How we test stair gates
By Olivia Howes
Which? combines safety and ease of use testing to ensure the stair gate you choose helps keep your baby safe from hazards at home.
Our testing is fully independent and combines strength, safety and durability tests with an expert assessment of how easy the stair or safety gate is to use.
Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about stair gates including:
- How long does the stair gate take to put up?
- Is the gate easy to use every day?
- Will it withstand repeated attempts to force it open?
- Will the gate damage your walls?
Find the Best Buy stair gates in our stair gates reviews.
How long does the stair gate take to put up?
Our experts assess how skilled a DIY-er you'll need to be as well by assessing the instructions, what tools you need and whether they're included, as well as recording the total amount of time it took to put together in our lab.
Is the stair gate easy to use every day?
Our expert assessors look at the things that will make or break how easy the gate is to use on a daily basis. These include:
- How good is the latching mechanism and can it be opened and shut one-handed, necessary when you've got a wriggling child under one arm?
- Do additional features such as auto-close actually work?
- Does the gate pose a trip hazard - pressure fit gates usually have a bar across the bottom - the thickness and height of this bar can affect how easy the gate is to walk through?
- Can you clean the gate easily?
Will the gate withstand repeated attempts to force it open?
Your stair gate may need to withstand the force of a toddler throwing a tantrum or boisterously bouncy dog. We test beyond the safety standard by applying an impact of 25kg rather than just the 10kg required and if there's any movement or weakening of the gate, we tell you about it.
We also open and close the gate repeatedly to make sure that there's no weakness in the locking mechanism.
And we fit the gates at their minimum and maximum width to check it's safe to use them in all positions. If you can extend the gate beyond a safe point, we'll let you know.
These are just a few of the numerous safety checks that we carry out to make sure your stair gate does the job it's supposed to do.
Will the stair gate damage my walls?
If you are renting then this may be a particular concern. Screw-fit gates will, by their nature, leave a mark on your walls but so too will some pressure-fit gates as you might need to use adhesives. We make sure you know if the damage is something that you need to seriously consider.
Should I buy it?
After analysing all the data we get from the lab, we give each stair gate a total test score so you can easily compare what makes the best and worst models.
79%What a stair gate needs to score in our tests to become a Which? Best Buy
The score ignores price and is made up of:
- 70% safety
- 5% instructions and packaging
- 5% removing the stair gate from the wall
- 15% opening and closing
- 5% installation
To become a Which? Best Buy, a stair gate must score at least 79% overall in our tests.
Find out which models scored highly enough to become a Which? Best Buy stair gate.