The success of this simple, freestanding pet gate will depend on your dog. If you have a willful, no-fear dog – then they will likely charge this and topple it and think nothing of the loud bang.
But, if you have a dog that doesn’t challenge visual barriers – like our Miss Lacey – this is the perfect solution. It can be moved anywhere you need it without installation into walls or door frames and it’s open enough that your pet can still be with you visually, without actually being in your space.
Please don’t think I’m cruel. I love our dog SO MUCH. She is sweet and happy and so gentle that she lets the cat eat out of her dog dish without even pushing him away. She is an angel and we all adore her…
so much so, that even as she’s become more and more incontinent over the past year, we’ve continued to just clean up messes (several times a day).
Tests have been done and the vet believes it’s neuropathic damage in her lower spine. Nothing I can afford to fix (we’re talking well over $10k in surgeries), and since our girl is not in any pain whatsoever – we are just trying to find work-arounds.
Like a pet gate to keep some of the soiling out of certain rooms.
I still had some pressure treated fence boards in the garage, so I ripped them down to 1 ½” square lengths. This would be the nominal measurement of a 2″ x 2″ you purchase at a home improvement store.
The expanse I wanted to block was 6 ½’ wide, so I cut two lengths of wood at 36″ long and another two at 42″ long. This gives me an overall expanse of almost 8′ (when the hinge is included) and allows the freestanding pet gate to be bent/hinged in the middle to keep it upright.
The four boards that make up the sides of your pet gate sections will depend on the height of your balusters. Mine were old deck balusters that my Step-Dad had leftover after their dog passed away. A bit tall for my needs, but I wasn’t brave enough to attempt cutting the metal down.
The balusters will be inset into the top and bottom boards by ½” to ¾” deep.
To keep the baluster spacing equal, I marked where the side boards would be placed, then marked the middle point on two corresponding boards.
From there I just kept splitting the difference (centre point of the half, centre point of those sections etc) until I had a drill point that was roughly 4 ½” apart (5 ¼” on the 42″ boards).
Make sure the boards are lined up perfectly and then scribe a line onto both using a speed square.
I almost never use my drill press, so it was fun to get it out and play around a bit. Using a bit of scrap wood, I created a jig to run my board along. The jig is set with clamps at a point where my ¾” drill bit will come down directly in the centre of the board I’m drilling into.
From here it’s just a matter of setting your drill bit so that it won’t go any deeper than ½” to ¾” deep (mark the bit with a piece of painter’s tape so you know where to stop, or lower your table so that at full extension, the bit can’t go lower than that depth.
I’m sure I’m making this sound much harder than it is – and you really don’t even need a drill press at all. Mark a centre line down the length of your 36″ and 42″ boards, and then use a regular drill and ¾” spade bit (with painter’s tape marking your depth) to drill the holes where the centre line and your marked lines cross.
Insert the balusters into the pet gate top and bottom sections and then measure to figure out the length of your sides.
I like to sand before assembly to make my life easier so, with balusters out, I went over the entire freestanding pet gate with 120 grit sandpaper and then 220 grit on any areas where hands will be touching.
Re-insert your balusters then pre-drill and use wood glue and 2″ wood screws to attach the sides to the top and bottom boards – just a simple butt joint.
I found these cute wood corbels in my stash – I’d received them from Osborne Wood Products at a Blogging conference I’d attended in 2017. Not sure why I held onto them for so long – but I’m sure glad I did! They are so cute, and really give my freestanding pet gate extra rigidity.
I glued and screwed one on either side of the 42″ length of pet fence – this way I could still fold the pet gate relatively flat when not in use.
That’s really all there is to it. I decided to give our DIY pet gate a matching stain to our coffee table just to pretty it up a bit.
Some 1 ¼” wide hinges to fix it all together.
The balusters with the 5 ¼” spacing allow our chubby Mister Otis (cat) to easily get through.
Miss Lacey is still able to be close to the family, but my family room carpet is being saved from her daily accidents.
It’s not ideal – our situation isn’t either – but I think this option is functional and not entirely horrible to look at?
I didn’t have to buy a thing for this build, so I’m thrilled with the results, but if I were to make one from scratch the rough cost would be:
DIY Freestanding Pet Gate
- (~3) 2″ x 2″ x 8′ lumber = $6.09 ea
- (~14) ¾” balusters (48″ wood dowels are $4.51 ea, or pvc pipe is $8.51 for 10′)
- OR the metal deck balusters I used which are $49.51 for 15
- optional: corbels $24.88 US each
- Total with wood dowels = $85.92 CDN
- Total with pvc pipe (cut to 3′ lengths) = $43.80 CDN
- Total with aluminum deck balusters = $67.78 CDN
Add to this:
- spray paint (for the pvc pipe)
- wood screws
- wood glue
(all items that will be used in other projects and not completely consumed in the building of your DIY pet gate)
Okay, now let’s see what Amazon is offering: (affiliate links, for full Amazon affiliate disclosure, please see sidebar or bottom of the page)
For the least expensive option, check out my 100 year old post on repurposing crib parts to make a pet gate.
For me, a DIY version of this simple, freestanding pet gate was a no brainer – I was out $0 by repurposing old items that would otherwise have gone to landfill.
You may decide otherwise based on your “stash”, what’s available on Kijiji/Craig’s list and your time.
Have a great one!