Hardware-mounted vs. pressure-mounted child safety gates
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.
The Best Baby Gates To Prevent Your Now-Mobile Kid From Head-First Exploration
Toddlers are like miniature ninjas. One minute, they’re quietly designing entire cities with building blocks. The next, they’re exploring the concept of gravity by taking on the stairs. When properly installed and used, the best baby gates for stairs (otherwise known as child gates), including the ever-popular Retract-a-Gate, keep intrepid, rambunctious toddlers contained and safely away from fireplaces, steep stairs, or the great outdoors.
If you need further proof — besides observing your curious and active child — that a top of stairs baby gate is a good idea, consider this stat from a 2012 long-term study in the journal Pediatrics: “A child less than 5 years old is treated in a US emergency department, on average, every 6 minutes for a stair-related injury.”
For tops of stairs gates, experts strongly recommend that parents go with hardware-mounted baby gates. Simply put, those are the most secure because they’re screwed into place, even though they do leave holes in your walls. Pressure-mounted baby gates are another option; they’re more flexible because you can move them from place to place and are best for flatter areas, like doorways.
Auto Close Modern Baby Gate by Munchkin
This gate can be both pressure-mounted and hardware-mounted. It extends from 29.5 inches to 40.5 inches. It's also easy for adults to manage: You just pull and lift the handle. We also like the dual-locking mechanism, which allows door to swing in both directions. It's suitable for use in doorways and on stairs.
Buy Now $92.69
Auto-Close SafeGate Baby Gate by Qdos
How do you know your baby gate is actually shut? Well, in this case, you see a green indicator that tell you so. This gate can be installed within an opening or doorframe, or at the bottom of the stairs. And you can pressure-mount this gate without having to drill into your walls, which is an added bonus. But don't use this gate at the top of the stairs. It has a maximum width of 37 inches, but can be 48 inches wide with extra extensions.
Buy Now $89.95
Retract-A-Gate Baby Gate
Now you see it, now you don't: That's the basic idea between this fairly brilliant 52 inch hardware-mounted gate that can retract when not in use. You can also purchase extra mounting kits if you'd like to be able to move the gate around to different locations.
Buy Now $147.00
Retractable Baby Gate by Momcozy
Another retractable gate, this one extends up to 55 inches wide and is 33.7 inches tall, and fits any doorway up to 55 inches. The mesh can be completely retracted when not in use, saving you space and being less of an eyesore. A mechanism at the top can be locked or unlocked, and the gate is hardware-mounted.
Buy Now $54.99
Extra Tall Baby Gate with Door by Summer Infant
If you're in the market for something with more height, this baby gate is 36 inches tall and fits openings up 28 to 48 inches wide. It has an auto-close feature and works both for doorways and stairways. You can hardware-mount it for added security, or pressure-mount it.
Buy Now $75.94
Stairway Angle Baby Gate by Cardinal Gates
A simple, affordable, and durable wall-mounted gate for the top of the stairs, this one is 42.5 inches wide. Adults open and close it using a one-handed latch system. It has an optional stop bracket that prevents it from opening over a stairway. It installs at angles up to 30 degrees.
Buy Now $74.95
Extra Wide Baby Gate by Summer Infant
At 53 inches wide, this baby gate is perfect for bigger or taller openings. You have two installation options: Hardware stairway installation (which we recommend) or a no-drill doorway mount. The gate door has a feature that gently closes the door behind you, and a hold-open feature if you, well, want to keep it open. It also has a built-in door stopper that will prevent your gate from swinging open.
Buy Now $89.99
Outdoor Baby Gate by Cardinal Gates
This hardware-mounted aluminum gate has a powder-coated finish that's rustproof and weatherproof, so it can be installed on the stairs of a porch or deck. It's 42.5 inches wide. Although the gate can swing freely both ways, the company also includes an optional stop bracket that prevents the gate from being opened in whichever direction you choose (such as over a staircase).
Buy Now $74.80
Wide Deluxe Décor Baby Gate by North States
So you live in a palace, with a massive staircase? And other, regular baby gates just won't do? You need this behemoth, which fits openings up to 72 inches wide. It's a swinging safety gate with a childproof double-locking system. You can hardware-mount it on to straight or angled walls. And parents can open it one-handed.
Buy Now $115.99
Super-Wide Adjustable Baby Gate by Regalo
If you need something for angled openings or the bottom of the stairs, this hardware-mounted baby gate is for you. It can expand to fit openings that are 192 inches wide, and comes with eight 24-inch panels. If you opt to use it as a play yard, it can create 19 square feet of play space. It has a walk-through design with a safety locking feature.
Buy Now $109.99
Qdos Crystal Designer Baby Gate
If you'd rather not see a baby gate at all (after all, a design marvel it's not), here's a virtually invisible one. It's made from see-through acrylic and can be installed within an opening or doorframe, or at the bottom of the stairs. Because this gate is pressure-mounted, do not use at the top of the stairs. It's 30.3 inches tall, and fits openings 29.9 to 37.8 inches. There's a glow-strip at the bottom to stop you from tripping over it.
Buy Now $179.95
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Baby gates can keep your curious toddler from exploring places they shouldn’t, or keep a pet from pouncing on someone as they enter the home. However, gates tend to require some hardware to mount them. You need extra tools, and you’ll have to drill a hole in your wall if you want to install it.
Drilling a hole in the wall isn’t doable for some. Maybe you have a rental home and you can’t make any alterations to the walls, or you just don’t want to drill a hole in your wall. The good news is that there are gates that require no alterations.
In this post, I’ll dive into the world of pressure-mounted gates and tell you which ones are the best. Let’s begin.
Table of Contents
Our Top Picks for The Best Pressure-Mounted Gates of 2020:
1. North States 50" Wide Quick-Fit (Best Budget)
Do you want a cheap gate with nothing fancy? This one will do the trick. It goes for about $22 on Amazon, making it one of the cheapest pressure-mounted gates that has a 4-star average rating on Amazon.
- It’s quite tall and wide. At 32 inches in height, most kids and pets will be no match for it.
- The pressure mount fits well for any opening that is between 29.5-50 inches, giving it quite a range for you to install it.
- It’s cheap, but it is strong, making it a great gate for children who are curious.
- It’s USA-made, so if you like supporting local businesses, that’s a plus.
- This gate is cheap, so some users did report the gate breaking easily. With that said, most customers have been satisfied, but if you’re buying a cheap gate, you do have to risk the possibility of it being broken. Luckily, the customer service seems quite responsive.
- It doesn’t open. Because it’s tall, it’s quite difficult for parents, especially shorter ones, to step over.
Wooden gates are always aesthetically pleasing, and this gate is one of the best-looking ones I’ve seen. It combines rustic with industrial, having a nice wood and metal appearance. The swinging gate is arched and looks inviting to anyone. While it is a bit expensive, at $78, it doesn’t cost too much.
- It looks great, which is something I can’t emphasize enough. If you’re going by looks alone, this is the winner.
- It’s quite tall with the gate going up to 32 inches.
- For openings, this gate is quite immense, going from 36-60 inches.
- It does have a one-handed opening, meaning that you can open it when you have something else in your hand.
- Despite its mostly positive reception, a few reviewers did have problems with it. These range from the latch breaking off to the gate falling when it reached its maximum possible width.
Click here to see today’s price for the Wood & Metal 5 Foot Pressure Mounted Baby Gate on Amazon
3. LEMKA Walk Thru Baby Gate (Best Auto-Close)
Do you need a gate that automatically closes? If so, this is the gate for you. An auto-close gate will make sure the gate is secure after you open it, and in the event your child opens it, the gate should snap back to its original position.
- It’s available in different widths, so you can pick the one that’s best suited for your home. The widths don’t range too terribly in price, going for about $48-$58. It also includes an extension kit as well.
- It has a double lock, meaning that your child will have a hard time opening it up. With that said, the gate also boasts a lock that is easy to open with one hand.
- It’s quite sturdy for a pressure gate. You shouldn’t have any problems with it, and your kids will have a hard time getting through the gate.
- It’s received a warm reception with a 4.3 out of 5 score on Amazon.
- Some parents had trouble with the auto-close, saying that when the gate was tightened, it had a hard time closing, but if you loosened the gate, it felt too flimsy.
- Other parents reported that their package arrived broken, but this is a risk you take with any gate.
4. Evenflo Soft and Wide (Best Retractable Gate)
Retractable gates are the rage, and for a good reason. They have a soft barrier that gives your child less risk of injury, yet the gate is also durable. There are many retractable gates on the market, but I have to go with the name brand with those one. Evenflo is a popular baby product brand, and an earworm as well.
Every time I see the brand name, Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” plays in my head, but I digress. It’s affordable and has received positive reception on Amazon.
- It’s lightweight due to its mesh barrier. Not heavy metals or anything that would be a hassle to carry. Despite it’s lightweightedness, it’s a gate that’s durable as well.
- It’s decent in height, going to 27 inches. As for its width, it ranges from 38-60 inches.
- No assembly required. Comes ready to use right out of the box.
- A retractable gate means it takes up less space when opened.
- Some users reported that their small to medium dogs were able to break down the gate without any problem. However, one comment to a negative review questioned the person’s installation, saying that an adult fell on it and it didn’t budget.
5. Cumbor 40.6″Auto Close Safety Baby Gate with Arch Cat Door (Best Gate With Pet Door)
The gate with a pet door has become a more popular choice as of recently. For a house that has a big pet or a kid, but also a cat or other smaller animal, you may want to purchase a gate that keeps the big pets out but lets in the smaller ones. This is where the gate with pet door comes in.
- The pet door has a nice arch shape and includes a double lock, meaning that it can keep kids and curious pets out. Should your toddler try to crawl through it, the arch shape prevents injury from happening.
- It’s quite high, going about 30.5 inches in height.
- It’s quite durable. The manufactures claim it can withstand 210 pound pets as they try to charge at it.
- This is a pressure gate, but you can also install it through hardware as well, making it quite versatile.
- Some babies may be able to crawl through the pet door. One reviewer posted a video of their baby crawling through it with ease, and also claimed their 4-year-old crawled through it as well. That’s a risk any gate with a pet door has, so make sure you lock the pet door when not in use.
Sometimes, the opening you need protecting is wider than usual. That’s when an extra wide gate comes in handy. Sadly, many extra wide gates aren’t pressure mounted, even if the search results say otherwise.
I had a pick for this one, but upon further digging, discovered it was hardware mounted. This gate has both pressure and hardware mounting,and it has quite a bit of space to cover. Let’s get into it.
- First, let’s talk about how wide it is. It goes up to 84.65 inches, meaning it has a lot of space to cover. However, you can also downsize it to a smaller gate, going as low as 25.59 inches. With quite a bit of range, every space in your home should be covered.
- It includes pressure mounting and hardware mounting, giving you plenty of variety.
- It’s an auto-close gate as well, and it closes from both sides. It does have a hold open feature to keep the gate open. Like any auto-close, it’ll stay open if you open it more than 90 degrees, but close when it’s under that.
- It’s sturdy, with a frame made from steel that prevents impacts of up to 180 pounds. When you have a rowdy child or dog, this gate will stand up to everything you throw at it.
- Its gate spacing is narrow to stop pinches and pets from getting through.
- It’s expensive! If you want this gate, you’re going to have to cough up $181. Some people may be turned off by that price.
- Not too many reviews. While mostly positive, a few reviewers said that the instructions were complex and the door didn’t self-close like the description claimed.
How I Picked the Gates
Were They Pressure-Mounted?
With all these gates, I double-checked to make sure that they had pressure mounting. When searching for “pressure-mounted gates” on Amazon, you’d sometimes run into the trap of gates appearing on your search results that only had a hardware mounting option.
With that said, that’s an important shopping tip. If you have to have a pressure gate, make sure that it truly is one.
When I pick gates, I try to pick ones that have a 4 star or higher average on Amazon. With baby gates, there are plenty of junk products out there. Sometimes, they have prices that are too good to be true, but even the more expensive may have a few duds here and there.
With 4 stars or more, I know that most customers are satisfied. Any gate is going to have negative reviews; a clever baby can get past it, or it may have arrived defective or with missing parts, but when the majority of parents are giving it praise, it deserves the spot on this list.
I tried to pick a variety of baby gates for the reviewer to pick from. Gates that are cheap, gates that cost a bit of money, and anywhere in-between. As I’ve been writing these articles, I have certain categories I look for, such as retractable gates, gates with a pet door, extra tall gates, and so on.
Pressure-Mounted Gate Installation Tips
Before I go, let’s discuss how you should install a pressure-mounted gate. A pressure-mounted gate can be sturdy when installed correctly, but many users have reported a wobbly and unstable gate. Quite often, this is because you didn’t install it correctly. Here are some steps to make sure you installed it right.
- First, always read the instructions. Don’t think that you won’t need any instructions to install a gate, even if it looks simple. If you need further instructions, do your research and see if the manufacturer has an installation video, or you can find a video from a professional. Sometimes, seeing the installation in action can make much more sense than what was written in the manual.
- Always measure before you install. I can’t stress this enough. Some people take a wild guess with their measuring, but you shouldn’t do that. Instead, you should always make sure that the gate has the right measurements for your barrier.
- If the gate has a pressure bar, make sure you lock it into place for extra security. This is something that not all gates have, but some do, and you want to ensure that it’s locked into place.
- This is something I’ve mentioned before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t install a pressure gate on top of the stairs (use a special gate for stairs instead). They are not designed for these areas. The bottom of the stairs, sure, but not the top.
- It’s important you test the gate before you’re ready to go. If something feels off, try again. If it feels sturdy and ready to go, you’re good. With that said, always make sure you check it every so often to ensure it’s still installed in its right place. In order to test it, give the gate repeated pulls and pushes. An installed gate should be able to handle that with ease.
Pros and Cons of a Pressure-Mounted Gate
A pressure-mounted gate stays together between two walls with pressure. It presses on both sides in order to secure itself and make sure that your walls don’t get damaged in the process.
They are different from hardware-mounted gates. These types of gates are bolted to your walls, and they usually require you to drill a hole to secure them. Hardware-mounted gates are great for areas where your baby could fall. For example, the top of the stairs is where the hardware-mounted gates shines the most.
Pros of a Pressure-Mounted Gate
Pressure-mounted gates (which will be referred to as pressure gates throughout the rest of the article,) have many advantages over hardware gates, such as:
Easy to Put Together
A hardware gate requires a bit of home improvement. While it’s not a complex project, it does take time out of your day and is a hassle. Meanwhile, pressure gates tend to come already assembled out of the box, or require little assembly, and you just place it between your walls.
If you need to remove it or move it another place, it’s easy for you to do.
No Damaging Your Home
Pressure gates are gentle on your walls and don’t need any drilling for you to set them up. When you want your baby to be safe, but don’t want to damage your house, pressure gates are the best option.
Pressure gates tend to be cheaper to their hardware counterparts. This is usually due to having fewer parts. Of course, both hardware and pressure gates come in all prices, and you can find an expensive pressure gate, and vice versa.
Pressure gates are the preferred baby gate, and because of that, the market has quite a bit of variety, with gates available in all shapes and sizes. This isn’t to say that hardware gates don’t have variety as well.
Disadvantages of Pressure Gates
Not as Tough
While pressure gates are quite tough, hardware gates have them beat. If you have a bigger dog that likes to sprint around the home, the pressure gate may not be a match for it. A little Chihuahua isn’t going to mess the pressure gate up, but if you have a St. Bernard, that’s another story.
Not for the Top of Stairs
You can put a pressure gate at the bottom of your stairs, but sometimes, you need a gate for the top as well. A pressure gate is not recommended for the top of your stairs.
One of the biggest reasons for this is because the gate can fall under a baby’s weight if you don’t install it right. On a floor level, the worst that happens is that the gate falls and the baby cries. On the top of the stairs, you risk your child tumbling down the steps, leading to possible serious injury.
So pressure gates are great for most parts of the house except for the top of the steps or other areas where you absolutely need security.
Advantages of Hardware Gates
If you’re looking for a gate that your baby can put their entire weight on without any movement, then you should want to go with a hardware-mounted gate. The same applies if you have a large dog that likes to ram the gate. There’s much less of a chance of the gate failing.
Can’t Trip Over Them
Gates that are hardware-mounted tend to have no threshold on the bottom. This means that you’re less likely to trip over it. Whether you’re a baby or a parent who is half asleep, these gates work wonders.
You Need it for the Top of the Stairs
If the top of your stairs needs a gate, you can’t rely on a pressure gate. Instead, you must get a hardware gate. A pressure gate can fit the bottom of your stairs, but not the top.
Disadvantages of a Hardware Gate
It Can Damage Your House
Since you have to drill a hole, you do have to worry about holes in your home after you take them out. You can repair the holes with putty, obviously, but that is another expense and another thing to worry about.
Longer to Install
Installing a hardware gate isn’t a quick process. It isn’t one that will take all day, but you do need to take some time out of your day, as opposed to the quick installation of a pressure mounted gate.
Can’t Take it Down Quickly
If you have to take down the gate quickly, you’re going to have to wait a little bit. You have to unscrew it and follow the instructions. With that said, there are some hardware gates that do have a quick release option, but that’s not all of them.
Why Not Both?
There are some gates that are hardware-mounted only, and there are gates that are only pressure-mounted. However, there are also gates that have both as an option.
Being able to use both gives you quite a bit of variety. Maybe you’re renting out a space right now, but are soon moving to a spot where you can drill a hole, and you may want to use the gate for the top of your stairs.
What to Look for When Choosing a Pressure Gate
I’ll list my picks in a minute, but before I do, I realize that you may want to shop on your own as well. Here are a few factors to think about as you shop.
- First, double check to make sure it’s pressure-mounted. It should say so in the description, but if you’re still unsure, don’t be afraid to message the seller.
- Make sure it’s wide enough to cover the walls. The gate should list the width range it covers on the selling page. Take some measuring tape and measure the space between the walls, then find a gate that is wide enough to cover the space.
- How sturdy is it? A cheaper gate may be made from cheaper materials and be less sturdy. It may work for a normal toddler, but if you have one that is super energetic, you may want to pay more to get a more durable gate.
- Think about the lock itself. Different gates use different locks, and some are easier than others. The perfect lock is one that you can open with one hand as you’re carrying your baby, groceries, or other item. The lock should be easy for you to open, but complex for your child.
- For some, the look of the gate is important too. Some parents just want a gate that protects their kid, and they may not want anything else. However, you may like a gate that has a nice color and design, complementing your house well.
- Will it get here quickly? Most gates use Amazon shipping, which means that you should receive the gate within two days or so. However, some don’t, and if you need the gate ASAP, that’s something to think about.
- Are you forgetful? If so, you may want a gate that automatically closes. Auto-close gates close automatically when opened under 90 degrees, and vice versa.
- Finally, the reviews. It’s always important to read the reviews and see what they’re saying. What are some possible concerns that some reviewers pointed out? What are some of its advantages? Did anyone have a hard time setting it up? Doing your research can help you decide whether not the gate is a good fir for your household.
Here are my picks again.
- Best Budget: North States 50" Wide Quick-Fit. This gate is incredibly cheap. While lacking in some features, it’s a great gate if you don’t have much money to spend and need the basics.
- Best Auto-Close Gate: LEMKA Walk Thru Baby Gate. Available in many different sizes, this gate should suit most parents’ needs.
- Best Retractable: Evenflo Soft and Wide. It’s affordable and highly reviewed, making it one of the best pressure-mounted retractable gates available on the market today.
- Best Gate With Pet Door: Cumbor 40.6″Auto Close Safety Baby Gate with Arch Cat Door. This gate will keep big pets and kids out and let cats and other small pets in.
- Best Extra Wide: ALLAIBB Extra-Wide. While it’s expensive, this gate has a long range, making it great for wide openings.
A pressure-mounted gate can keep your babies and pets out of certain areas of your homes with ease. While not recommended for the top of your stairs, they’re great for most areas of your home. There are a variety of gates for all kinds of situations, and I hope that this guide helped you find a gate that fits your lifestyle.
Have you picked any of these gates? If so, did you like them? Tell me in the comments.
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