Archive for Monday, December 17, 2012


Fix-It Chick: Wall-mounted safety gates best for stairwells

December 17, 2012


A properly installed safety gate is a great way to contain pets or protect children. Many safety gates are held in place by tension, but for stairways and frequently trafficked areas, a wall-mounted gate works best.

Step 1: Measure the width of the opening where the gate will be installed. Ensure the mounting surface is structurally sound before proceeding. In stairwells, gates should be mounted at the top of the stairway or on top of the bottom step. Gates should swing out away from the stairs, not over the stairs.

Step 2: Purchase a gate that will fit the opening and is right for the intended application. Accordion-style gates should be used for pets, not children. Gates used for children should have appropriate safety latches. Make sure the gate is designed in such a manner as to discourage climbing by active toddlers.

Step 3: Begin by assembling the gate, per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Locate the mounting hardware template and mounting hardware. If the gate will be mounted onto a wall, use a stud finder to ensure that hinge screws will be centered into a wall stud.

Step 5: Use the template to determine the correct position of the top and bottom gate hinge. If a template is not available, position the gate no more than 2 inches above the floor. Mark the screw holes for each hinge.

Step 6: Pre-drill the screw holes and mount the hinges in place.

Step 7: Install the gate onto its hinges and make the necessary adjustments so the gate fits comfortably between the designated opening. Confirm that the gate is able to swing out and back freely.

Step 8: Once the gate has been adjusted, mark the screw holes for the top and bottom gate catches and drill pilot holes for the screws.

Step 9: Install the gate catches and make any necessary adjustments to allow the gate to open and close properly.

Step 10: Once the gate has been installed, keep it closed and latched at all times. Open it only to pass through. Where small children are involved, the added safety of a gate should never be a substitute for proper supervision.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at


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