Sometimes the easiest way to show how something works is to show what happens when it doesn’t.
Gate latch strikes and gate stops should be installed with optimal alignment for trouble-free operation.
To summarize the steps:
- Latch | Install your latch
- Strike | With the gate and post completely flush, install the strike plate so that the latch-arm is sitting in the center of the strike.
- Stop | With the gate and post completely flush, install the gate stop. This small item is the protector of your latch!
Step 2 Detail
This is how your gate latch-arm should look in the strike (when viewed from the side).
Step 3 Detail
Now onto the gate stop. Your gate and your post are totally flush. Your latch-arm is sitting in the strike. Push the gate stop flat against the face of the post so you know where its ideal position is. Mark screw holes, pre-drill, and install.
Why do we focus so much effort on a gate stop?
Because if it isn’t done right, your latch will bend or break.
During Step 2 (Install Strike Plate), the installer (photo below) didn’t have the gate and post flush. You can see marked in white the distance that the gate is set back.
When the gate is pulled forward to be flush with the post, you can see that the latch-arm doesn’t align with the strike plate.
The gate stop is firmly against the post in this position (correctly placed for Step 3). So the solution is to move the strike plate forward to proper alignment.
Both Step 2 and Step 3 have the ability to throw off an installation. One part could be perfect but the other is off. In this installation we see that the gate stop was placed exactly as it should have been. But the strike (previously installed in Step 2) was not.
Every time the gate was pushed closed, the latch-arm would run into the face of the post before the gate stop could stop the gate.
And then we see the resulting bend in the latch over a period of time.
Our Top 3 Tips
- Install the gate stop near the gate latch. Wood gates have a tendency to ‘move’ over time. If your gate stop is installed at the very top or very bottom of the gate, that may not be in plane with the area the gate latch is installed in.
- A few days after installation, check on everything again. Depending on the construction of your gate, your wood structure may “relax” a bit and require a tweak to achieve proper alignment.
- Enjoy a long-lasting gate latch installation!