Hardware used on fences and gates can be confusing, making it hard to find
the right replacement–but you just have to know a few tips.
Our family recently moved into our new home, a lovely Victorian that most would classify as a “fixer-upper.” As a DIY weekend warrior, I classify it as a dream come true, as it’s given me lots of wonderful home improvement projects to delve into on nights and weekends. But the big obstacle for me is finding the right replacement parts and hardware items. What’s more, I have the added challenge of trying to find parts that match the style of my home.
I felt especially out of my element when I went outdoors to fix up the fence and gate because this hardware is unlike most other hardware that you’ll find inside your house. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the king of hardware identification, and with a fence or gate, there are so many brackets, bolts, wood ties and other parts that I’ve never worked with before.
After some research and a few hardware store employee interrogations, I’ve developed some useful tips to help others who are taking on this type of project and need help identifying the parts they need for their DIY project.
Finding the Right Fence and Gate Replacement Parts
It’s important you set out with the right information as you buy replacement hardware for your fence. Ideally, you should be able to identify the parts that you need by name, but in cases where this isn’t possible, take a photograph and gather some key information. Info such as the dimensions, style, the number of holes and any other descriptive information should be noted. Try to get the following info before you set out to shop for fence replacement parts.
- What is the name of the part? “The thingie that attaches the doohickey to the whooziewhatsit,” just won’t fly. You need to know the exact name of the part you need, and that can be a challenge if you don’t have building or handyman-type experience. Looking through online shops that sell fencing hardware and timber bolts and screws can help you identify the part you need. If you can’t find a name for a part, do your best to get an understanding of what that part does. Snapping a photo of the part (and its location on the fence or gate) can also be helpful if you need to ask someone for help.
- What is the length and width? Hardware dimensions are important, as there can be dozens of minute variations. So make note of the length, width, thickness and any other relevant dimensions. In the world of hardware, you can have size differences as small as 1/8 or even 1/16 of an inch. It can be impossible to detect this difference visually unless you compare the parts side by side, so don’t estimate; measure and get precise dimensions for any parts you’re looking for.
- What is the screw/bolt/hole diameter? The diameter of bolts, screws, and holes (in brackets, plates, etc.) can vary a lot, so it’s important to make note of the precise diameter if you’re replacing these items. This way, you won’t end up with screws and bolts that don’t fit your hardware. Remember, when measuring the diameter of something circular, like a bolt or screw hole, measure at the widest point. Additionally, if you’re seeking to replace metal wood ties, hinges, or other hardware with pre-drilled bolt/screw holes, make note of the hole diameter, the number of holes, and the positioning and distance between the holes. There can definitely be some variation with this, so you’ll want to be sure you get a replacement part with the same spacing.
- Does the hardware come in multiple variations? Nuts, bolts, hinges, and screws are examples of hardware that can come in a few different variations. For instance, there are wing nuts, hex nuts, and t-nuts, among other styles. So in addition to performing basic fence hardware identification, you’ll also need to determine the specific style or type of each part.
- What is the color and style of the hardware? Aesthetics matter, as you want to maintain an element of consistency throughout the structure, whether it’s a fence, gate, or pergola. So make note of the hardware’s color and style so you can seek out replacements that will match. This is especially important if you’re replacing some but not all hardware components. You’ll regret it if you try to put a stainless steel latch on a gate that’s outfitted with black metal hinges. Some hardware also has a distinctive style in terms of the way that it’s shaped and crafted. For instance, some companies make lines of hardware that are decorative, as well as being durable and practical–this type of hardware is a lot of fun to install on your gate or fence, but you’re want to make sure it matches what’s already there, or that you replace all the hardware. If you’re seeking to replace wrought iron components, you may choose to switch to black, powder-coated steel hardware. It looks similar to wrought iron, but it’s far more durable and corrosion-resistant, particularly if you buy it from a trustworthy manufacturer.
More Tips for Buying the Hardware You Need
You’ll also find that taking a photograph of the part you’re trying to replace can be helpful, whether you’re shopping online or headed to a local home improvement store. This way, you won’t have to rely on your memory.
If you’re trying to choose between two pieces of hardware and are unsure which one is the one you need, I’ve found it’s better to buy both and return the one that I don’t need. (Of course, you’ll want to verify that the store or e-tailer accepts returns!) This way, your project isn’t held up because you don’t have the hardware you need to proceed.
OZCO Building Products has become one of my go-to sources for fence and gate hardware that’s stylish and tough. They have neat, unique decorative accents that I’m eager to add to a gate I’m replacing (with one of my personal favorites being their clever speakeasy gate insert which doubles as a doggy look-out port.) They also have some wonderful inspiration for DIY-ers like me, with their detailed project plans (and accompanying materials lists.)
Their team of experts has also been extremely helpful in helping me identify those “mystery fence parts” as I rebuild portions of my home’s “vintage” fence. They have virtually everything you might need, from nuts and bolts, to brackets, wood ties, rafter clips, truss base fans, truss accents and more. If you run into any questions while picking out hardware for your next build, just reach out to OZCO’s team for help and advice. They understand the weekend warrior mentality and can help you get your gate or fence project finished and looking amazing.