Watching your child grow and take their first steps are definitely those moments that you’ll never forget! Once your child does become mobile, also comes the worry and dread regarding their safety. Then you begin brainstorming ways to keep them safe around the home. Finding baby gates that were functional as well as appealing was a major problem that we were having. We especially struggled with finding safety gates for stairs that complimented our style and wasn’t a complete eye-sore.
When you enter a home that has two stories, one of the first things that you see is a staircase usually. So, of course, we (::COUGH LACEY COUGH::) needed something that flowed well with our decor, but that served the purpose of keeping our child safe. After already having a couple of gates in our home, we were searching for one that would be wide enough to cover the span of our stairs and that would work with an open banister style on both sides of the staircase.
So after a failed store-bought gate, we decided it would be easier (and cheaper!) to make one ourselves. Also, there is also the bonus of being prideful in that sense of accomplishment of making something yourself.
With both side of our bannister basically open, and mainly supported by the floor, we needed a baby gate that was permanently affixed rather than a tension style that pushed against the bannister to the point where they nearly broke! So we chose to design and create a wooden baby gate for our stairs.
PREP WORK FOR BUILDING A STAIR BABY GATE
To get started, we needed to draft a plan, and take measurements of the area we needed our baby gate for. Here is the template that we drew up, along with the measurements that we used:
Table or circular saw
2 Broken-Down Pallets or 23 1/2” x 3' x 24" boards
2-3 Door Hinges
1 Gate Latch
3/4” 18-gauge nails
HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN STAIR GATE
1. Measure the opening that you wish to be gated. You’ll want to subtract about 1/2 inch from the actual size of the opening to account for your gate equipment and to ensure a good fit.
2. Lay out and organize your pallet boards to see which will have the best fit with each other. Pallet boards are not all created equal, so you’ll definitely want to take the time to mix and match the boards together.
3. Using a pair of pliers, remove any loose nails from your pallet boards.
4. Gather all of the pallet boards being used for the main portion (back-bone) of your gate, and cut all to your desired length. I ended up cutting 15 pallet boards down to 36” inches in length. Once cut, lay all of your boards flat and form your main portion (back-bone).
5. Next, you will need to cut two additional pallet boards that will act as the frame of your gate. These two pallet boards will be cut to the size of the measurement that you made during Step 1 and will span the entire width of your gate. These will serve as the top and bottom of your frame.
6. Now we will start attaching the main portion (back-bone) boards to the top and bottom boards (that you cut for your frame in Step 5). Taking one back-bone board at a time, use some wood glue for initially adhering your back-bone board to your frame boards, and then follow-up with your nail gun before moving on to the next board. Keep checking that your boards are staying perpendicular by using your speed square. If your final back-bone board extends beyond your frame boards, you’ll need to cut this amount off so that it’ll be even.
7. With all the vertical pieces glued and nailed, you can cut and attach the left and right side of the frame. You’ll need to measure the distance on the inside from your top and bottom gate frame pieces. The vertical frame pieces will need to be adhered with wood glue and nails.
8. Now, with your gate actually finished, we can start with the cross pieces. (This section is completely optional. Lacey wanted to add a cross across the gate to add more character to the piece. If you don’t want to add an “X” to the front of your gate, you can skip to Step 12.) This part can be a little tricky since the board being used for your cross is probably shorter than the width of the gate, we have had use two boards for it.
So finding the corner angle I laid the board across the gate like shown in the picture below, but since it isn't long enough to reach the opposite corner I had to use another board to make sure it was lined up correctly.
9. I used my speed square to find the angle in the corner of the gate, where my cross board would be placed. I took this measurement and marked it on my first cross boards, and used my miter saw to get a nice clean cut. If you don't have a miter saw a circular saw would also work.
For this part, I advise not to glue or nail any of cross boards until you test fit them and are confident your angles and lengths are correct.
10. With the first half of your “X” laying in place (not adhered yet) on your gate, we need to fit for the other half of your “X.” You will not be crossing these boards because all boards will be lying flat, so you will need to cut these pieces based on your first half of your “X.” You will need to find your angles for the corners of your gate, as well as the angles from the first half of your “X,” so that your pieces will fit. Once you have these angles, mark them on your second cross boards, and cut.
11. With all of your cross board pieces cut, they will need to be test fitted. If your pieces do not fit initially, recheck your angles, and try again. Once all pieces fit, you can start gluing and nailing your cross board pieces to the gate.
12. With your “X” now attached to the front, you can start sanding your gate to get rid of any splinters and rough areas that might snag clothing or hurt your kiddo.
12. To finish we chose our favorite Rustoleum white chalk paint for a flat finish.
13. With the gate painted we added some character with a little distressing. This part is always fun. It was my wife's first time using the palm sander, so it was enjoyable to watch! She did a wonderful job! If you don't have a sander that’s fine, you can also get some cheap sandpaper, or a sanding sponge and a little elbow grease will do the trick.
14. Now that the gate is painted, and distressed, we can attach the door hinges and get that baby mounted to the banister! Place your hinges in your desired location on the front. The pack I got came with three so I decided to use all three, but you could get by with just two if that’s what you have. Make sure to leave a little overhang when putting them on so you don't have any binding.
15. Having a friend to help hold the gate in place is a bonus but you can do it by yourself. I had to modify the bolt caps that were holding the banisters just a tad to be able to get the gate where I wanted it, but I also could have avoided this if I had taken note of these in the planning process. (Doh!) I’m not too hard on myself and neither should you be if you run into some small problems along the way.
16. Now all that’s left is to put on the gate latch, we chose a simple one that only takes a minute to align and put on. Super easy!
17. Voila! Check your gate and make sure it swings freely and latches securely.
This type of baby gate is completely modifiable, and can easily be adapted to over spaces around your home as well. So if you don’t have a staircase, but still need a baby gate in an area of your home, a piece like this can add a bit of flare and customization to your home along with keeping your little ones safe, or your pets secured.
When you first start off with trying to build your own pieces, you will be faced with several phases of trial and error, but you will learn some valuable lessons in the process. So don’t be discouraged at all if your project isn’t coming together as you planned. Any professional in any field was a beginner at some point too!
What piece would you like to see a tutorial on? Please provide your feedback and questions in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!