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How to Restore an Old Wood Gate

Restore an Old Wood Gate Featured image

Wooden gates will become worn and ragged simply because natural wood is exposed to all sorts of weather conditions. No matter how much outdoor wood is treated or sealed, sunlight, wind, and rain will eventually cause wood to degrade and eventually rot. At some point it will be time to replace wooden posts and slats, and here are some of the best tips on how to do it yourself.

Assess the condition of your gate

man checking condition of old wood gate

The very first step is to take a look at the condition of your wooden gate and see what needs to be repaired or replaced. Chances are, the best step is to replace all the wood slats and posts that have been exposed to the environment and outdoor weather. Hinges and hardware should be unscrewed and taken off before being removed one piece at a time. All nails or screws need to be removed so they don’t cause skin injury or happen to get stepped on.

Remove old slats/posts

The removal of old slats is easier to do than posts for obvious reasons since most fence posts will be mounted into the ground. These slats are removed using a claw hammer if there are nails used to hold them in place. If screws are used, then a screwdriver or cordless drill with a screw bit will help remove old or rusty screws. These screws need to be placed into a spare jar and collected separately.

Rotted and overly weathered slats are then stacked into a pile off to the side of your house where they will be stored until you decide what to do with them. It’s better to place these slats on top of cinder blocks so they aren’t directly sitting on the ground. This will help keep the wood drier if there is a lot of rain or moisture present. The next step is to remove standing posts that are anchored into the ground.

Using a shovel, the soil needs to be dug up until a fencepost can be wobbled around enough to remove the post completely. If this is an older fencepost that has concrete poured around the wood or into a plastic bucket, then this needs to be removed too. The best thing to do to remove the concrete is to use a sledgehammer to break off the concrete. These concrete pieces can be broken into smaller bits if needed and used as filler for a new post anchor.

Purchase new wood slats/posts

This will be a good time to pop down to your local hardware store or home improvement center. There are great selections of fence posts and wooden slats that are pressure-treated. This is wood that’s used in any situation where natural wood is exposed to natural elements and moisture. Even if you end up staining and sealing the wood, the pressure treatment will last 10x longer than wood that isn’t pressure-treated.

Many new fence posts come with premade concrete anchors that are nailed or screwed into place using predrilled anchor holes within the anchor itself. Make a count of how many fence posts you need based on what was installed before removing. You will also need to decide on the style of slats that feature different widths and decorative touches. The height of fence posts will also need to be considered for privacy reasons and personal preferences.

If you decide to go with natural wood that isn’t pressure-treated, choose natural and resistant outdoor wood such as Pine, Cedar, or Redwood. Cedar is better than Pine because it tends to last longer outside and doesn’t warp or shrink as Pine can. Redwood is very good at being outdoors and naturally, resists insects. Redwood is also a high-end priced wood that will be more expensive than Cedar or Pine.

How to paint the new slats and posts?

man painting wood slats/posts

Before you install your wood posts and slats, it will be a good idea to stain or paint them beforehand. The reason is so they will be painted and treated before anything is screwed or nailed into place. This helps to get evenly painted surfaces that don’t have empty spots underneath the slats or in between adjoining points. The easiest way to paint or stain each of these is to lay the slats and posts between two sawhorses so you can paint it easier.

After each topside area is covered, these can be rotated or flipped to seal the other side once one side has dried. Be sure to use outdoor stains or sealers that are meant to block UV or are rated for weatherproof conditions. Allow these pieces to dry for at least one day before installing them. If you have many slats or fence posts, lay this upright against the side of a wall or along the side of your house to let them dry naturally.

How to install the newly painting slats and posts

man attaching slats to fence posts

If you have fence posts that are constructed from metal, the next step is to simply attach the slats to the fence posts using new hardware screws or mounting bolts. In the case of older fence posts that were made from wood, these will need to be remounted into the ground. Using premade fence anchors, a hole in the ground will allow each post to sit inside a hole dug into the soil.

If you don’t use a premade anchor you can always use a plastic jug or 1-gallon milk container as a base form to pour fresh concrete into. Use any leftover concrete from previous fence gate posts or small rocks to take up excess space inside the container. Place the fence posts in an upright position using as vertical as possible. Use a carpenter’s level to get a more accurate leveling point. Stack your rocks so there is space between them and pour the new concrete mix.

These new posts can be put inside pre-dug holes and soil packed around them. Make sure that the fence posts are deep enough to support their own weight and stand without much trouble. Pack the soil tightly around the fence post using a flattened section of wood such as a 2×4 or 4×4 section of wood. Adjust the fence post as its being mounted using the level to get the best level possible. Now, the slats can be attached to the fence posts using nails, bolts, or screws.

You can also install a new gate door using new hinges and hardware between two separate fence posts. You will need to measure the distance between a fence door and the fence posts, so the door will close properly.

How to get rid of old slats/posts?

DIY projects on old fence slats

It’s not recommended to burn old fence wood since there could be contamination within the wood that isn’t good for burning in a BBQ or furnace. For this reason, it’s better to send this wood to a location where it can be recycled or used for compost. You’ll want to search out a local haul guy near you so they can come and pick it up. These guys are real pros at finding the best option for recycling.

If you don’t end up calling a junk hauling or recycling company, these wooden slats can be reused for backyard DIY projects for planters or decorations. If the wood is too rotted, it might not be suitable or unstable to use at all so calling the junk hauler could be your best option.

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