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I am planning to replace a wooden garden gate which has rotten over time. Lacking much experience myself, my first thought was to copy the existing design. However, I don't know who made it or what their qualifications were, and I wasn't able to find any information online about the specific method of bracing used, so I'd like to ask the question here: Is the bracing method used for this gate a valid method or not?

Rotten garden gate

When searching online, it seems like most people will recommend a single diagonal brace from the top left going down to the bottom right (the right being where the hinges are) whereas some would recommend a cross brace. However, I haven't come across a brace like the one in the gate I have.

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    We can't really tell you if this bracing is valid because we don't know what it represents. It looks OK but really, what's it like? Bracing is not just about adding diagonals, a great deal has to do with how it/they are tied into the overall structure. So two identical-looking gates could represent v. good or v. bad examples if the 1st e.g. used mortise-and-tenon joints, glued and pegged, but in the 2nd the diagonals were just fixed in place with some ungalvanised nails at each end. In addition, how well everything is tied together is of vital importance as per @Ashlar's point in his Answer.
    – Graphus
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 17:08
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    I don't know, but the original brace seems to have been effective long enough to allow the gate to rot over time.
    – gnicko
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 2:56

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Both diagonal brace options should work. The key thing here is to make the entire gate work as a single beam. The challenge is that the gate is composed of individual pieces only secured at the top and bottom with a few nails/screws. This allows the entire gate to rack out of square with the only resistance being at the T & B connections of the slats. By adding the diagonal(s), securely connected to each slat, the gate will now act like a single panel with the racking stress transferred to the hinges. However, now the gate will want to pull away from the post at the top. The force pulling it away is increased by the wide width and weight of the gate itself. The solution here is to ensure that the hinges are strong enough and well secured to the post. Likewise, the post must be large enough and with a substantial foundation to prevent it from rotating with the force of the gate.

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  • Thank you for the insight here. I'd considered the slats to be purely decorative but you explanation has made me understand how the slats will actually work in conjunction with the diagonal braces to support the overall struccture.
    – Joseph
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 7:49

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