Safety Gate Guide and Tips
Safety gates are one of the most important items needed to properly baby proof or pet proof your home. They are essential at stairways to prevent falls, but can also be used to segregate rooms or areas, create barriers, and to surround a fireplace or wood stove. Safety gates come in many styles, sizes, and designs, and it can be somewhat difficult to find the best safety gate for your specific needs. This Safety Gate Guide will define the different types of gates available, the different mounting types, and the steps needed to find the perfect safety gate.
Safety Gate Types
There are three basic types of safety gates available:
- Standard Width Safety Gates are the most common and fit openings from 24″ to 48″ wide. They can be used in doorways, at stairs, at wall openings, or in corridors. They can be made wider with extensions.
- Extra Wide Safety Gates are used to baby/pet proof big open spaces such as large living rooms, a large foyer, or a large kitchen. They have a basic width, and can be made wider with optional extensions to fit almost any width needed.
- Specialty Safety Gates are designed to address special or irregular installation conditions or to barricade a specific type of hazard like a fireplace.
Safety Gate Mounting Types
Hardware Mounted Safety Gates attach permanently to the adjacent walls, posts, or railings with screws and hardware. They are the most secure safety gate and are recommended for the top of stairs. When installing a safety gate at a stair make sure it does not swing out over the stairway, but swings away from the stair. Most safety gates can be setup this way. Hardware mounted gates must be solidly attached to wood trim, wood posts or the wall studs behind drywall or plaster walls. Often times a gate mounting kit may be needed where there are no wall studs, where there are wrought iron railings, or where wall baseboards interfere with the gate hardware. See page “When to use a gate Mounting Kit” for more information.
Pressure Mounted Safety Gates are quick and easy to install and remove, and do not require any tools or drilling. They are recommended in doorways, wall openings, or to segregate rooms, but not for use at stairs because they are less secure. Most pressure mounted safety gates can be made wider with optional extensions. Pressure gates push against the adjacent walls with pressure pads and have a bottom bar for rigidity. The pressure can be adjusted for a secure fit, and some some models have a pressure gauge showing when the correct pressure is reached.
Free Standing Play Yards or Play Areas are often very useful for segregating your little one when other gating options do not work. Play yards can be used indoors or outdoors and provide a safe play area. They come in standard sizes, some have gates, and most can be expanded with optional extensions.
Safety Gate Design and Finish
Safety gates come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and finishes to complement the many styles of home decor. Metal safety gates are available in white, black, aluminum, bronze and other colors with straight tops, arched tops, and other features. Wood safety gates come in natural, oak, cherry, and other colors in varying designs. There is also a retractable mesh safety gate available. You must balance the finish choice with the cost and size needed to determine your perfect safety gate.
Steps in Selecting a Safety Gate
- Location: Determine your safety objectives and determine the best location to place gates to reach that objective. You may have to re-consider your options if a gate will not work where you want it to. Example; it may be better to gate a hallway leading to a stair rather than the stair top or bottom if the stair has a rounded or unique shape or is especially wide.
- Size: Use a measuring tape to accurately determine how wide your safety gate needs to be, and if you need extensions. You may also need to see if your gate will fit vertically under railings or obstructions.
- Features: Safety gates have various options such as foot-pedal operation, auto-close or retracting door, and other options which you may want.
- Mounting: Figure out if you will need or desire a gate mounting kit for special conditions. You can get gate mounting kits for wood banisters, wood balusters, wrought iron railings, and walls with baseboards or without studs.
- Finish: Choose a color or finish which you think will work best in your home.
Safety Gate Tips
- Choose a gate that is JPMA or ASTM certified (All that we carry are certified).
- Always follow the manufacturers installation and removal instructions.
- Avoid gates with large square or diamond mesh, babies can climb on them, or pinch their fingers.
- Always secure the gate latch when leaving the area.
- Avoid using old second-hand gates that may be worn out or are not up to current safety standards.