A Bracing Situation

Living in New England one constantly comes across all sorts of architectural woodwork, and it is interesting to compare approaches to the same sort of structural problem. Take gates and doors for instance. One area in which I notice considerable variation in the arrangement of parts is that of hinged doors with diagonal braces.

There is the ‘X’ form type:

There is the ‘Down’ brace type, this example fairly recently built and serving as the entrance to a graveyard:

Note that the brace travels down from the hinged side of the gate/door to the opposite corner. Here’s a variation on that type:

And then we see the ‘Up’ brace type, in which the brace moves from the lower hinge on up to the opposite corner. Here’s an example, taken from another graveyard entrance:

And a variation on that theme:

There are a few other variations to be seen on these three types of course, but they distill down to these three types: ‘X’, ‘down’, or ‘up’.

The question is: which type of bracing, in a hinged gate/door, is the best from a structural perspective? Or doesn’t it matter, is each method is as good as the other?

On the 12th of this month, or shortly thereafter, I’ll return to this topic and explore these questions in detail.

Go to part II.

2 Replies to “A Bracing Situation”

  1. Here where I am attitudes & approaches are much more disciplined, on a general level, than in the US. This is obvious to me because I am from the US and not from here. You see this in traffic on the roads and in construction styles which have strong and ingrained regional distinctions. Building a door or gate other than with the brace stemming up from the hinge side would be seen as a measure of incompetence which I would agree with. Ellis says it another way, “The braces should be placed so that their lower ends are at the hanging side, for if the opposite direction, they will be useless to prevent the door racking….”
    Don Wagstaff
    Oostrun/ Ee

  2. Mr. Wagstaff is correct. I learned that as a first-year apprentice building hoarding, but it's common sense – the other way, you're actually making the sag worse by weighting the gate down. Likewise the X-bracing, which isn't quite as bad, but you still have extra weight on the gate that isn't contributing any strength, and most modern exterior-grade hinges are flimsy as hell to boot. For a supported structure that needs to be as strong as possible, then the X is the way to go, if possible, of course.

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