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I have two staircases in my home. On one side is a metal spindle that is square in shape, probably 1.5" on each edge. The other side is the wall (drywall).

I've been doing research online only for now; I haven't had time to venture to a Baby's 'R Us to look in person. Does anyone know what my options are or which baby gate is the "best" for this setup? My 11 month old has a playroom at the top of the stairs and it's always tense when she suddenly takes off toward the stairs and my wife & I rush to get between her and the first step.

Any recommendations?

  • I don't know about best, but regardless of whatever type you have make sure it screws into the wall, and the wall is stable enough to handle the weight/pressure kids put on it. I have one on our basement stairs and its mounted so well it held me up when I almost slipped and grabbed onto the gate to stay up. – MichaelF Jun 15 '11 at 16:56
  • This is just one of those things that will take quite a bit of time to figure out. – Ken Liu Apr 6 '13 at 4:44
  • Have you thought about putting a gate in the doorway of the playroom instead? (Assuming it has one) You don't need to close the door to such a room and there are tons of gates that will work nicely in a doorway that would not work well on the staircase. Or, perhaps a conversion to a dutch door if you are willing to go to the expense and trouble. – balanced mama Feb 28 '14 at 13:36
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  1. Get a gate right now. Any gate. Go!
  2. Figure out later if another product is a more suitable replacement.

Since your child is apparently highly mobile, your worries should be in the above order. You have an immediate security concern, so it's not about the best right now. Most gates aren't that expensive that one can't afford to buy another one later - and the first could be reused in another location.

I'm not sure I follow your description of the staircase, but most gates need only very little width on the wall (or whatever surface it's secured to). They can be screwed into the surface, or placed into a plastic shape that is stuck to the wall using double-sided adhesive tape. Some can be opened using an integrated door, one can't.

We have different models in our home, and I've seen several other models in friends' homes.
They all work well.

Are you still reading this, or already heading for the store? :-)


Safe mounting of the gate:

  • On the drywall side, the gate should be screwed into the drywall. That is the only way to make sure it can't be shoved aside by a child; double-sided adhesive won't do because it won't stick securely to the wall paint.
  • On the metal spindle, screws will definitely work but I would hesitate with this solution because you can't easily close the screw holes when the gate is removed (on drywall, this is easy to do well). Still, they're a reliable last resort. See if you could use double-sided tape first though -- that would work provided that the gate applies outward pressure when closed, and provided that the gate has a significant mounting surface to ensure a solid hold -- two coin-sized patches are not enough!
  • What's the downvote for? How can I improve my answer? – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jun 6 '11 at 14:47
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    (I'm not the one that downvoted you, but...) your answer wasn't terribly helpful and amounted to "all gates are about the same". I don't disagree that any gate is better than no gate, but I've got a funny spot that I don't know how to attach a gate to and I was looking for a specific product or idea/example. – Dave Jun 6 '11 at 14:58
  • Fair enough. I was trying to address that with need only very little width... but I see your point. Let me see if I can make a photo of how our gates are mounted, it might help. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jun 6 '11 at 15:17
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    While it's a fairly accurate answer not all gates are the same, and mounting is going to be different depending on the wall. I took your answer in the spirit it's intended but I didn't find it as good as your usual answers are. – MichaelF Jun 15 '11 at 16:57
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    This answer is dangerous. A gate improperly fixed to drywall / pladterboard is not safe, and could create a sense of false security. The gate needs to attach safely to both drywall and to a metal spindle - these are two very different surfaces. – DanBeale Feb 28 '14 at 12:45
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I was struggling with this issue as well. Very few gates are suitable for top of stairs, i.e. pressure mount gates can be knocked out easily when applied some weight on top of the stairs and then you create potentially more dangerous situation plus from what you describe it is not even an option.

We ended up getting something like this (mounting was also a problem) , which I was not comfortable with at all as it seemed flimsy. But my son spent most of the time downstairs. Another option could be putting a gate in a hallway between the playroom and stairs if possible.

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For the top of the stairs, you'll want one like this, where the gate can be opened relatively easily. Otherwise, you'll tend to leave it open, and that defeats the purpose.

It's challenging to mount one well when you have drywall on one side and some kind of banister on the other side. You'll need to make sure it won't slip because the kid will eventually be hanging on it, every time you turn around.

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    Do not put pressure mount gate on top of stairs. From evenflo website(evenflo.com/sme_homesafety.aspx?id=336) Because pressure mounted safety gates use pressure and no hardware is required to install, they should not be used at the top of stairs to prevent injury. – jny Jun 6 '11 at 13:39
  • @jny: So he's going to drill it into the metal bar on one side, or the flimsy drywall on the other? Think about it for a second. You're going to have to MacGyver it either way, and experience tells me it'll be easier with a pressure mount to start from. – Satanicpuppy Jun 6 '11 at 13:54
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    He says that he has metal spindle 1.5" on each edge. It is too small for pressure mount gate - too easy to slip. – jny Jun 6 '11 at 14:31
  • @jny Yea, he's going to need to clamp it. – Satanicpuppy Jun 6 '11 at 14:58
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I fitted a Baby Dan Flexi Fit metal gate (http://www.babydan.com/page1073.aspx?recordid1073=176) at the top of our stairs and it has done the job well.

It's quite secure - you have to slide a locking bar back with your thumb then lift the gate. It will fit openings from 67 - 105 cm, and you can open it one-handed.

I did have to screw a couple of wooden blocks to the wall on the hinged side, but that was because the opening at the top of our stairs does not have flat surfaces opposite each other on both sides.

Hope that helps!

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Offering a dissenting opinion (your mileage may vary). A good friend of ours was a brain surgeon at Boston's Children's hospital. He would go ballistic every time he saw a gate at the top of the stairs. The number one reason kids ended up under his knife was climbing over a gate at the top of the stairs and then taking an extra long fall head first. This was way more of a problem than simply kids falling down the stairs.

In our case we didn't use any gates but had a nice thick fluffy carpet at the bottom of the stairs. Pretty much all the kids slipped, slid, tumbled down the stairs a few times but that's a part of learning and there weren't any injuries at all. If you need to close access for other reasons, put the gate at the bottom of the stairs.

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There are safety gates that can be rolled up. A quick search revealed that Lascal makes one, perhaps other companies do too.

A gate like that could be mounted in spaces where no other safety gate may fit.

‡ It's called the KiddyGuard®.

  • We've got these at the bottom of both our flights, they are magic in terms of fitting where nothing else will but at the top of a flight I suspect you'd be hard pressed to position one correctly so that a child sized gap can't be forced at the bottom. You'd have to be able to mount it a good few inches from the top step to be sure. Another thing I hadn't considered before buying is that the ratchet mechanism makes them difficult to open quietly, so not great if positioned near sleep areas. – Joseph Rogers Dec 15 '16 at 21:49

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