One of my goals for 2013 is to update our porch. We got a new door installed and I purchased some comfy outdoor furniture, so progress is definitely being made. We're still in the throes of choosing a paint color for the door, but this weekend I was able to check another big item off the list: build a gate for the dogs.
You see, the dogs are not very fond of being left inside while we're sitting on the porch. And although Stella listens to us pretty well, Barley is a runner. We've tried tying their leashes to the railing or a stake in the yard, but they still try to chase bunnies and tug as if trying to get loose. And we learned the hard way that Barley will chew through a leash if left unattended. We determined that we needed a way to keep them on the porch with the ability to roam a bit. We're all happiest when they just relax in the sun instead of constantly trying to escape.
For the past month or so we've been using an old door propped over the porch entrance to keep the dogs contained. It worked, but it definitely wasn't ideal. It was always dangerously close to falling over, the dogs were constantly trying to see over it, and it was ugly as sin. I'm a firm believer in "use what you have", but even I couldn't find a way to make this thing work for the long-term.
I wanted something that looked nice, was easy to use, and could be stored on the porch without being in the way. The opening is 6 feet wide with a full-length column reaching to the porch roof on one side and a 3-foot tall knee wall on the other. I didn't have much luck online, so I decided to just head to Home Depot to look around for ideas. And ideas I found!
It turns out that fencing and deck rails are often sold in 6 foot segments. I saw lots of options including lattice, aluminum, wood, and even pre-fab gates that are made to be adjustable up to 6 feet wide. I decided against the gate because it'd be too big to swing open completely. (I didn't want to have to leave it over the entrance at all times.) The lattice was the least expensive option, but it wasn't sturdy enough. I knew the dogs would try to stand against it and wasn't sure it'd hold their weight well. And although the aluminum rails were the most permanent-looking, the posts were too far apart...Stella (and possibly Barley) could have easily slipped through them.
The best option turned out to be a 6 foot section of wooden deck railing that stood 3 feet tall and had rails spaced about 4 inches apart. It was the perfect size and very sturdy. And the $30 price tag seemed quite reasonable to me.
It is made of pressure-treated wood so I primed and painted it with white exterior paint. (The same stuff we used on the exterior window and door trim.) I'm hoping this is good enough to protect it from the elements.
To assist in getting the gate in place and then tucked away when we're finished with it, we attached casters to the bottom. It will be stored against the knee wall just to the side of the entrance, so we only need to slide it out and back (ie no turns.) I opted for rigid casters instead of swiveling ones to help streamline the movements.
It's not able to stand on its own, and just propping it up isn't safe enough for the pups. In order to keep it from tipping over, we attached a hook and eye closure on either side. Since the wheels can't rotate out, this arrangement keeps the whole assembly tucked tightly against the walls.
And then after we slide the gate back into its resting place, the hook on the right slips into the eye from left side for a little more stability. Otherwise it's resting against the rail/propped up behind the furniture. I'll probably add another eye on the other side to make it more secure while being stored, but it's working well for now.
Here's the budget breakdown:
- 6 ft deck railing: $30
- primer and exterior paint: already owned
- 2 hook & eye closures at $7 each: $14
- 2 2" casters at $2.50 each: $5
- wood screws (to attach casters): $1
- Total: $50
What do you think? Can you tell our dogs are spoiled? I think it's great. Stella is already comfortable hanging out out there alone...as long as there is sunshine to lay in.
Update: Apparently Stella can get through the bars if there is a cat in our yard taunting her. Boo!
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