I have an awesome sunroom that we recently installed a backdoor in. The sunroom has a door so it can be shutoff from the frontroom and kitchen, but my older son is almost always in the backyard and it is summer so I like to keep the backdoor open so I can hear him and therefor like to keep the sunroom door open as well. I also have a 9 month old who crawls everywhere and seems to be drawn to the stairs. I needed a baby gate that allowed me to keep the dogs in the sunroom, my infant in the front room, but allowed easy access back and forth for my toddler and everyone else. And was it too much to ask that it was visually appealing as well?
I looked at so many of the standard metal baby gates you find at all the stores, but these just weren’t appealing to me. Not only are they not the prettiest things on the planet, the ones with walk through gates the gates are too narrow and the cost. OUCH! My solution was to make my own. This project was incredibly easy (much easier than I thought it was going to be) and I had all the materials laying around so cost me $0 and about 1 hour of time!
There are a few times I get into projects I think will be easy, but get in over my head and have to have my husband finish or fix them. I was a little worried this might happen with this project, but honestly it was so easy, so no husband help was needed. Don’t be intimidated by this project!
DISCLAIMER! So I forgot to take pictures as I was doing this so the pictures you see are a quick mockup I set up. This is not the wood I used, but it helps give you a visual.
– wood (I used wood from a torn apart wood pallet) You can use 2×4’s but these are pretty heavy and won’t have the barnwood look so try to keep your wood a depths of 1″ or so and the more worn or older the wood the better, in my opinion.
– lock mechanism
– saw, drill, measuring tape, pencil, sander
– paint brush and stain
Start by measuring your opening. My total opening was 36″ wide so I went with a width of 35.5″ for my gate. You will also need to decide how tall you would like your gate. This is totally up to you. I went with 30″ because this was the perfect height for my toddler to be able to reach over and lock/unlock the gate, but still tall enough my dogs couldn’t jump over it.
Once you have your measurements you will need to cut your wood to size. If you don’t already have your pallet torn apart or wood in pieces now is the time to do that. I would love to give you some secret helpful hint on tearing apart pallets, but I don’t have one. I hate doing this and usually ruin more boards than I save 🙁 So, do what you can and get the boards you need. You will need at least 4 boards for the frame, 1 to go crossways, and then however many you need to fill in your space in-between in my case it was 4. Make sure all boards are nail, staple, metal free (these items are no good for saws and you don’t want to risk tearing up a blade).
Once you have your boards it is time to measure and mark your boards and cut them to size. I like to place the boards how I will have them when finished so I know what I am doing (I am an extremely visual person). Measure your boards and cut them to length. I use a miter saw my husband has, but you can use a handsaw or whatever you have. Make sure to wear safety glasses and take all the appropriate safety measures and such.
If you are using old pallet wood your wood is probably pretty rough. Since the wood was going to be touched and handled a lot I didn’t want everyone getting slivers so I used a hand sander and did a quick sand of all the surfaces and edges. This also helped to age the wood a bit.
Once all your boards are cut to size and sanded lay them out how they will be and start screwing them in place. I didn’t measure the distance between my interior boards because honestly I didn’t care much if it was perfect. I eyeballed it and it turned out fine.
Now that your gate is built you will need to put on your hinges. I scrounged some old hinges off a chicken coup door I took off forever ago, but you will probably need to buy some at a store. I used hinges that allowed me to open my gate all the way back so I could lock it open if I wanted. If you are doing this in a doorway (which most likely you are) you will need to buy hinges that fit inside the doorjamb so you will need some smaller ones. Hinges are pretty easy to install and varying depending on what kind you use, but just be sure to measure and keep them even and you should be fine.
Once Hinges are in place put on the lock mechanism you want. I again scrounged a mechanism off the same door I took the hinges off of. There are a ton of different options for locks so you will just have to find the one you like best at the store.
Now that your gate is done you can leave it the way it is and enjoy it or you can choose to stain it. Mine wood was pretty sun bleached and not as dark as I wanted so I used some walnut stain and a paintbrush I had and satined it. I wouldn’t recommend staining it in place (which is what I did). It was really messy and a pain. Take the gate off, take it outside and stain it there, it will be much easier. Allow your gate to dry completely before rehanging.
All done, now you can just enjoy your gate. I love ours and it fits in so much better with our rustic farmhouse styled home than the store bought gates would have. And total bonus, thanks to scrounging, this project was totally FREE! If you don’t have all the materials you still should only have to spend around $10 or less for a custom barnwood baby gate!