Installing a fence, whether it’s wooden, PVC, or metal, is a great way to secure your yard and maximize privacy. Bonus: It’s usually DIY-friendly. But one thing that many DIYers fail to realize is that their fence is only as secure or functional as the gate latch.
For those looking to get the most security and function possible from their fence, only the best gate latch will do. These devices keep the gate shut while allowing the residents to pass through with relative ease (after unlocking, of course). With that in mind, read on to learn more about choosing the best gate latch for your fence.
- BEST OVERALL: SANKINS Self-Locking Gate Latch Heavy Duty Post Mount
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aiwaiufu Post Mount Gate Latch with Black Finish
- UPGRADE PICK: YARDLOCK Keyless Gatelock (MBX-2016Y-3ESF)
- BEST THUMB LATCH: Gate Thumb Latch N109-050 by National Hardware
- BEST FINGERTIP: D&D Technologies LLAA LokkLatch
- BEST FOR CHAIN-LINK GATES: Jake Sales -Chain Link Fence Butterfly Gate Latch
- BEST FOR LARGE GATES: Special Speeco Products TV206691 2Way Gate Latch
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gate Latch
Shopping for a gate latch is easy—once you’ve done your research, that is. To help you out, the following is a collection of the necessary need-to-know information. Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind while shopping for the best gate latch for your fenced-in yard.
Types of Gate Latches
There are many types of gate latches, each of which works differently while serving the same purpose: to keep the gate secure and closed. Here’s a rundown of the most common types:
- Thumb latches feature a traditional style handle with a thumb-activated push button. The handle typically mounts on the outswing side of the gate. If they lock, they usually lock with a key like a traditional doorknob.
- Ring and lever-style gate latches are pretty old-school, but they can add a nice touch to a rustic garden. Ring-and-lever latches feature a ring that’s attached to the end of a lever. When the user lifts and twists the ring, the other side of the lever lifts, clearing the catch that holds it in place. These gate latches rarely lock.
- Bolt latches operate by sliding a bolt-like latch into a catch. These gate latches are very common and are easy to lock with a padlock.
- Fingertip release models have post-mounted latches that either operate with gravity or a spring; finger release latches catch the pin and hold it in place so the gate stays shut. To open, push the top of the catch open to release the pin. These models typically lock with a padlock, but there are models with key-controlled tumblers as well.
Gate latches are available in several different materials. The most common material used for gate latches is powder-coated steel, which is a low-cost but relatively weather-resistant choice. You’ll also find zinc-plated steel or iron, which is usually found in chain-link fence gates. Upgraded hardware options might include stainless steel or even bronze, both of which are more resistant to corrosion than steel or iron.
The different materials aren’t just for weather resistance. Many shoppers also choose a particular set of hardware (the gate latch, hinges, and the screws to mount them) for a certain look or aesthetic.
Gate Frame Shape and Type
Fences and the gates that secure them come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, tall fences might benefit from a particular latch style, while lower fences might do better with another. Also, some garden gates are built from wood, which features right angles and flat surfaces. Chain-link fences, on the other hand, use round metal pipes. The hardware for one won’t work for the other, so you’ll have to choose the appropriate latch for your gate.
Also, consider that some gates are actually two swinging doors that meet in the middle. The hardware for these gates needs to offer a way to latch the two sections together.
If security is a concern, consider buying a gate latch that includes a lock or at least a method to attach a padlock.
The simplest models (which are typically bolt-style) provide an eyelet that the user can slide a padlock through, holding the bolt in place. More advanced designs can include built-in combination locks, allowing users to punch in a code and unlock the gate from the outside. Some other models may feature keyed tumblers—similar to those found in standard locksets.
Do keep in mind that the majority of the security a fence can offer comes from its height, so the most advanced model might not necessarily be the best gate latch for your fence.
Some gate latches are easier to install than others, and choosing the correct model might hinge a bit on that point. For instance, bolt latches tend to be very easy to install: Just attach the bolt housing to the post-edge of the gate, close the gate, and install the catch that receives the bolt on the gate. In general, this takes six screws.
Other models, such as thumb-activated latches or latches with built-in combination locks, require the user to drill through the gate and align the hardware properly on both sides of the fence. Most of these kits come with templates to follow, but it’s worth noting that the installation process is more involved.
Whether a fence is wood, metal, or PVC, it’s likely to shift a bit between the seasons and temperature changes. Also, as a gate ages it will likely sag a bit. For that reason, the best gate latch for a particular application might include a degree of adjustability.
Some gate latches offer both vertical and horizontal adjustments, and they can really come in handy as a gate ages. For instance, as the gate sags and the pin drops, users can loosen a few set screws and lower the latch itself without removing the entire hardware set from the post and drilling new holes.
Tips for Buying the Best Gate Latch
Not all gate-latch hardware is rated for outdoor application. Raw metals like steel will rust and corrode, and they’ll only last a season or two. It’s important to find hardware made from materials that will last, like stainless steel or bronze, or metals with protective coatings such as zinc plating or powder-coat paint.
When you’re shopping for the best gate latch, be sure to keep the other gate hardware in mind. You’ll want something that matches the look and feel of the hinges and any decorative bracketry. Match black hardware to black latches, and bronze or antique hinges to similarly aged latches.
Use two-way latches for large gates, such as those used for livestock or moving vehicles and trailers. These latches allow the gate to open inward or outward, allowing for more flexibility.
- Choose outdoor-rated latches for optimal weather resistance.
- Match the latch hardware to the gate hinges and brackets.
- For large gates used for livestock or vehicles, consider using a two-way latch that allows the gate to open inward or outward.
Our Top Picks
That might seem like a lot of information on gate latches, but the following list of products should help streamline the shopping process. It consists of some of the best gate latches on the market, and there is something for almost any situation. Be sure to keep the top considerations in mind when comparing these latches to one another.
DIYers looking to add both security and functionality to their fence gate should check out the Self-Locking Gate Latch Heavy Duty Post Mount Latch from SANKINS. This model has a gravity and spring-loaded mechanism that automatically latches shut when the gate closes, providing peace of mind for yards with children and pets. There is an eyelet that a user can pass a lock through for the most security, keeping the gate securely latched.
This gate latch is powder-coated steel and features coated hardware for durability and weather resistance. It also installs easily, as it features built-in brackets for registering against the post and gate perfectly. Also, the 3.5-inch pin offers some degree of adjustability during extreme weather changes.
Anyone hunting for a self-latching post mount gate latch at a reasonable price should give this model from Aiwaiufu some consideration. This budget-friendly latch features a spring-loaded gravity latch that secures the gate automatically. It also has a fingertip release, allowing for easy but secure opening and closing.
This latch features a powder-coated steel design that will resist the ill effects of the elements. It also features an eyelet to receive a combination lock or a padlock for more security. Just beware that the pin features a pressed design, which is less resistant against force or bending than other models featuring welded construction.
For the ultimate in convenience and security, be sure to check out YARDLOCK’s Keyless Gatelock. This fingertip-release latch features a combination lock on the outside, allowing users to unlock their gates from either side. Simply enter the code and pull down on the lockbox; there’s a steel cable attached that lifts the latch on the other side, providing secure access. There is also a shroud that covers the cable on the inside to prevent nefarious characters from defeating the lock.
The YARDLOCK Keyless Gatelock features powder-coated steel for the latch, while the combination lock is a mix of composite materials and zinc, providing years of weather resistance.
For an age-old, timeless look, check out the Gate Thumb Latch N109-050 from National Hardware Store. This model features a simple thumb-activated design, with the handle on the outside and the latching lever on the inside—a classic design.
This powder-coated gate latch will hold up to the rigors of outdoor exposure, providing years of use. Installation is relatively simple, as the long lever provides a bit of wiggle room when locating the catch. It’s suitable for gates between 1 and 3 inches thick. However, there isn’t an effective way to lock this latch, so adding a gate lock might be a wise idea.
When it comes to convenience, it’s hard to find something to beat D&D Technologies’ LLAA LokkLatch gate latch. This latch features a simple fingertip release as well as a keyed tumbler, making passage an easy, straightforward proposition. It installs just as easily, requiring just a few screws.
The LLAA LokkLatch features industrial-strength polymers, allowing it to resist rust and corrosion for long-lasting use. If the weather affects the gate, though, this lock has both vertical and horizontal adjustability. Simply loosen the set screws from the base and adjust it according to how much the gate sagged or moved.
Gates in chain-link fences require specially designed gate latches like this model from Jake Sales. This latch attaches in seconds, requiring just tightening the nuts on the U-bolt to hold it in place.
This latch features galvanized steel construction, allowing it to withstand weather and outdoor exposure. There are two latches, allowing the gate to swing inward or out, depending on the situation. While these latches aren’t automatic, they do latch using gravity. For those who would prefer to keep their chain-link fence locked, there’s an eyelet underneath the unit to slide a pad or a combination lock through to keep the latches from moving.
Large, heavy gates have a way of wearing through normal hardware. For large livestock fences or vehicle yards, Special Speeco Products 2Way Gate Latch might be the way to go. This model features robust construction, with thick powder-coated steel and zinc-plated hardware.
This gate latch is designed to attach to pipe-framed gates, though it can adapt to square materials. The two-way design allows users to push the gate in or pull it outward, allowing livestock or vehicles to move naturally without backing up or getting in the way. There is also an eyelet to attach a combination lock or a padlock, keeping the latch from opening until the lock is removed.
FAQs About Gate Latches
Even with all that background on the best gate latches, there might be some new questions popping up. The following section aims to answer those queries, as it’s a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about gate latches.
Q. Can all gates use gate latches?
Yes, all gates can use a gate latch, but not all gate latches work on all gates. Some require specific designs.
Q. How do I install a gate latch?
The easiest way to install a gate latch is by attaching the hardware to the gate first, lining the closed gate up with the post, and attaching the catch on the post. All it takes is a pencil for marking the holes to drill, a power drill and drill bits, as well as a screwdriver or driver bit for the power drill.
Q. What side should a gate open?
Typically, gates should open inward toward the space. This is a tradition held over from gardens in populated cities, where outward swinging gates could strike a passerby.