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Project Ideas: Outdoor Living

Easy to Build Pet and Child Porch Safety Gate


Spending time outdoors during the summer months can be so enjoyable. Time in the yard and time on the patio can be so relaxing; but time on a porch with a toddler is anything but relaxing keeping guard over a flight of stairs literally puts you on the “edge of your seat”!


A porch is a very special place. Growing up in the city of Boston among so many multifamily homes, front and back porches were always prized and considered an extension of living space during the summer months. I have so many fond memories of summer evenings on the front porch playing cards, punks smoldering, hoping the ice cream truck would drive by.


My new house has a wonderful tiny front porch with a flight of stairs that drops right down to a small brick landing, with just a sidewalk width to the street, a scenario that would not be good if a child was to tumbled down the steps. I knew that I would need a gate the very first time I walked up those steps.


My vision was to build a gate that would flow seamlessly into the front porch railing system. I had a few plans in my head, using balusters and railing, but the real design came to me while I was walking the aisle of my Home Depot lumber department.


I actually had loaded my lumber cart with all the materials I had planned to use and then I came upon an end cape with this fabulous Finger Jointed Primed White Pine interior/exterior wood, the thickness and width would totally work for my plan and this product would produce a gate that was so much lighter in weight.



With dimensions in hand the wonderful Home Depot lumber associate cut my wood into the specifications for my plan:


·         4 pieces of the 1x5 @ 43 inches

·         9 pieces of the 1x2 @ 28 inches

·         1 piece of the 1x4 @ 43 inches

With the fresh cut lumber ready to go I gather my tools:

drill, tape measure, corner square, level, pencil, trigger clamps, and paint brush and set up my work area.

Materials that I also picked up at the Home Depot to complete this project:

gate latch, locking rubber caster, T Hinges, a quart of custom color exterior paint, sample size contrast Aloe Blossom paint, screws that came with the drill bit


Step 1: I evenly spaced out the baluster pieces to have a 3.5-inch spacing between them, a bit closer than the existing porch railing system, I just wanted to make sure that a tiny dog or a toddler head would not fit through.


Step 2: I pre-drilled pilot holes, then with deck screws, a square angle, and clamps (measuring and spacing each placement) I attached the 1x2 slats to the 1x5 at both the top and the bottom.


Step 3: Once the slats were all in place, I place the second piece of 1x5 across the top and bottom and made a kind of rail sandwich.


Step 4: Next I placed the 1x4 across the top to create a cap for the gate.

While I was at the Home Depot, I had brought a tiny paint chip from the original railing and had the paint color matched. What a great help the paint associate was, the color turned out to be a perfect match!


Step 5: I painted the gate and then accented the inner edge of the cap with contrasting color that I had used on the cellar door and a bench on the porch, to pull the whole space together.



Step 6: Next, I pre-drilled and then screwed the locking caster to the bottom corner of the gate. The caster lifted the gate just enough to align gate bottom and top rail for the hinges to be placed. * I had started out with a much bigger hinge, but once I reassessed the project realized that the original heavy duty hinges were over kill and too large for the attachment.



Step 7: I placed, marked, and pre-drilled the T- hinges into place. This was tricky because of the narrow rail system on the porch, it just took some time, and a third hand would have been nice…but it is totally doable!



Step 8: Last step, set both sides of the gate latch at the top corner of the gate: mark, drill and screw into place!

This gate did take a bit of time and had many steps, but boy did I learn a lot!


Lessons learned: working with wood demands precise measurements…not like fabric where as a fold or tuck can hind a multitude of sins. Painting requires dry time that cannot be rushed! Some hinges do not swing both ways. Pre-drilling is always, always best, and a locking caster can stop an ingenious toddler that managed to figure out how to open the gate latch!


I have also learned that front porch time cannot be replaced by any other time, and that the memories that are already being made on my tiny front porch will stay with my children and their children forevermore…...and maybe I cannot build something to protect them all from harm everywhere, but the security and sanctity of the front porch for a tiny dog, and the sweetest little lady, is in place!


The gate is always latched, but the door is always open, welcome to the porch. This is my most favorite project of all time, the gate works so well and it looks great too!


Create a safe haven for your pets and toddlers, stop by your local Home Depot for help with this project, and any other vision you may have…. you can do it, we are here to help!




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Posted 2016-08-09T18:15:16+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS Maureen_HD_BOS
That gate looks great and with your easy to follow instructions
I could do it.

Can I purchase the beautiful little girl and the adorable dog at the Depot?
Posted 2016-08-11T18:50:08+0000  by Carle

Greetings Carle,

No, I am sorry the wonderful, little dog and wee, little lady are not available at the Home Depot….they are priceless!

Thank you for the response to the gate post, enjoy your outdoor porch, deck, patio and garden time! 


Posted 2016-08-16T12:29:58+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS
That's great!
Posted 2016-08-16T18:00:47+0000  by stephevangel
This is a great tutorial for those with little ones. As a mom of 2 under 2, I know how difficult it can be to keep an eye on both mobile and inquisitive kids. We frequently take trips to Tennessee and stay in rental cabins - most of which have expansive decks. I may have to make a few of these gates and install them on the homes we stay at (with owner approval of course) so the kids can enjoy running on the patio. Mind if I link to this article on my site? We have a section on decks and patios and I think this is a great article to get homeowners to consider adding a gate to existing decks!
Posted 2016-09-20T01:06:32+0000  by SammyBP
Greetings SammyBP,

Of course, link us to your site!

I have to say that since I installed the gate I have had a lot of positive comments from neighbors, and just people walking by. One passer by told me "I love the gate, your porch is so welcoming".

The most positive aspect of the gate is the safety and security it provides to us porch dwellers, and I have to tell you that this is the primary entrance to my house; that gate is opened and closed dozens of times day and it is smooth and works so well. My granddaughter has not figured out the locking caster yet......which has allowed hours of relaxing game playing, singing, and dining.... perfect porch time!

Thank you for the comments and for adding us to your site,  Maureen 
Posted 2016-09-22T15:21:24+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS

Love and need that gate.

I am going to build that!

Lately I have been using a new site,  to create DIY projects. It is helpful in planning and setting out a material list and budget for anything I want to create. In addition, the tools they provide allow you to save tutorials, ideas and how to videos in my own project folder to keep track of everything I need in one place. I love it.

Thanks for the idea on the porch gate!

Posted 2017-05-17T16:17:29+0000  by Jordo23
Greetings Jordo,

I am so happy that you are interested in the porch gate! The gate was the perfect addition to my porch, I even enjoy the 'click-clink' the lock makes when the gate is opened and closed...a little added security, and an announcement that a guest has arrived!

Show us some pictures of your 'porch gate project'....we would love to see them!

Posted 2017-05-25T19:13:04+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS
Hi Maureen,

Another fabulous project, you always do a great job of illustrating the steps, which makes the project look easy to do, keep those great projects coming!

Posted 2017-06-19T18:22:10+0000  by Mike_HD_OC
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