Introduction: How to Build Halloween Cemetery Entrance Pillars & Gate

Picture of How to Build Halloween Cemetery Entrance Pillars & Gate

In this Instructable I will show you how I built some pretty convincing Cemetery faux brick/stone pillars and gate for my yard haunt last year. I didn't create the wheel with this build and much of the inspiration and techniques I used were found and compiled from across the web. Pretty much all of the materials I used (except the plastic finials and torches) were purchased from my local Home Depot and Lowe's stores.

The great thing about this build is it is scalable to any size you want. I'm going to provide you with information on the supplies, tools and methods I used and with that information you can make your pillars any shape or size you want. They can be short or tall, skinny or fat. Whatever size meets your particular needs or motivation level.

What I liked most about this project is that I got to get my hands and mind onto a lot of different mediums to create it; from wood working, to foam carving/shaping, to pvc and painting. There are so many different ways these can look using the same materials. You are really on limited by your own imagination. I encourage you to get creative, have fun and haunt on!

Step 1: The Framework

Picture of The Framework

Supplies Used:

  • Uprights: 2x2's
  • Picture Frames: 1x2's
  • Shelf: 1/4" Sanded Plywood

Fasteners Used:

  • Sheet rock screws

Tools Used: Tape measure, pencil, mitre saw, drill, drill bits, Phillips head screw driver bit, framing square, right angle mitre clamp, countersink drill bit, level, clamps

I began by determining how tall I wanted the pillars to be. I wanted them to be tall but I also needed to be able to store them in my garage upright. Consider where you will store them when deciding on size. You'll be glad you did. I settled on approximately 6' in height. They would end up about a foot taller after adding the torches.

I wanted them to be as light weight as possible so I could move them by myself. Instead of going with 2x4's for the frame I chose 2x2's and 1x2's to keep the weight down. I spent a lot of time at Lowe's trying to find straight 2x2's. It was quite a task. I went through most of their stock to find (8) mostly straight 2"x2"x8' pieces. Same went for the 1x2's. If I can stress anything here, it's that you want these frame pieces to be as straight as possible. You are putting together a box that you want to be as square as possible. Any deviation, warping, bowing, etc in these frame pieces will only cause you frustration when you go to place the wallboard and styrofoam over the frame.

I started by measuring and cutting the upright pieces (2x2's) to length. I chose to make them 72" in length. I cut 8 of them to size on a mitre saw. These were cut at 90 degrees on each end.

Next I I moved on to measuring and cutting the "picture frames". These are the square horizontal frames that I would place at the top, bottom and middle'ish area to hold the uprights together. I used 1x2's for them. I made mine 17"x17" on the outside dimension. The ends were cut at 45 degrees angles on the mitre saw. You don't have to use 45 degree angles on the ends. You can use 90 degree angles and butt the pieces together if you choose. I used a right angle mitre clamp to connect the ends and keep them nice and square. I pre-drilled holes before using screws to fasten the ends together. Don't skip on pre-drilling holes before inserting your screws or you risk splitting the wood. It will split...often. Splitting may not be a big deal on 2x4's but it is on these smaller pieces. A split can and often ruins a piece. I also used a countersink bit to recess the screw heads as I planned to cover the screw heads. Then I inserted screws to fasten the pieces. I made 6 picture frames in total, 3 for each pillar.

At this point I had completed (6) picture frames made from 1x2's and I had (8) 2x2 uprights cut to 72" in length.

Now for the fun part (not really): putting it all together. I'd encourage you to have a helper on this part. I did it alone and was frustrated. This may not be the best way to do this, but this is how I did it. I placed one of the picture frames flat on the floor. I took one of the uprights, stood it up vertically and placed it on the inside corner of the frame. I held it in place and pre-drilled a horizontal hole through the picture frame and into the upright. I then used a countersink bit to recess the screw head and then inserted a screw. A helper would be good to hold the uprights as you fasten them. If you don't have a helper you can use clamps to temporarily hold the pieces in place. I repeated the process for the other 3 uprights. At this point my build resembled the attached PDF titled "Cemetery Pillars Uprights + Bottom Frame".

Next I slid the middle picture frame over the four uprights (with the four uprights within the opening of the frame) and let it drop down to the bottom. I didn't fasten to the uprights at this time.

I wanted to have a removable top piece for the torches and I wanted it to be slightly recessed so it fit snuggly in place and would be less inclined to catch a strong Oklahoma wind and blow off. In order to do that I chose to recess the pillars 3/16" of an inch on the top picture frame. To understand what I mean see the top of PDF titled, "Cemetery Pillars Uprights + Frames". To make this recess I cut a 3/16" piece of scrap plywood to a 14"x14" square. This is the size of the inside opening of the picture frames. I placed it flat on the floor, then I placed the last (top) picture frame over it. Then I turned the entire upright assembly upside down; placing the four uprights into the 4 inside corners of the top picture frame. I secured the top frame to the uprights the same as I had done with the bottom frame.

Lastly I determined where I wanted the middle picture frame to be. I measured and marked 25" up from the bottom on each of the uprights. I secured the middle picture frame section with clamps onto the uprights in the location of the marks and secured with screws.

At this point in the build my frame resembled the PDF titled, "Cemetery Pillars Uprights + Frames".

Once completed, I used some left over 1x2's to create cross supports on the inside of 2 sides of each frame. This provided a lot of additional rigidity to the frame. I also wanted a shelf inside the pillars so I placed a small piece of scrap plywood on top of the middle picture frame. If you make a shelf make sure the outside dimensions are within the inside of the uprights.

Step 2: Skinning the Frame

Picture of Skinning the Frame

Supplies Used:

  • 47.75-in x 7.98-ft Embossed Red Brick Hardboard Wall Panel (Lowe's)
  • Magnetic Cabinet Latches (Lowe's)
  • 2x2's
  • Stanley 2.5" Metallic Corner Brace (Lowe's)

Fasteners Used:

  • Finishing nails
  • Loctite Express Power Grab Heavy Duty Exterior Construction Adhesive
  • Small screws, machine screws, washers, locking washers, nuts

Tools Uses: Tape measure, pencil, framing square, air compressor, finish nailer, table saw, mitre saw, drill, drill bits, Phillips head screw bit, crescent wrench

In this next step I covered the completed frames with a brick veneer hardboard panel. It's pretty straight forward. The only real consideration for me was whether I wanted the brick veneer seems to be on the sides or the front. I opted for the sides. I felt those seems being visible on the front would take away from the real look of the brick.

To place the seem on the side, I started covering the sides first. I measured the opening of each side's top and bottom section (outside edge of one upright to outside edge of the other upright and from picture frame to picture frame). I then cut the brick panels with a table saw to get nice straight lines. Initial cutting of the 4x8 panels required a helper.

Once cut to size I attached the brick panel to the frame first with Loctite Constuction Adhesive and then followed up with finishing nails via a finishing nail gun. I used adhesive because I was using small finishing nails and I wasn't completely confident in their ability to hold everything together. I used small finishing nails instead of large nails or screws because I didn't want the nail heads to be visible in the exposed sections of brick where I would cut away foam. You can mitigate that by knowing which spots of brick you plan to show and by not placing any fasteners in that section but I hadn't though that far in advance yet. So I opted to use nails that would not really be visibleI and would allow me to decide later which sections of brick I wanted to expose. I repeated the process for both the top and bottom sections of the sides (not yet front and back) on both pillars.

So now that I had the sides attached I needed to attach the front and rear brick panels. I saved those for last for 2 reasons. First of all, by saving the front piece until after attaching the sides I was able to cover the seam between the side pieces and the front piece; placing the seem on the side and not visible from the front. That may not matter to you. I'm a "devil's in the detail" kind of guy and want props to look convincing in the daylight as well as at night so I pine away over these silly little details. Secondly, I wanted the backs to be removable so that I could place sound, lights, electrical, or whatever else inside the pillars if needed.

Next I measured, cut and attached the front upper and lower brick panels to each pillar. Lastly I measured and cut the upper and lower brick panels on the rear. I made both the upper and lower panels removable on the rear. I placed a small piece of 2x2 at the top and bottom inside of each of the rear panels as a guide and to better secure them in place. Next I used magnetic cabinet latches. These would serve to snap the rear panels onto the pillars and hold them in place. I placed 4 magnetic latches on the inside of the uprights (2 on either side) of each of the top and bottom openings. I then attached the metal plates for the latches to the appropriate spot on the inside of each of the back brick panels. I used both adhesive and small screws to attach the metal plates (they come with small screws). I adjusted the latches until the back panels fit snuggly up against the uprights.

I didn't get a photo of this but at this point I attached (2) 2.5" metal corner braces to one side of the brick veneer in the vertical center on each pillar. These would be the structural connections for where my gate would attach to the pillars. I used flat head machine screws, washers, locking washers and nuts to secure the corner braces to the brick veneer. For your reference, I placed them at 1' and 4.5' up from the bottom of the pillars.

So you might be wondering why I've provided detailed drawings and measurements for the frame but not for the brick veneer (or eventually the styrofoam). The reason is, that no matter how hard you try, your frame will most likely not be perfectly square. Your veneer pieces may end up being wider or longer on one end than the other. It's difficult to find 2x2's that are perfectly straight. It's tough to get everything to square up just right. I didn't want to provide measurements, have you cut them to size and find out your pieces do not fit correctly. It's best if you build your frame (whether the same size as mine or your own size) and custom fit the brick veneer and styrofoam. Just measure each side and cut. Don't assume that the top of the measurement will be exactly the same as the bottom or that both sides will match. When measuring for the brick veneer and styrofoam take all 4 measurements for each piece (top, bottom, both sides) then cut. You'll get a much better end result.

Step 3: Adding Styrofoam Sheathing

Picture of Adding Styrofoam Sheathing

Supplies Used:

  • Dow .78-in x 8-ft x 4-ft Styrofoam Residential Sheathing (Lowe's)

Fasteners Used:

  • Loctite Express Power Grab Heavy Duty Exterior Construction Adhesive (Lowe's)

Tools Used: Pencil style soldering iron (cheap-o), yard stick, tape measure, pencil, table saw, razor blades, utility knife

Just like with the brick veneer panels, I measured and cut the styrofoam to fit each section. And just like the brick, I wanted the seams to be on the side, not the front, so I started measuring and cutting the sides first. That way the front piece would overlap the sides and cover the seam from the front.

So I started out measuring and cutting all of the pieces. I marked them on the back as I went along to keep track of where they went. I couldn't just cut each piece and place them on immediately like I did with the brick because I planned to make some holes and cut out damage sections in the styrofoam. I might have cut the styrofoam after it was placed on the brick but I was certain I would incidentally damage the brick veneer that way. Remember, I'm a details guy. I wanted the brick to look real, not have cut lines in it. So I precut every piece and marked them.

Once all the pieces were cut and fit properly, I began the process of distressing them. I held 2 adjacent pieces at time up onto the pillars and drew on the foam where I wanted to place the damage. I did 2 pieces at a time because a lot of my faux damage was going to be on the corners and I needed to make sure my broken lines matched up.

Once the damage spots were marked, I cut them out. I used a cheap-o pencil style soldering iron to make the damage cuts. It cuts through the foam quickly and the heat hardens the cut edges of the foam, making it more resilient. They make hot wire cutters specifically for this purpose but they are expensive and I didn't have one at the time. Make sure if you are cutting styrofoam with any hot electrical type cutter, you do so outdoors or in a very well ventilated area. Cutting foam with heat produces fumes that are not healthy to inhale. You can cut the foam with an exacto knife or utility knife as well, to avoid the dangerous fumes.

Once the pieces were distressed to my satisfaction I used Loctite Construction Adhesive to glue the styrofoam to the brick veneer.

Step 4: The Tops

Picture of The Tops

Supplies:

  • 1/4" Sanded Plywood
  • Table Top Flame Light (Spirit Halloween)

Fasteners Used:

  • Machine screws, washers, nuts
  • Zip tie

Tools Used: Tape measure, pencil, table saw, screw drivers, crescent wrench, drill, drill bits

For the removable tops, I measured the top openings and cut 2 pieces of 1/4" sanded plywood to fit. I decided to place a Table Top Flame Light on the top. I first had to re-route the power cable on the lamp. It was coming out of the side of the lamp and not the bottom. I didn't want the cord showing, so I re-routed it out the bottom of the lamp.

I placed the lamps in the center of the top plywood covers and routed the power cable down through the wood. I used a zip tie to secure the power cord so that it could not be accidentally pulled out from the lamp. I secured the lamps to the plywood with 2 machine screws, washers and nuts.

I drilled a finger sized hole in the back center of each of the plywood covers to make lifting them up and out easier. Also, since the tops are removable, I can turn the lamps over and place them inside the columns when storing them. Also, I guess I could make other toppers for the columns if I get bored with the lamps or if they break.

Step 5: Handles for the Rear Removable Panels

Picture of Handles for the Rear Removable Panels

Supplies Used:

  • 1/8" galvanized uncoated metal wire rope

Fasteners Used:

  • 1/8" aluminum ferrule and stop set

Tools Used:

  • Wire cutters, pliers, drill, drill bits

The removable back panels proved very solid with the magnetic latches. So much so that I had trouble getting them off without damaging the foam. They needed handles so I whipped up some quick pull handles using metal wire rope and aluminum ferrules and stops.

First I crimped aluminum ferrules onto the wire rope making a single finger hole. Then I drilled holes through the back of each removable panel and placed the wire through the hole. I placed a stop on the wire end to prevent it from being pulled out.

Step 6: Trimming It Out

Picture of Trimming It Out

Supplies Used:

  • 1/4" sanded plywood
  • Picture Frame Moulding (Lowe's)

Fasteners Used:

  • Loctite Express Power Grab Heavy Duty Exterior Construction Adhesive, Finish nails

Tools Used: Tape measure, pencil, framing square, table saw (or circular saw), air compressor, finishing nailer, ratcheting cargo straps, bungee cord

I really wanted to start the finishing process at this point but I just didn't feel like they had enough detail yet to do so. So I thought I would add some wood trim around the top, bottom and middle sections.

I cut 3" and 5" wide strips out of 1/4" sanded plywood with the table saw and placed them on top of the styrofoam. I initially glued them with the Loctite adhesive. This adhesive was great for this. It has a quick grab and things stay in place well. Just in case I used some ratcheting cargo straps and bungee cords I had laying around to hold everything in place.

Once it was all dry I came back and added some finishing nails to the outside edges when I had a solid 2x2 underneath.

I also placed a picture frame moulding on the front of each pillar. The frames were broken (cut) to match the underlying damage in the styrofoam. The moldings were attached with Loctite adhesive and finishing nails. I have seen other haunters use these frames on their pillars and they add a really nice touch.

Step 7: Finishing Moves

Picture of Finishing Moves

Supplies Used:

  • Lightweight Joint Compound (Home Depot)
  • Wood filler
  • Zinnser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer
  • Acrylic Paint: Offwhite, white, black,
  • Spray bottle
  • Sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Sand

Fasteners Used: None

Tools Used: Paint brushes, paint roller, wide and narrow putty knives, painting sponge, electric sander, air compressor.

Finally reached a point that they will start to look like something worthy of Halloween. Time to finish these things.

I didn't use any type of hardener or weatherproofing on the outside of the styrofoam. The reason for this is we place these in the driveway and I don't put them out until Halloween day. They are out one day and then back to storage. I have several signature props that I just didn't have a good way to weather proof. So I don't place those props out until the day of Halloween. Also, I've spend so much time and money on many of these props that i don't want to leave them out for vandals to damage. It's kind of fun that way but demanding. Our full Halloween display goes up Halloween day and comes down the next.

These can be fairly easily weatherproofed and hardened, however. If you plan to make pillars you want to leave outside for long stretches, I'd recommend using some type of foam hardener, then painting, and finally sealing and weatherproofing. Also, you wouldn't want to use the flame lanterns if you plan to leave these out in all types of weather.

I knew up front I wanted to dry brush the surface of these. Dry brushing is such a great way to give depth and age to a piece. However, dry brushing works best with a rough, textured or cratered surface. Dry brushing doesn't look like much on a smooth non-porous surface, which is exactly what the outside of the pillars looks like at this point.

To give the surface a nice texture, I chose to texture it just like you would a wall. I thought, if they are to look like stone, why not stucco? It is common to see stucco over brick in older construction so that is the look I decided to go for.

I used lightweight joint compound and I applied it with a wide putty knife directly to the styrofoam. I applied it to all of the styrofoam surfaces. I then filled all of the recessed screw holes and finish nail holes with wood filler. I allowed both the dry completely. I sanded with an electric sander all of the putty filled holes. I had to fill and sand them down several times to make them nice and smooth.

Once everything was dry and sanded, I lightly hit all around the outside of the pillars with compressed air to remove all loose dust from the joint compound and from sanding. Use low pressure if you do this. It is easy to damage the styrofoam or knock off the dried joint compound.

I covered the brick veneer with painters tape where it met the styrofoam so I could adequately paint the edge of the styrofoam without getting paint on the brick hard board. I rolled on Zinnser Primer over the entire exterior of the pillars (except the brick veneer). I had to use a paint brush to get into the nooks, crannies and recessed damaged areas. I let that dry and I placed 1 more coat of primer on it and allowed that sufficient time to dry.

I wanted the trim pieces to be off-white and have a stone appearance. I mixed off-white acrylic paint with sand to give it some texture. I used a lot of sand. I painted the mixture onto the plywood trim pieces at the top, bottom and middle.

Then it was onto dry brushing. Dry brushing is a technique where you apply paint from an almost dry brush. It works really well and adds a lot of depth if you use 3 colors for piece. The base coat should be the darkest color and you apply it normal, it is not dry brushed on. For may piece the dark gray primer will serve as my dark base coat. I mixed a lighter gray color with the black and white acrylic paints. For dry brushing you apply the paint to the brush and then you use something like newspaper, cardboard, paper, paper towel, etc and you apply the paint onto the surface of the newspaper until the brush is almost completely dry and very little paint comes off of it. Once the brush is dry you are ready to apply it to your piece. You lightly glide the dry brush across your piece focusing on the high points of the texture or surface. You are not trying to get paint into the recesses, just the high points. If you use a light touch, you will do just that. I dry brushed the light gray on the pillars. Once the paint had dried, I dry brushed the 3rd color over the top. I used white.

For the dark dripping lines, I used very watered down black acrylic paint and sprayed it on with a spray bottle. I sprayed it across the top and let it drip down on its own. I went across the middle and bottom as well.

I used black acrylic paint to darken the faux cracks.

Step 8: Engraved Stone Plaques

Picture of Engraved Stone Plaques

Supplies Used:

  • Foamular 1-in x 2-ft x 2-ft Styrofoam Project Panel Insulation Sheathing (Home Depot)
  • Copy Paper
  • Painters Tape
  • Printing Paper
  • Acrylic Paint: Black, Brown and White

Fasteners Used:

  • Loctite Express Power Grab Heavy Duty Exterior Construction Adhesive

Tools Used: X-Acto Knife, Computer, Printer, Paint Brushes

I wanted to place stone plaques on the front of the pillars. I found a border for the plaques that I liked online. I scaled it to the size that I wanted and printed it on plain printing paper. I taped the paper with the border on it onto a piece of 1" thick styrofoam with painters tape. Using an X-Acto knife, I carefully traced the outline of the border onto the styrofoam by cutting along the border's edge down through the paper and into the styrofoam. Once the outline was complete, I removed the paper and carefully extended the outline cut down through the styrofoam until I had cut all the way through.

After the plaques were cut out it was time to place the lettering on them. To do this, I used the same technique that I used to cut out the plaques. Using Microsoft Word I found a font that I like and typed the words that I wanted to display on the plaques. I scaled them to the size that I wanted and printed them out on plain printing paper. I aligned the paper on the front of the styrofoam plaques and taped it in place with painters tape. I carefully ran the X-Acto knife along the border of all of the letters cutting down through the paper and into the styrofoam. This traces the letter outline into the styrofoam. Once the outline was cut into the styrofoam, I removed the paper and tape and discarded it. Next, using the X-acto knife I deepened the cuts into the letters and began removing the Styrofoam inside the lettering. When deepening the cuts I angled the blade so that I was making a "V" shaped channel inside each one. This gives a nice look and makes for cleaner removal of the styrofoam inside the letters.

A note about cutting styrofoam with a razor blade: To get the best results, you always need to be using a sharp blade. Styrofoam dulls a razor blade ridiculously fast. Before you start a project like this make sure you have a lot of razor blades and change them out frequently. Just for these two plaques I think I went through something like 8 blades. A dull blade will tear the styrofoam instead of cutting it, giving you a sloppy result.

After the lettering was complete and I was satisfied with the look of each letter, I was ready to paint. I painted a black base coat with acrylic paint. I realize now reviewing this that I probably should have primered these before painting. I didn't. 2 years later and no peeling, so I guess it's ok. These go out for 1 day a year and not in bad weather so it's not a problem for me. After the black base coat, I dry brushed a dark brown acrylic paint over it. After dry, I finally dry brushed acrylic white paint. The white paint I only brushed on in one direction to give it an aged shadowy look. It worked nicely below the lettering.

After it was all dry, I placed them on the front of the pillars with the same Loctite Construction Adhesive I have used throughout the project.

Step 9: Cemetery Gates

Picture of Cemetery Gates

Supplies Used:

  • 1/2" PVC Pipe (Home Depot)
  • 1"x2" Wood strips (Home Depot)
  • 1" Plastic Finials (eBay)
  • Black Spray Paint (Was-Mart)
  • Acrylic Paints: Black, Brown and Orange (Wal-Mart)
  • 2' metal rebar (Home Depot)

Fasteners Used:

  • Sheetrock Screws

Tools Used: Measuring Tape, Pencil, Drill, 7/8" Forstner (or Spade) Drill Bit, PVC tube cutter (or saw), drill bits, Phillips head screw bit, hammer

Since this will be the entrance to our yard haunt I wanted to add gates to the pillars for people to walk through. There are a lot of great Instructables and instructions online by other haunters on how to build a cemetery fence or gate. I pretty much followed the techniques I found online for building these.

I used 1x2's for the cross members and 1/2" PVC pipe for the bars. I used 1" plastic finials I purchased on eBay to top the PVC.

First I determined how long I wanted the gates to be. Once I settled on the length of the gates, I decided on approximately how far apart I wanted each PVC pipe to be from the others. I settled on approximately 4" apart. I didn't want the PVC pipe on either end to be 4" from the end of the 1x2 so I placed the starting piece and ending pieces just 1.5" from the end of the 1x2's and separated the rest of the pipes by 4". Actually it was a little less than 4". I Calculated equal spacing between them across the span of the 1x2.

Once I had all of my measurements, I laid them out on the first 1x2. I drilled 7/8" holes down the center of the 1x2 at each of my markings. 7/8" is the perfect size for the PVC to fit snugly through. After the first piece of 1x2 was completely drilled, I used that piece as a template for the rest. I positioned each subsequent uncut piece of 1x2 underneath the drilled template and used the drilled holes in the template as a guide for the remaining pieces. I chose to have 3 crossmember for each gate, so I had to drill 6 1x2's in total. Using the first piece as a guide really helped all of the holes to line up properly when I got to assembling the gates with the PVC and made the job go smoothly. I can imagine this part could be quite a pain if your holes don't line up properly all the way down.

I cut my PCV pipe to the desired height. I chose to have the bars get higher as they moved towards the center of the gate. I raised each one an inch as I moved toward the center. To assemble I attached the bottom crossmember to the lower corner brace I installed in step 2 with a machine screw, washer and nut. To do this I had to drill small hole for the screw n the end of the 1x2. I placed the 1x2 on top of the corner brace and placed the screw down through the hole in the 1x2 and then through the center hold in the corner brace. Then I added a washer on bottom and a nut. I repeated this step with another 1x2 on the top corner brace. Now I had 2 crossmember attached to the pillar. I placed the first PCV pipe down through the holes closest to the pillar. I didn't want the pipes sitting on the ground because most gates don't sit directly on the ground so I placed a 1x2 underneath the PVC to keep it from going all the way down to the ground. Before secure screwing the PVC pipe to the 1x2, I needed to square everything up so I then placed another PVC pipe on the opposite end of the 1x2's. This pipe was going to be the only pipe that rests on the ground, to support the weight of the gate. I made this pipe long enough to go all the way to the ground. I used a level to square everything up. Once it was all level and square I drilled small pilot holes through the backside of each 1x2 and into the PVC. Then I used drywall screws to secure the PVC pipe to the 1x2. Again, if you don't drill pilot holes for your screws you risk splitting the 1x2 and ruining a perfectly good piece.

Once both end bars were secured in place and I had the basic structure in place and square I added the 3rd 1x2 cross member at the top. I used a level and measuring tape to get it in place. Once I was happy with it's placement I secured it to the pipes on either end with drywall screws as before.

Now I added the remaining PVC pipe to each hole and secured it with drywall screws at each spot that the PVC went through the 1x2's. I used a 1x2 spacer on the ground beneath each one as I added them to keep them an equal distance from the ground. I repeated this process with the other gate.

I added 1" plastic finials to the top of each PVC pipe. I secured them in place with a drywall screw placed on the backside of the gate. I pre-drilled pilot holes though each finial and PVC pipe before placing the drywall screws.

To paint the gates, I removed them from the pillars. I placed a plastic drop cloth on the ground in my yard large enough to cover the grass from any spray paint overspray. I drove a couple metal bars (2' rebar) down through the plastic into the ground with a hammer. The rebar would be used to hold the gate up while painting. To place the rebar, I stood the gate up in the spot I wanted to place it and drove the rebar down where the 2 end PVC pipes would slide over the rebar. I only drove the rebar down about a foot, leaving a foot sticking out and then I slid the PVC down over the rebar to hold the gate up.

I started out with a base coat of black spray paint. I used a flat black primer for the base coat. I used a lot of paint for these two gates. A lot more than I thought I would. Something like 4 or 5 cans. There is a lot more surface area than you would expect. After the base coat was dry, I used acrylic paints (black, brown and orange) to give a rusting effect to the gates.

Step 10: Adding a Solid Base, Some Additional Color and Moss

Picture of Adding a Solid Base, Some Additional Color and Moss

These columns were a huge hit last year and set a really great atmosphere to our yard haunt. However, we had an extremely windy Halloween last year and one of the pillars was knocked over by the high winds. For some strange reason I never put a solid bottom on the pillars. I had left the bottoms open. I found out the hard way last year that with the opening I had left in the bottom, I didn't have a way to place weight in the bottom which ultimately resulted in the fall. Fortunately I didn't really suffer too much damage from the tip over but I want to prevent that from happening this year. To remedy that situation, I placed a 3/4" thick piece of plywood on the bottom of each pillar closing up the bottom. Now I can place weight in the bottom if needed. I made the plywood bottom 18" x 18" and I've added it in the frame drawings I included with this build.

Also, this year I added some green acrylic paint and hobby moss to the outside of the pillars to give them more of a realistic (hopefully) weathered look.

Thanks for watching. I hope you found some useful tips in here to help you with your next Halloween prop build.

Comments

jarame (author)2017-09-23

Thanks all for the kind words.

SusanH75 (author)2017-09-21

This is totally awesome. Love it.

DonBloomer (author)2017-09-21

Looks great!

I could not find plastic finials for less than a dollar each, (with shipping). Most were much more. So I went with toy planes. (I will try to add a photo.) Six for one dollar.
I also added paprika to look like rust.

jarame (author)DonBloomer2017-09-21

Nice job! Never thought of paprika but it is def the right color.

JohnD316 (author)DonBloomer2017-09-21

Great idea on the paprika. I will have to remember that one. Cayenne might be good also for those who want to lick the gate.

JohnD316 (author)2017-09-21

Excellent job and it has given me a myriad of ideas on additions. Speakers built in to the columns with pre-recorded creaky hinge sounds that work on a microswitch when the gates are opened or closed. Screaming and howling from them as well. Could all be battery powered by a couple of heavy car batteries in the bases for added sturdiness. Great job.

OnAngelsBreath (author)2017-09-21

Nice work! Love it!

ianobre (author)2017-09-21

Awesome!

Lone Ninja (author)2017-09-21

Well done, perfect!

NickC236 (author)2017-09-21

great job absolutely positively realatistic!

HollyHarken (author)2017-09-21

Blown away!

wold630 (author)2017-09-18

Very nicely done! It looks fantastic. :)

Lorddrake (author)2017-09-13

A+ work

Jedi_zombie85 (author)2017-09-13

These are great, fantastic work

jarame (author)Jedi_zombie852017-09-13

Thanks!

Swansong (author)2017-09-12

This looks amazing! I've been looking at fencing ideas for our graveyard for a while and I love this :)

jarame (author)Swansong2017-09-12

Thank you!

About This Instructable

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Bio: Father, husband, drummer, fledgling guitarist, small business owner, Halloween fanatic that loves working with my hands.
More by jarame:How to Build Halloween Cemetery Entrance Pillars & GateMonster-In-A-Box Halloween Prop (Part 1, The Box) or just a good pallet boxMonster-In-A-Box Halloween Prop (Part 2, The Guts)
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