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Baby & child.

Updated: 22 Apr 2022

Best stair gates 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Choose the best stair gate for your baby and home with our guide to different types available and what to look out for.
Sabrina Sahota
Child behind stair gate

The key purpose of a stair gate is to keep your curious toddler away from anything that might cause them harm, including flights of stairs and busy kitchens with hot pots and pans.

All the stair gates have to meet the requirements of the relevant safety standard to pass our testing, which ensures they're sturdy, and can withstand the various shakes and rattles of a determined child.

However, the very best stair gates won't just be secure and safe. They'll have simple instructions for a straightforward installation, and they'll be easy to open and close.

These five stair gates got the highest scores in our tests, and are all Best Buys, so you can be sure they're a good option when it's time to pick out your safety gate.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table. If you're not yet a member, sign up to get instant access.

Best stair gates to buy

  • 83%
    • best buy

    This unique pressure-fit stair gate aims to provide a safety barrier that's less of an eyesore. It's got some really useful features to make it easier for parents to use, and it survived our tough impact and pressure tests. Read the full review to find out which safety gate this is.

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  • 82%
    • best buy

    This unique pressure-fit stair gate claims to be fast and simple to install, with a one-handed operation for parents. Read our full review to find out if it lives up to expectations.

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  • 82%
    • best buy

    This stair gate is mounted to doorways using screws, and the manufacturer claims it can fit openings from 69 to 106.5cm. We've sent it to the lab to be checked and tested, including whether the gate can withstand the tough shakes and rattles of a determined toddler, making it safe to use. Read the full review to find out how it coped.

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  • 81%
    • best buy

    This stair gate is a pretty basic screw-fit safety gate that's made from one panel. While it may lack some of the extra features you get with other stair gates, it's still got one-handed opening and locking, and a wide walk-through section. Read the full review to find out what this gate is like to install, and how it help up during our strength and durability testing.

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  • 80%
    • best buy

    This beech stair gate is fitted using screws. This means there's no bar along the bottom of the gate to trip over, but will you be scratching your head when reading the instructions and setting it up? Read the full review to find out.

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When to buy a stair gate

Get a stair gate as soon as your child starts to show signs of crawling or using a baby walker to get about. They'll soon be moving faster than you realise.

Types of stair gate

The type of gate you choose will depend on its purpose and where you are putting it.

Major brands include BabyDan, Lindam and Safety 1st and Kiddyguard. Their stair gates tend to be constructed of wood, metal or fabric mesh, and they can be fitted by screwing them into the wall or by pressure fit.

A wooden or metal stair gate that 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.

A retracting or concertina stair gate could be the answer for areas with restricted space or if you want the gate to disappear when not in use.

Stair gates at the top of the stairs should open towards the landing, not towards the flight of stairs, as you could fall forwards while opening the gate. You should only use screw-fit gates at the top of the stairs.

How easy is it to open and close the stair gate? 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. Some stair gates close automatically.

Consider the space you're covering – a particularly wide opening will limit the options available to you, but you can buy wide gates or extensions.

We've found stair gates that have failed our tests because of safety issues.

How much do I need to spend?

This depends on what style you want and the width of the space you're closing off. 

A simple, cheap stair gate can cost as little as £10 to £15, but if you want something more stylish, or that has to fit an unusual space – such as a narrow stair gate or an extra wide stair gate – it could cost up to £100. 

Compare all our stair gates reviews to find the best that suits your budget.

Pressure-fit stair gates

The gate sits within a fixed U-shaped frame that 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're easier to install and won't leave holes behind
  • Extra features on pressure-fitted gates can include alarms to signal that they haven't been shut and 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 shouldn't be used at the top of the stairs.

See our reviews of pressure-fit stair gates.

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's 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're removed.

See our reviews of screw-fit stair gates.

Mesh roller stair gates or concertina stair gates

These types of gate can be retracted when not in use so they're less obvious. They're usually either made of heavy-duty mesh which rolls up like a window blind, or hard plastic that folds in on itself like a concertina fan.

 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
  • Some lack structural strength

Wooden stair gates

Wooden stair gates can be either pressure-fit or screw-fit. You may decide to opt for a wooden stair gate if you have a particular style of decor in your house and you want the stair gate to match.

Travel stair 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.

What to do with your old stair gate

Once you no longer need your stair gate, first off consider whether you might want to hold onto it for another use such as keeping a dog out of a kitchen. 

If pets aren't on the horizon, you could try selling the gate on an online marketplace. Just be sure to check there are no areas where the gate has weakened from one too many shoves or rattles by a determined child or pet.

If possible, sell the gate with the original instructions and all fixings. This is usually easy enough if you have a screw-fit gate. 

For pressure-fit gates that use wall cups and adhesive pads that hold the wall cups in place, make sure you include spare sticky pads or screws so it can be installed that way.

Stair gates are difficult to recycle as they're usually made from a mixture of metal railings and plastic fixings. 

However, you could take it down to your local recycling centre to see if it can be recycled. Otherwise, it will need to go to your council waste centre to be properly disposed of.

Dog gates for stairs

Lots of people use safety gates as dog gates for stairs and to keep pets in or out of certain rooms.

Some stair gates also come with a small door inset into the gate if you want to let a smaller pet through while keeping large people and dogs out.

We test all stair gates with an impact test where the gates are hit with a 25kg weight (that's roughly the same weight as a small female labrador or a large springer spaniel), three times to see if the gate comes loose or breaks.

Some gates pass this test, but some come loose after a couple of further hits.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some dog gates are not appropriate for babies, as they may have horizontal slats that your baby might use to climb up and over the gate, or small parts that can fall off and be a choking hazard. 

If you're planning on getting a dog (but a baby could also be on the horizon), you're best choosing a baby stair gate that holds up in our tests as then you'll know it will be suitable for protecting both.

Find out more about how we test stair gates.