How to Install the True Latch Gate Brace

Below is a through video on how to repair your fence gate with a True Latch gate brace.

Contact details are also at the end of the video if you need further help after you’ve finished watching and still have questions.  

Repair a sagging wooden fence gate:

Brad Novacek, Certified Fence Contractor (CFC):

Today, we’ve got a wooden fence gate repair on a sagging gate. Homeowner says it is opening and closing super hard, so we can try, well, it was opening very hard. It doesn’t close either. But it does latch very hard. You have to use a lot of pressure to lift it up into the latching position. So this wooden brace, this cross brace is not doing enough that we want. So we’re going to go ahead and take it off, going to upgrade it to a new steel brace that’ll stiffen the gate, and also lift it with an adjustable portion where you can lift it, and adjust it however much you need, and at anytime you need. So let’s do that now.

Hi, I’m Brad with True Latch. I’m certified with the American Fence Association as a Certified Fence Contractor, and I’m a part owner in a fence company where for over 12 years we’ve built and installed thousands of fences, and about 5,000 fence gates. So, let’s fix this one. Okay. Usually with your fence gate you can have three problem areas, either your hinge posts, and your latch posts. Here you’ve got just a two by four on the house. Either those can be sagging, but this is nice and strong, and it’s tied in with another corner here with another a fence run. So, that’s all tied in together. So that’s nice and strong. Or your gate hardware. Your second issue can be your hinges, where they’ve got loose in the wood, and they’re really sagging down. With this one that’s not that big of a problem. And I’ve snugged up all the lag screws on the front face of those. And then the third issue usually is the gate itself where the bracing has allowed the gate to sag and shift down.

So with this one, it’s shifted down just a little bit. The latching side has come down some. So we’re going to take this brace off, and put on the new brace. Okay, so let’s take this wooden cross brace off. I’m using an impact driver to take these screws out, or you can use a drill. Okay. The wooden brace is off. If you’re doing something where you think you might need eye protection, wear some safety glasses. Okay. I got the True Latch Telescopic Gate Brace, and this telescopic version allows us to have the main brace, and then also an extension where we can telescope the brace to whatever size we need, and then we’ll fasten the two pieces together. We’ll fasten the extension to the main brace using some self drilling tap screws. That will tap and join them together. And then this adjustable portion up here at the top will allow us to adjust the brace, and cause that latch to be in the perfect position. So we need to open up this package. Your package might vary a little bit different than this one, but this is how it is currently.

When you’re getting ready to install the True Latch gate brace, you want to put your top bracket up here near the top of the end of the threads. So you’ve got your two hex nuts, and it goes in between your two hex nuts. This is the way it typically would look. So that when you adjust it in the future, you’ve got plenty of threads to turn those hex nuts all the way down those threads. So install it near the top end. And when you insert the extension into the main brace, it’s probably a best practice to have the face of the holes to be the same on your main brace as your extension, so that you can just apply pressure directly against the fence gate, rather than having holes on one side and holes in the other side, like on the bottom side of the top side. It just makes it easier to work with. Plus, when you put your extension in the main brace, make sure you put the side with no holes into the main brace, because you’re going to make new holes when you join with the self-drilling tap screws.

These self-drilling tap screws, you’re going to tap through that hole there, and join that steel, and draw that steel of extension up against the main brace, and those two will become one. Okay. We’ve got the gate braced about the length that we want it, so it doesn’t have to go exactly from corner all the way to the corner. You can if you want to, but this is where the old brace was at, so I’m going to go ahead and use those holes, and put my self-drilling screws in now. OK, we’re going to use the self-drilling screws to attach the main brace to the extension. See how it drew it up nicely together. You don’t want to over tighten. You can hear when you get close to the time where it’s going to over strip. The pitch, as it gets tighter, the tension gets tighter, the pitch of the gun gets higher. Okay, got those on. So these longer two and a half inch screws, they go down here on the bottom.

You want to attach the adjustable portion up at the hinge side, the top of hinge side, and the bottom portion will be down at the bottom of the latch side. And so these two long screws are going to go in the bottom of the brace on the latch side there. And then two of the shorter one and a half inch screws are going to go in your top of your top bracket, will go in the top bracket, and mount it there on your top of your hinge side. And then one of the other one and a half inch screws is going to be for your center bracket, to hold the brace to the gate. So it stiffens up the whole gate, holds it nice and tight.

If you don’t have somewhere to attach this to, that’s okay. It’s not required. Get a lot of questions saying, “Hey, I don’t have the horizontal piece”, or, “I don’t have somewhere to attach it to.” That’s okay. It’s not necessary, but it does help. So in the worst case, you could maybe put like a small block of wood, or add an extra piece going across. It just stiffens up the gate, the brace. It’s meant to go over the main part of the brace, the main brace, the one inch tubing. See how it fits over the brace nicely? Okay. We’re ready to install the brace. I’ve got it to the length that we want, and I’m going to go ahead and put some screws up here in the top bracket. Put my other screw, just set it there, going to put one screw through my top bracket. There’s different ways to attach it. It doesn’t have to be one particular way. Got one screw in in here on the top, and it’s nice and snug where it almost holds the brace there.

We’ve telescoped our brace to the length of our gate, for the diagonal that we need for our particular gate. We’ve telescoped it out. We’ve joined the extension to the main brace, so the telescoping part is done. Now we’re going to fasten it with our lag screws up here at the top, at the bottom, and then with our center bracket. This adjustable portion should be up here at the top by the hinge side, on the top by the hinge side, and then your latching side should attach down at the bottom. The reason is, is because basically we’re pulling up with this adjustable portion here. If you have any sag in the future, this adjustable portion is basically going to pull on the bottom of that side, but it’s going to pull in this direction and then the gate, because it can’t get any shorter, it’s actually going to lift that corner up instead. So this, by this pulling action’s actually going to lift that latch side up. So let’s finish putting in all of our screws.

If you’re worried that your wood is going to split, then go ahead and pre-drill. You can use about a 1/8″ drill bit, or whatever drill bit that you feel is best. So that your wood is not going to split. This is a very soft wood, you can use your fingernail, and I can push my fingernail into this wood. It’s a Western Red Cedar, very, very soft wood pressure-treated. If you have a pressure-treated gate, a lot of times, because of the pressurization, the process that it goes through, for some reason, it makes that wood sometimes more hard, or if the wood gets dried out, it might be brittle. Then you might want to pre-drill it just to make sure your wood is not going to split. But this wood, I can feel it. It’s very soft still, so I’m not worried that it’s going to split so I don’t need to pre drill.

And when I talk about pre drilling, I mean basically taking a drill, and then a drill bit, and see here this is a 1/8th drill bit, so basically take, a 1/8th should be sufficient for most. You could go smaller or you can go larger, if you think that your wood is very dense. If your wood is very dense, then you might want to consider a larger bit, but 1/8th is usually probably pretty typical. Just put your drill bit in your chuck. You want to be careful, and then you can hold your chuck and tighten it up. This one you can do by hand. Then you just pre-drill the hole where you need it. Okay. We’re going to attach our bottom screws into the bottom of the brace. If you need to pre-drill, then basically you just need to in and out the wood to make sure it doesn’t split. There we go.

Okay. The center bracket here just requires the one and a half inch screw, and we’re going to attach it to our center two-by-four. Okay. That’s installed. Got the center brackets, the two screws at the bottom, those self-drilling screws attaching the extension to the main brace, and then our two screws at the top. And now we can adjust our gate using these hex nuts. Usually when we want to tighten and lift the gate a little bit, you want to loosen this bottom hex nut, so that we can start tightening this top hex nut with one of our wrenches to see where we’re at. So we’ll see how we’re doing here. Okay. Oh, not doing too bad. Actually, I can feel it’s hitting the bottom, and dragging on bottom side of the latch. I’m not sure if you can see, but it’s still dragging and hitting on the bottom. You can see that gap.

There’s a gap in between there, and that top side, here there’s no gap the steel basically wants to come up, so we’re dragging pretty heavy, so we’re going to have to lift that and tighten that brace to take the sag out of this gate. You can either use the open-ended wrench, or the adjustable wrench, whatever that you have around. When you’re lifting the gate, make sure you leave some space when you’re tightening with the top nut, so thread that one down a little bit so you have space to make sure you’re not going to run into it. So we just need just a little bit more. Maybe those four twists will do it. Let’s try. That’s pretty good. Still a little bit on the bottom side. We’ll do just a few more. All right. Opening, closing very nice now. Good deal. Okay, I got it all installed. Just have to come and tighten up this bottom hex nut up against the bracket, and the other hex nut. Give it a little snug, and it’s done. Okay, now our gate is adjusted, lifted, and latches properly.

Okay. This wooden fence gate is repaired. It’s no longer sagging. It opens and closes nicely. It doesn’t require a hundred pounds of pressure to lift it back into the latching position, and the homeowner can adjust it anytime they need. Just come out here with a wrench, or an adjustable wrench, loosen this bottom hex nut down the threads a little bit, then tighten the top one, and then it’ll lift it back into the latching position. However much they need, they can just dial it in exactly what they need, and then tighten that bottom hex nut back up there to lock it down, and it’s good to go. They don’t need to call a contractor. Don’t need to have the gate rebuilt. Saves a lot of money.

So if you have any questions concerning your gate, if I left something out, or if you’re wondering if this would work on your gate, ask in the comments below, and we’ll answer that for you so that you can save yourself some money, and not have to have a contractor come out and build you a whole new gate when you just needed to get one of your braces upgraded. Ask if you have any questions.