I’ve been wanting to add something like that to our front porch for years so that the kids can play safely… hasn’t happened though.

    Hope you’re all enjoying these precious days with Clara & Teddy!
    xo MB

    • jessica says

      Same issue. I’m on mobile. The page was a little off yesterday, all the borders and stuff were missing. Today it just shows me comments only.

    • says

      Ugh, this sounds regional. Hmm. Or maybe it’s just on certain mobile devices? We are on our iphones (and laptops) and seeing it fine, and our load time/internal stuff says everything is running well too. Are you all in a certain region? Are you all on mobile phones? Would love to get things fixed for you guys!


    • Alisa says

      I couldn’t get to this post from your site. Every refresh didn’t show a new post. But I could get on the post, which loaded fine, coming over from facebook. I’m on Firefox.

    • says

      To anyone having an issue, can you try refreshing a few times and if that doesn’t work, just clear your cache/cookies/data. That should solve it we think!


    • says

      Had problems via chrome this morning, but firefox loaded it okay. I’m in NC. I uploaded a pic of what I was seeing to your fb page in the reply/comments where everyone was posting about the problem. Hope it helps!

    • Pam the Goatherd says

      I tried to get in from your facebook link post and got the “page unavailable’ message several times before it finally loaded.
      I’m in South Central Michigan on IE. It’s raining like crazy here today and this system covers the entire Midwest and Great Plains regions. Don’t know if that might be what is causing the problems. Rain always seems to slow things down internet-wise out here in the boonies.

    • peggy schomaker says

      Same here–comments only for Deckgate from FB, or I get April 24 page when I go from my favorites bar.

    • says

      Chrome 34 is major messed up as far as showing YHL. I usually use Firefox, which has worked (and is working) fine. I’m in south Tennessee. (since you say it may be regional?)


    • Alissa says

      No problems accessing the site in Colorado (if that helps diagnose anything). Good luck!

    • says

      Thanks Alissa! At this point we believe the glitch is over. Anyone still having issues anywhere? We haven’t heard of any for the last half of the day so we’re hoping it’s resolved :)


  3. says

    Yay! We were just looking to buy baby gates for our deck to keep our dog in, but this is way better. Our deck is on the front of the house, so we need something that looks nice, but can also be latched back when we want to keep them open. This is a pretty easy looking project (said the girl who always thinks things look easy until she actually TRIES them.)

    • Barbara says

      Ha ha Maureen – I have the same problem (thinking things are easy) and hubby ends up coming to sort out my mess!

    • Rachel says

      Same here. It looks easy, I get it going, and then I convince hubby to help me with X part after I screw it up enough. Do I get a A for effort? :)

  4. Ashley H. says

    It looks great! Burger doesn’t try to squeeze through the balusters? We have a small dog and he is able to maneuver his way through them.

    • says

      Burger has a very unique dog-personality. If you put a curtain up he believes he can’t go through it. The guy is either extremely timid or lazy or both. Since he’d have to jump into the air, clear the bottom frame and the balusters perfectly, and then land on the stairs below, I think he just doesn’t have it in him. But a more brazen pup might be able to squeeze through if they’re small – and determined – enough, in which case we’d recommend closer spacing or adding some sort of a cross board.


    • braelin says

      I was wondering the same thing– it looks like he could shimmy between them (glad to know he can’t and/or his personality simply won’t lend itself to that…). The image of him having to leap the gate and nail a landing on steps on the other side is funny…. you are lucky that he won’t attempt that… my pup would totally try (and probably break a leg in the act…)!

    • Jamie says

      As both of my dogs think they are ninjas, I had the same thought/concern. I have a husky/shepherd mix who would likely try to squeeze through those balusters, and somehow she’d probably succeed.

    • Tiffany says

      I have a 7 lb “mix” and she totally jumps baby gates! She can clear a 4 ft. baby gate without touching it. We think she has Italian greyhound in her? Anyway she’s like a show dog lol.

    • Kim S says

      Sherry, you said Burger is maybe timid, lazy, or both. I would throw “extremely obedient” into the mix…give the guy some credit, ha! Maybe he just figures that if you bother to block it off, you must want him to stay out, so he will. :o)

    • says

      Haha! I wouldn’t go that far – he’s amaaaazing at stealthily stealing Clara’s snacks… as long as it just involves running up to the ottoman and grabbing them (no heavy acrobatics, haha).


  5. Rachel Snodgrassgr says

    Burger is so cute, behaving so well! We use a 1 ft tall shoe rack to keep our big boxer dog out of the kitchen, its so funny to see him longingly stare at food from behind what amounts to an imaginary blockade. Your woodworking skills are getting so impressive, any chance you will ever build the kids an outdoor playhouse? I love you guys!:)

    • says

      We have chatted about a playhouse but we think some sort of swingset/playset would get the most, so we’re debating building one of those or retrofitting an old one (maybe from craigslist) or something. We also want to make a little shed someday so that could be similar to a playhouse build…


    • says

      You need to build a tree house! I have awesome memories of the tree house (split level with a crow’s nest, slide, monkey bars, fireman’s pole, and a swing made out of this huge thick rope) that my Papaw made for me when I was 7/8ish. I would love going there every summer to see my tree house. I even used the crow’s nest to do homework in when I was in high school and we moved back to Illinois next to my grandparents. What I’m trying to say is there are memories that a can only be made with a tree house for kids.

    • Bren says

      Oh, totally do the retrofit off of Craigslist! You could incorporate a little play house/pirate fort space ship and save tons of dough! I even see them for free if you disassemble it yourself, all the time. Love the gate. My husband made one last summer after 12 years without one and we were like, “Duh, why didn’t we do this before we raised 3 kids and 2 pups?” xoxo

  6. Jill says

    That photo of him sunning his belly is awesome. He looks small enough to fit through the slats of the deck surround and gate – but I guess he knows his boundaries!

  7. says

    Aww, Burger gate! I love that piece of plywood kept him in. What a good pup. Our Toy Fox Terrier dug her way THROUGH a box to break out of a generous area in the basement we provided her and just thought stacking a box or two to keep her from wandering the whole space would suffice. Um, no. Your little man is much more polite. Gate well earned!

  8. Barbara says

    Oooh – another great idea. My yard is fenced, but my dog ignores the steps and flies off the deck – despite her joint issues. I may create one to force her to stop in the hopes that she will actually use the steps!

  9. Crystal says

    I really loved this post and hope you guys have more like this coming now that the showhouse is almost over (not that I don’t enjoy that too but this is why I relate to you guys and enjoy reading your blog so much).

    We’re upgrading the chicken brooder and built a bigger one for our chicks (2 by 4 feet – until they move out to the coop) and had to deal with hinges and hook and eye latches this weekend too.

  10. Allison says

    I was looking through some old photo albums from when I was little, and my parents totally just used plywood to keep me on the deck!

  11. Kelly says

    It looks really good!

    Did you think about cross bracing it, though, like this?

    I’ve always been told that you need to either have a tension cable or a diagonal piece of wood across a gate to counteract the force of gravity. (I know my kids would speed the sagging along by stepping on the gate and swinging on it!)

    Anyway, I just love your yard. It looks so peaceful and the covered area on your deck looks so inviting. Good job, guys!

    • says

      Thanks for the link Kelly! We wanted the gate to match the same look as the rest of the deck, and have seen other tutorials where it seemed to work and hold up well (especially since it’s not a super wide gate) but the option to add something like that is good to know if we ever feel like we want to stabilize it more. It’s pretty solid with the 2 x 4″ frame though.


  12. Mara says

    While I understand you maintained the spacing to keep things symmetrical, it seems like he would still be able to easily slip right through. Is it perspective or could he actually go through?

    • says

      Thankfully, just like Burger can’t slip through the rest of the deck’s perimeter, he can’t get through the new gates. He’d have to leap into the air, clear the bottom frame and the balusters perfectly, and then land on the stairs below, and he’s just not that daring (he’s much happier to be lazy and bake in the sun). But a more brazen pup might be able to squeeze through if they’re small – and determined – enough, in which case we’d recommend closer spacing or adding some sort of a cross board.


  13. Darcey says

    The gate looks great! I’d love to adapt this to fit our problem spot with our dogs- but we just have a metal fence to connect to. :/ maybe we’ll get creative this summer- thanks for the inspiration!

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