If You Already Know

If you already know the qualifications as to what is best baby gate for the stairs then skip to the section below to read the review of my trusted gate, or purchase it here if you are in a hurry.

If you don’t know the first thing about choosing baby gates like for example:

  • size of baby gates to choose
  • the difference between pressure and hardware mount
  • JPMA certification
  • Latches you can open with one hand yet still difficult enough to stop any kid under the age of two
  • Gate that allows only one direction swing  and the reasons behind it
  • How to modify the gate parts to protect your banisters and balusters

then you should not skip the first section of my guide.

If you are like the embodiment of the owner of Home Depot and child care expert combined, confidently believing that you don’t need me to walk you through the process then just get my favorite baby gate here. For rest of common folks like me, read on.

First Thing You Should Do Is To Measure

Before continuing, I highly recommend you measure the area in which you will be installing the baby gate. Baby gates are usually very flexible and allows different range of installations, but it’s still best to know the exact measurements. The reason is because the width of the baby gate “door way” and the amount of “stretch” the baby gate will have to be used depends heavily on the width of your stairs. Once you figure out the width, the next step is to get a hardware mounted gate.

There Are Two Types of Baby Gates

  • hardware mounted (gates that are secured into walls with screws)
    • good points is that they are secure, and almost impossible to topple over when installed correctly
    • for stairs, there’s no better choice because security comes first
    • no bar at the bottom that pressure mounts have because they don’t need to be in “one piece” in order to anchor themselves
    • bad points is that they create holes in the walls and are harder to remove the “whole” gate (more on that later)
  • pressure mounted (the gates are secured by having two ends pressing onto the walls to stay up almost as if the walls are squeezing onto the gate itself)
    • good points is that they are easy to install and move around
    • usually cheaper
    • bad points is that they aren’t as safe and possible to topple over by a strong toddler

Gates Should Be JPMA Certified

You should get a gate that is JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certified. Their standards are pretty strict and are as follows:

  • The bottom of the gate can’t be too far from the floor, and at least less than three inches away from the the floor – this prevents the child from climbing underneath and hurting himself
  • The gate should be at least twenty two inches tall – this reduces the risk of the child from climbing over
  • It should be strong enough to not crumble under proper use

A Gate You Can Open With One Hand

It’s very inconvenient to move around carrying this and that like groceries or other stuff. It’s best if you can quickly open a gate with one hand and walk through, and it swings close and locks automatically without swinging open again.

A Gate That Can Open In Both Direction

Plenty of baby gates can open in either direction. This is a nice feature because when you go through a gate, you simply want to “push through”. If not, then you will have to pull the gate, step back then walk through which could be a little annoying if your hands are full of stuff.

However, if you are specifically looking for a gate that secures the top of the stairs, then the ideal is something that opens in one direction only. That direction should be away from the bottom of the stairs.

A Gate That is Quiet

There are times where you are leaving a room with a sleeping baby. It’s best if you can do it quietly without waking her up. A gate that is quiet when it closes is ideal.

A Gate At The Top of the Stairs

Gate for the stairs has to be very secure because of obvious reasons. The following should be the features:

  • It should open away from the steps – or else if somehow it was unlocked, at least you can’t push and fall right down the stairs.
  • If you have railings or banisters that you don’t want to drill into, then get some banister clamps
  • quick release feature so that you can remove the gate quickly so you can move furniture or large items over

A Gate With Strong Lock Features

It’s best have a gate that has a complicated lock so that by the time your child grows up, she won’t be opening it up on her own. To be ideal, it should be a lock that only an adult can open but not a child. Usually that would mean that the lock requires more strength to open

A good example would be something like the First Years Slimline Gate. This gate requires a complicated mechanism in order to unlock. As for complicated, that only means for the child, not the adult of course. Some gates also forces you to squeeze the button really hard in order to open. This is of course done to prevent a weaker child from opening the gate. However, some designs makes it difficult for an adult to open, so make sure you can easily do it yourself with one hand also.

A good gate that allows you to open with one hand with be something like a gate with a pressure release handle. Gates like First Years Hands-Free Gate has a foot switch that allows you to open the gate with an adult’s body weight.

Another thing to watch out for is to have a baby gate that clearly shows that it’s locked. Usually most baby gates will give a click when they are already closed. However, some gates go out of their way to alarm you if they are not locked. For example, the Safety First Alarm Security Gate actively warns you if the gate is not completely shut. You can always turn it off if it sounds a little annoying, but it’s always an option.

Gates Are Meant To Be Used For Specific Age and Heights

If your child is older than two years old then you shouldn’t bother relying on a baby gate, because your child is most likely already too smart and strong to stop with it. This is why that gates are usually made to be at least twenty two inches high, but very little are made higher than thirty six inches. That’s because once a kid goes past a certain age, her height, weight, strength and IQ can no longer be restrained by a baby gate. There are exceptions of course, and that is if your child is still roughly one year old, and taller than most kids her age. In that case, go out of your way and buy some extra tall gates.

Staircases with Round Banisters

If you don’t want to drill a hole into your banister or if your banister is round and impractical to drill a hole into, then you have to get yourself a mounting kit to install your baby gate onto

Gate For the Outdoors

For gates for the outdoors, it’s not only important to be extremely secure, it’s also important for the gate to be weatherproof (not rust or break from the weather)

No Baby Gate is Perfect

I would love to prove otherwise but so far almost every baby gate breaks down from wear and tear. In the end, it depends on how your child and your family treats it. So far there’s no  baby gate I know of that is flawless. For example:

  • The hardware is warped
  • The screws and nuts are too weak
  • The gates rusts on certain parts when used outdoors
  • The gate wobbles
  • The instructions are horrible for installation
  • You need to compensate by purchasing your own hardware (usually simple but still annoying)

 Get Your Gate That’s Made For The Stairs

What’s So Special About Cardinal Stairway Special Gate?

The cardinal gate is made of metal completely. A lot of baby gates you find in the market nowadays have plastic parts to them where it’s the joint, or the latches. I don’t know why, but it seems to be a pretty common problem. I guess plastic lowers the  costs of building these gates so many manufacturers resort to it. This gate itself is made of lightweight aluminum so it’s sturdy, and not able to rust. That’s why this gate is good for stairs indoors and outdoors.

The Tricky Latch

The gate has a tricky latch that is easy for adults to open but difficult for kids. Some adults complain that the latch is tricky to open. I mean seriously, that’s the whole point. There’s a slight learning curve to it, but it’s not difficult. You can watch their video that teaches you how to install the gate, and at the end of the video, they show you how to open the gate latch.

It’s almost a guarantee that kids under two years old will not be able to open the latch if the gate was installed and latched correctly. The reason is because it requires tricky hand eye coordination that a child simply has not developed yet. Some people even mentioned that even a four year old can not open it.

Of course, after two years of age, a baby gate should no longer be relied on to restrain your child. It simply does not work.

One Way Function

Let’s say you forgot to latch your gate correctly, this gate still has one safety measure which is the one way function. While installing the the latch bracket, you can screw in the one way stopper that prevents the gate from swinging in a specific direction.


The direction you have to choose is obviously the direction facing the bottom of the stairs. If your child pushes on it, at least she won’t roll down the stairs, assuming you installed your gate properly. After installation, stand on top of the stairs and push the gate yourself without the latch on to test it out. If it feels sturdy then you are good to go.

Easy To Remove In Emergencies

The gate itself also has an easy remove function when you have to have a party or move furniture across. You simply follow these three easy steps:

  1. Unscrew the hinge ring
  2. Pull out the hinge
  3. Remove the whole gate

I mentioned earlier that hardware mounted gate has problem of being unable to be removed as a “whole”. This is what I was talking about. You can temporarily remove the bulk of the gate so that it does not get in your way in situations where you need convenience to walk through. Of course, make sure your baby is in a safe location first, because at this point your removed your gate.

Will it Work On Any Kid?

It will work on any child that’s under two years old and under 30 pounds. Anything beyond that, you should no longer rely on any baby gate in the world to protect your little one. Unlike most baby gates on the market that breaks under wear and tear, this gate can at least protect your child for at least 8 months under supervision and normal use. It will last much longer if your baby doesn’t keep banging, shaking, and riding on the gate.

Is There Anything Bad About This Gate?

Yes, unfortunately, I found no gate in this world that doesn’t have a flaw or two. This gate is no exception. However, it’s already the gate with the least amount of flaws compared to many other gates which are meant to only eat your money.

This gate is all metal and sturdy but it does come with certain cheap parts that I highly recommend you replace on your own. I am talking about the screw and washers. Let’s face it. They simply stink. They are weak, and too short to function. If you installed your gate at an angle, then you probably can’t even reach a wood beam (or metal stud) behind the wall with these short screws. Not to mention, they are weak wood screws.

Go to your local hardware store and buy some good metal screws that are longer. Buy your own washers too while you are at it. Just bring the little pieces (washers, screws) to the hardware store and ask them to get you a stronger version of these. Another problem with the screws and washers that comes with the package is that they rust in the outdoors, so get your own stainless steel version.

Does the Gate Itself Rust?

No, it’s made of aluminum which can’t rust. However, the latch area itself can rust, because latching and unlatching on a daily basis will rub some of the paint off. Purchase your own dry graphite to make it last longer, while repeling dust and debris. Dry graphite also lubricates the areas and repels water. One word of warning though; they stain so use it carefully. However, they should protect your gate very well from rust.

Does it Work on Areas Narrower than 27.5 inches ?

Yes, because this gate can be installed at an angle. Simply install it diagonally, and you are good to go.

Does it Work on Areas Wider Than 42.5 inches?

You will have to purchase extension pieces. However, a word of warning is that a gate is no longer as sturdy after you use an extension piece. That applies to any gate in the world. The reason is because the extra joint allows it to be moved around. It would still work depending on how active your child is. Just make sure you supervise your child at all times.

This gate by itself can not attach to banisters at one end or both ends. A lot of people recommend mounting kits to compensate for it. However, there are a few problems with that:

  • If you have metal balusters or spindles then they most likely won’t fit because the mounting kit aims for thicker rails
  • Even if they do fit, they are over priced.
  • Even if you don’t care about the price, they probably don’t match the design of your stairs and gate so it looks ugly.

What To Do On Stair Rails?

I don’t know what your stairs look like. It might possibly be the following:

  • It has metal railing or spindles
  • It has glass railing
  • It has wood, but it looks very nice so you don’t want to drill into it

In any of those cases, you will probably wonder where you can screw your gate into. Most of the “experts” on the net will recommend you purchase your own mounting kits to do the trick. Honestly, that will do the trick for some people with thick, and chunky wood banisters, but for other people with thin metal spindles, it will most likely not work.

Go to your local home depot and purchase yourself:

  • heavy duty zip ties – make sure they are UV light resistant so that if you use them outdoors, they won’t break down from over exposure under the sun. If you are using them indoors then you can order some regular heavy duty zip ties.
  • 2 x 4 lumber pieces

Secure your 2 x 4 lumber pieces to the banisters at the top of your stairs with these heavy duty zip ties. Test it to make sure it’s stable, then screw and install your baby gate onto them instead. This way you can spend much less money compared to buying a mounting kit, while customizing the installation to your own needs.

Installation Issues

You can watch their video on how to easily install the cardinal gates. It’s simple and very straightforward.


However, you will notice that the instructions tell you to measure six inches off the floor for the hinge bracket. However, I highly recommend you double check with the whole gate to see if that is too high. If it’s too high then part of your gate will hit the rails. That’s why before you start screwing in anything, you should pick up the whole gate, latch included and visualize where everything will end up on your stairs.

Here’s some things to clarify for the instructions for installation

When you install the brackets (hinge and latch brackets), which are the things that are screwed to the two sides to hold your whole gate up, remember to have their orientation right. The brackets have two ends. One end is round and smooth. The other end is flat and sharp. Make sure the round end is facing the floor while the sharp ends point towards the sky. Screw in the hinge bracket and gate on top of it first, then swing it over. The gate itself has certain weight so the latch side will be slightly “lower” than the hinge side. This is normal, so let the gate’s weight design where you will attach the latch bracket. If you don’t do that, the latch mechanism might not work later due to installation errors.

If There Are Any Questions

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave it in the comment section below. If you still haven’t already,  purchase your own cardinal gates stairway special gate here. Enjoy.