Prevent injuries to your child by properly installing a safety gate at the top of your stairs.

How to Mount a Gate at the Top of Stairs

by Crystal Bonser

Toddlers seem to be irresistibly drawn to things that are dangerous for them, and with their increased mobility, they can scoot to spots like the top of a staircase faster than Mom can keep up. According to the owner of Safety Mom Solutions, a baby-proofing company, staircase safety gates are the most important piece of baby-proofing equipment a home can have. When installing a safety gate at the top of a staircase, a hardware-mounted model is essential. Pressure-mounted gates may be easier to install, but they can loosen over time, and a determined toddler can figure out a way to dislodge them.

1. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

1 Measure the width from one wall to the other at the top of your stairs.

2. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

2 Purchase a safety gate in the appropriate size, one with a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) Certification Seal. The box will indicate what size openings the gate will accommodate.

3. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

3 Tape the hinge mounting template that came with your safety gate against the wall on which you want the hinged side of the gate to sit. The bottom of the template should be flush against the floor.

4. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

4 Press the tip of a pen or pencil through the screw holes on the template to mark where you need to screw holes in your wall.

5. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

5 Remove the template from the wall.

6. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

6 Drill 2-inch holes using a 1/8-inch drill bit into each location that you marked in Step 4.

7. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

7 Hold one hinge right-side-up against the drill holes and attach it to the wall using the screws that came with the gate and a manual screwdriver. Tighten each screw and repeat with the other hinge.

8. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

8 Tape the latch mounting template against the wall on the opposite side of the staircase, making sure the bottom of the template is flush against the floor. Depending on the brand of safety gate you purchased, the latch mounting template may be separate from the hinge mounting template, or the two may be combined on the same template.

9. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

9 Press the tip of a pen or pencil through the screw holes on the template to mark where you need to screw holes in your wall.

10. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

10 Remove the template from the wall.

11. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

11 Drill 2-inch holes using a 1/8-inch drill bit into each location that you marked in Step 9.

12. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

12 Hold the latch right-side-up against the drill holes and attach it to the wall using the screws that came with the gate and a manual screwdriver. Make sure to tighten each screw.

13. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

13 Adjust the width of the safety gate according to the width of the staircase if necessary. Although each brand of safety gate differs, most have two panels that can be detached and screwed back together at different points to accommodate openings of different widths.

14. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

14 Screw the safety gate into the hinges on the wall using the screws that came with the gate and a manual screwdriver. The space between the wall and the gate should be no wider than 3 inches.

15. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

15 Screw the stop brackets to the hinges using the screws that came with the gate. Make sure the raised edge of the stop brackets face the stairs to prevent the gate from opening over the stairs.

16. Top-of-Stairs Safety-Gate Installation

16 Test the strength of the baby gate by leaning on it to ensure it is attached securely.

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • JPMA-certified hardware-mounted safety gate with stop brackets
  • Masking tape
  • Pen or pencil
  • Power drill
  • Manual screwdriver

Tips

  • If the area at the top of your stairs has a banister on one side, attach the gate's latch to the banister and the hinges to the opposite wall.
  • Teach your child how to safely walk up and down the stairs as soon as he starts trying to climb the safety gate.

Warnings

  • Do not use a baby gate with a wide mesh design -- it will be too easy for a toddler to climb. Opt instead for tight mesh, solid plastic or vertical bars that are no more than 6 inches apart.
  • Keep the area around the safety gate free of toys or other items that your child could use to climb up and over the gate.
  • Never use a safety gate that opens over the stairs -- a child could push through the gate and fall down the stairs.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images