Stair gates: How to buy the best stair gate
- Find a stair gate which ensures your child is safe within your home
- Types of stair gate explained
- Check the Which? safety gate reviews to find Best Buy safety gates
When to buy a stair gate
You'll need stair gates as soon as your child is on the move, which could be from seven or eight months old - and it’s a good idea to have them in place before that. They are designed for children up to around the age of two.
You will probably need to put one gate at the bottom and one at the top of the stairs. You can also buy barriers or gates to stop children entering areas of your home such as the kitchen.
Choosing a stair gate
The type of gate you choose will depend on its purpose and where you are putting it.
Major brands include BabyDan, Ikea, Lindam and Mothercare. Their gates tend to be constructed of wood, metal or fabric mesh. Look for a stair gate which conforms to the standard BS EN 1930:2000.
Prices range from around £15 for a basic metal gate up to around £90 for a mesh roller gate. Choose a Which? Best Buy stair gate to ensure you are getting a model which scored well in our rigorous lab tests.
Stair gates features to consider
A wooden or metal gate which is side-opening will need quite a bit of room to swing open into, so you need to think about whether this will cause any obstructions, or be awkward to navigate around.
Stair gates at the top of the stairs should open towards you, not towards the flight of stairs, as you could fall forwards whilst opening the gate.
How easy is the gate to open and close? You don’t want your toddler to be able to flick the mechanism open with ease, but at the same time, you may also need to be able to open and close the gate with a wriggling child under one arm.
Consider the space which you are covering – a particularly wide opening will limit the options available to you.
Types of safety gate
Pressure fit stair gates
The gate sits within a fixed 'u' shaped frame which is held in place by pressure at four points. Extensions are often available if your doorway or stairway is wider than average.
They can be made of wood or metal. If the pressure is insufficient, then wall cups can be used to increase the security of the fixing.
- There's no need to drill or screw these to the wall, so they are easier to install and won't leave holes behind
- Additional features on pressure-fitted gates can include alarms to signal that they haven't been shut, or auto-closing mechanisms.
- The frame can be a trip hazard as the 'u' shaped frame means a rail runs along your floor. For this reason, they should not be used at the top of the stairs.
Screw fit stair gates
These are fixed to the wall with metal screws and can be made of wood or metal. You need to measure up carefully before buying your gate as you may need to buy extensions.
- Very strong, sturdy fitting
- There's no rail at the bottom, so no trip hazard. It is recommended that screw fit gates are used for the top of the stairs.
- They do involve some DIY and will leave holes behind once they are removed.
Mesh safety roller gates
Made of heavy duty mesh, these work in a similar way to a roller blind so can be retracted when not in use. They need to be screwed into the wall.
- There's no frame to trip over
- Discreet when retracted
- Can be good for wide openings.
- They can be tricky to install
- Can be as much as twice the price of wood or metal gates.
Travel safety gates
These are made of mesh, don't sit in a frame and completely come away from the wall when you release the pressure. They act as barriers rather than gates.
- They can be useful for travel as they fold up and are light to transport.
- Not the best option for daily use, as they have to be put up and down every time you go through them.