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Make a safety gate for stairs without damaging the bannister

09 Aug

Stair gate overviewGates at the top of a flight of stairs are essential to save toddlers from a nasty fall, and they are fairly easy to install in most homes if there is a wall on each side of the stairs. However, the bottom of a flight of stairs (and sometimes the top, too) often has a bannister on one side. In my house, we installed a traditional gate at the top of the stairs for safety, but at the foot of the stairs, one side of the stairs has a handmade wooden bannister, and the other side has a wall of faux brick; holes in either side here would be tougher to repair than holes in wood paneling or drywall. If you don’t want to drill holes and damage your bannister and walls, you’ll need a more creative gate.

My gates consists of two layers of cloth stitched together with a layer of cotton batting in the middle. The right and left edges have large grommets that can be attached to a post or hook with cable ties, carabiners, or other fasteners. I wrapped black cloth around our newel post to protect it from scratches, and I attached one end of the gate to the post using black cable ties. The other side is the side that can be opened; it attaches to the wall with a carabiner through an eye hook and with two removable Command Cord Bundlers (www.amazon.com/dp/B0000CCQKV). They use a removable adhesive, so they will not leave a hole behind when they are removed. I used cable ties to create loops to connect the grommets to the cord bundlers.

Stair gate on newel postStair gate carabiner attachment

Please note that this gate is not a foolproof safety solution; it is a deterrent to keep children from entering the stairs unnoticed. Kids can learn to open the gate, and they can also peel the cord bundlers off the wall if they push the gate hard enough. My daughter did both of these things eventually…but by that point, she was confident on the stairs and didn’t need as much protection. The gate still functioned as a deterrent; it slowed her down enough that she couldn’t run upstairs without someone noticing.

Taking down the gate for good is easy: cut the cable ties from the newel post, peel the cord bundlers off the wall, unscrew the eye hook from the baseboard, and patch the single hole in the baseboard. This homemade gate leaves only one hole, which should be a lot easier and less conspicuous to repair than trying to patch multiple holes in the newel post and faux brick.

 
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