With so many Child Safety Gates to choose from, selecting the most suitable option for your needs can often seem a daunting task. To assist you in making the right choice, Safetots have come up with a guide to identify the different types of stair gates available, providing an insight into the benefits and pros and cons of each type of gate.  From pressure fitted gatesscrew fitted gatesretractable gates  and gates for dogs, we highlight the features and differences to help you reach the right decision. 

Stair gates are still one of the most popular baby safety items purchased for babyproofing the home.  Given the name ‘stair gates’ many parents who live in houses without stairs still install ‘safety gates’ in various doorways to keep their little ones safe from dangers in kitchens, bathrooms or simply to create safe play zones for their children to play.  Safety gates can be used in external doorways to prevent infants and pets from venturing outside and enable doors to be open during the summer months.  Safety gates are versatile and provide the ultimate safety for infants in the home. 


Installing a baby gate in doorways and stairwells is one of the first steps many parents take to baby proofing the home once their child shows signs of crawling or shuffling.  It’s best to think ahead and fit stair gates ahead of your baby crawling as once they find their legs, it’s simply a case of gaining speed and before you know it they will be into everything.  Babies generally start crawling from the age of 8 months, however some babies are earlier some slightly later.  When your child reaches the age of 5 months, take a look around the home to establish areas where a safety gate might be needed. 


Stair gates vary in price, and depending on the size and style you want the price will differ.  Today we are spoilt for choice and you can buy mesh gatesblack metal gateswhite metal gates and wooden gates and a wooden and metal mix to match your home interiors.  Use our unique Safetots stairgate finder to view our range of stair gates for a tight budget through to our range of high end stair gates. 


Choosing the right stair gate can be challenging, here we have put together a guide to all the different types of stair gates and what to consider when buying a gate.  Different stair gates have different features and sometimes buying the most expensive gate doesn’t always provide you with the ‘best stair gate’. 

Popular brands include Bettacare, BabyDan, and Safetots.  Different types of stair gates are suited to different areas of the home. 

Screw fit stair gates are recommended for the top of stairs as they have no trip bar, plus they have added stability thanks to the screw fit feature. For additional safety make sure the gate opens towards you if installed at the top of the stairs. 

Retractable gates are great space saving solutions and can be installed with ease in many areas of the home.  They virtually disappear once retracted and provide a great deterrent when in use.  Although made from strong mesh, retractable gates do not provide the same barrier as metal safety gates and wooden safety gates.  Retractable gates are ideal for small spaces or areas where a permanently fitted gate is not required. 

Consider how the gate opens and closes, two way opening stair gates are the most versatile option but may not be suited to all spaces.  Automatic closing gates shut automatically once you have walked through, ideal for children with siblings who may not always remember to close the gate.  Manual closing gates have to be physically closed behind you, often featuring a slide and lift mechanism to open. 


Screw fit stair gate are the strongest most sturdy stair gates and recommended for the top of the stairs as they have no trip bar.  Wall mounting brackets are featured at either corner of the gate and drilling into walls or bannisters is required for installation. 


As screw fit stair gates are drilled into place, they provide the strongest, most secure barrier.  Screw fit stair gates have no base trip bar making them the safest option for the top of stairs. 

Screw fitted stair gates such as the BabyDan Configure Gate and the Safetots Flex Gate are made up of individual panels that range in size enabling you to create a gate configuration for your own unique space. 


As screw fitted stair gates are physically screwed in place, once the gate is removed the holes will remain in place, however these can easily filled with the right materials. 

Extensions are not available for many screw fit gates, it’s therefore important to ensure you have the correct measurements before purchasing.  Consider any skirting boards when measuring as this may be different to your wall to wall measurement. 


Pressure fitted safety gates are versatile, they can be moved easily from one doorway to another by simply releasing the pressure at the four spindles and re-installing at another doorway or stairwell.  There is no lasting damage to walls or bannisters with pressure fitted stair gates as they are installed using pressure only and no drilling or screwing into place is required. 


Fitted by pressure with 4 spindles and wall cups there is no lasting damage to surrounding walls and bannisters once removed. 

Pressure gates are versatile, they can be easily moved to doorways and stairwells measuring the same width. 

Most pressure fitted gates are compatible with extensions. Extensions for stair gates come in a range of sizes enabling you to make a gate configuration to suit your space. 


Pressure fit stair gates are designed within a U frame.  The base of the u frame forms a bar that can potentially be tripped over.  Pressure fit stair gates are therefore not recommended for the top of the stairs and more suited to the bottom of stairs and doorways. 


Retractable gates that retract back fully are generally made of a strong mesh that fully retracts into the frame when not in use.  Retractable stair gates are installed using wall mounting brackets that are screwed into place, they can be fitted to the outside wall around a door entrance or within the door frame itself. 

Retractable stair gates are a deterrent for children or pets, providing an instant screening, however they do not provide the same strength as a more permanent fixed stair gate such as metal stair gates and wooden stair gates. 


The benefits of gates that retract is that they can be fully retracted into the wall mounted bracket when not in use. 

Retractable gates are ideal gates for small spaces or awkward spaces as they can be fitted inside or outside of door frames. 

Mesh gates are discreet when not in use and provide an instant temporary room divide when needed. 

Retractable gates have no base bar so there is no risk from tripping over. 

Retractable gates are a popular choice for external doorways. 

Retractable gate brackets can be practically fitted anywhere. 


Retractable gates are not generally recommended for use with dogs as if chewed, damage to the fabric may occur. 

Retractable gates are not as strong as wooden gates or metal gates and create less of a permanent divide. 

Not suited to extra wide spaces. 


The type of stair gate you choose to prevent your dog from entering various rooms in the home, or for keeping your dog safe in the home will depend on the size and breed of your dog. 


If you have a large dog which has considerable strength you may want to consider an extra tall screw fit stair gate.  A screw fitted gate is stronger than a pressure fitted gate and more suited to retaining larger, stronger pets. 

For smaller dogs most pressure fitted gates or screw fitted gates will be suitable.  For pet owners whos dogs may be prone to chewing, a metal stair gate may be a more suitable choice over wood. 

Pet gates with a cat flap are ideal for dog owners who also have a cat.  The pet gate creates zones for dogs yet enables a cat to enter and exit areas of the home not suited to a dog.  Dog gates with a cat flap are generally taller than standard size gates, making them suitable for larger dogs, smaller dogs and cats. 


To help you find a stair gate for your doorway or stair well try our Safetots stair gate finder.  Our unique stair gate finder enables you to key in your measurements and a list of compatible stair gates, pressure fitted, screw fitted and retractable will be shown.  The stair gate finder further enables you to narrow down your search by selecting ‘pressure fitted gates’ or ‘screw fitted gates’ with a further option to select colour and brand.