How to Fix a Stair Gate

The feeling of pride and joy when your baby starts to crawl often turns to dismay after she learns to walk. Since it's impossible to supervise your toddler every second of the day, it's time to protect your baby from her exploratory wanderings. When babies take their first steps, they are top-heavy and tend to fall backward --- imagine what could happen if your child tips over backward when climbing unprotected stairs. If you live in a two-story home, install stair gates at both ends of your stair case --- for baby's safety and your own peace of mind.

Undo the two width adjusting clamps, or remove the clamp bolts on the top and bottom rails of the stair gate while holding the two centre panels together, whichever is applicable.

Stretch the gate across the opening with the help of a friend while holding the two panels together with your hand. Adjust the width of the gate by moving the two panels sideways so the adjustable pads on each corner rest against the wall or handrail posts.

Secure the width clamping mechanism as directed in the instructions that came with the stair gate.

Undo the locknuts on the pressure-fit adjusters on all four corners, using a wrench. Turn the pressure-fit adjuster bolts outward on the bottom rail opposite the hinge to snug the rail in place. Hold a spirit level vertically against the nonhinged end post and centre the bubble by tapping the top of the post inward or outward with a plastic mallet.

Place a carpenter's square on the front of the gate and against the wall or balustrade to ensure that the gate is positioned at right angles to the side. Stretch the bolt outward by turning it counterclockwise with a wrench until the bottom rail is clamped firmly between the opposing surfaces. Repeat this step on the top corners, but do not apply enough force to bend the vertical side posts.

Tighten all four pressure-fit adjuster locknuts securely with the wrench. Open and close the stair gate to ensure that the self-closing mechanism works properly and that the gate opens and closes smoothly.

Adjust the width of the stair gate and clamp the two halves together as described in Section 1, Step 1.

Hold a spirit level vertically against the gate and centre the bubble. Use a carpenter's square to ensure that the gate is 90 degrees to the wall and/or banisters.

Mark the outline of the brackets against the sides with a pencil. Remove the spring-loaded safety clips that hold the side brackets to the gate. Hold each bracket in place against the side and trace the outline of the screw holes against the wall or banister with a pencil.

Drill 3/16-inch pilot holes through the centres of the small screw hole circles that you just traced on the sides, using a cordless drill/driver.

Clamp a screwdriver bit into the drill/driver and secure the brackets to the sides with the screws provided in the kit.

Adjust the side end supports by screwing the adjustable rods in or out. Slip the hinged supports over the vertical posts on the inner side bracket and close the gate. Tighten the adjustable rod locknuts securely with a wrench, and slip the spring-loaded safety clips onto the top of the hinged brackets to hold the stair gate firmly in place.

Open and close the gate to make sure it moves smoothly and that the self-closing mechanism is working properly.


Check-tighten the adjustable side pads on your pressure-fit stair gate frequently. This will prevent the gate from slipping against the wall and turning into a hazard. Some screw-fit stair gates are supplied with wood-faced banister clamps. This allows you to screw the side brackets to the wooden clamps as opposed to screwing the brackets directly into the wall or side posts.


Install an adjustable pressure-fit stair gate at the bottom of your staircase if you are reluctant to drill holes in your walls or balustrades. Since there is a lower bar along the bottom of the gate to transfer pressure to both sides, never install a pressure-fit stair gate at the top of the stairs; the bottom rail could turn into a dangerous trip bar.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Spirit level
  • Plastic mallet
  • Carpenter's square
  • Pencil
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Cordless drill/driver
  • Screwdriver bit
  • Assistant
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About the Author

After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and qualifying as an aircraft engineer, Ian Kelly joined a Kitchen remodeling company and qualified as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Kelly then established an organization specializing in home improvement, including repair and maintenance of household appliances, garden equipment and lawn mowers.