Hardware-mounted vs. pressure-mounted child safety gates

Consumer Reports News: January 23, 2009 03:39 PM

Q: Is it okay to use a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs if it’s a tight fit? I have a newish house and don’t like the idea of having to drill holes into the door frame for hardware-mounted gates.

A: It’s true that hardware-mounted gates require screws for installation in a doorway; you drill holes in a doorframe or into the studs behind a wall and attach the gate with brackets and screws. (Follow mounting instructions carefully.)

Unfortunately, though, that’s what you’ll have to do if you’re installing a child safety gate at the top of the stairs. But all is not lost. You can always fill in the holes later with wood putty or wall-patching compound when you no longer use the gate.

Child safety gates are recommended for children between 6 and 24 months. Pressure-mounted gates, which are wedged into place by pressure against the doorframe or walls, don’t require drilling. But because they’re easier to dislodge, they’re not a wise choice anywhere security is paramount, such top-of-the-stair locations.

Pressure-mounted gates are suitable for the bottom of stairs or in a doorway separating two areas with same-level flooring. It’s safe to use a pressure-mounted gate, for example, to cordon off the kitchen so you can cook without your baby underfoot.

See our reports on safety gates and 3 things you should buy for kids for more information.

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