Safety gate reviews: Features explained
Types of stair gate
Metal or wood
These are usually 'walk-through' gates with a side-or centre-opening swing door. They are flexible and convenient.
Retractable mesh or fabric gates
These are less common. They attach at one side of the lintel and stretch across to the other side. They're most useful if you have a particularly awkward gap to bridge.
Removable travel barriers
These are handy for holidays or when visiting friends. They are made of mesh stretched across a frame. However, as they don't open, they're more suited to occasional than long-term use.
This fitting is anchored to the wall with metal screws. Good for use at the top of stairs as there is no frame, so no tripping hazard. It is probably the sturdiest fitting type but it will leave holes in your wall once you’ve removed it.
This gate or barrier is held in place by pressure at four points. Some have a disc that you rotate by hand, others are fitted using a spanner. The gate sits in a frame that doesn’t move. It’s better for your walls than a screw fix but the frame can be a trip hazard.
Pressure (mesh barriers)
Doesn’t sit in a frame, and completely comes away from the wall when you release the pressure. Useful for travel but inconvenient for daily use as difficult to assemble. On the plus side, mesh barriers don’t damage the walls and are quick to remove but they are tricky to put in place.
Many stair gates can be opened with one hand. This is very convenient if you are carrying laundry or a cup of tea upstairs.
Pressure-mounted gates are held in place by outward pressure. Pressure gauge indicators ensure the gate is fitted correctly - if a strip of red can be seen then there isn't enough pressure. If yellow can be seen then wall cups must be used.
Some pressure-mounted gates come with plastic cups that can be fixed to the wall to hold the spindles in place. This will make the gate more secure.