I feel like I start the majority of my posts by making excuses for how long it’s been since my last post. Today is no exception. Holidays, baby, football, blah, blah, blah. Does it really matter what the real reason is? The important thing is that I actually accomplished something this past weekend AND I got enough pictures of the process to brag about my productivity. Woohoo!
Baby gates have been on my radar for quite some time. The nugget is 13 months old now and she’s been walking since she was 9 months. That’s a long time to not have a baby gate at the top of the stairs. We’ve been using the closed door method, but that wasn’t cutting it anymore. I want my child to be able to walk from our room to hers on her own without me feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack. So a baby gate was number one priority on the project list.
I say “project list” because installing a gate at the top of our stairs was not as easy as buying one and following the instructions on the box. As you might be able to see from the photo, our landing only has a wall on one side, and it’s very small. The other side is just a railing, and it isn’t even with the wall. It’s set back on the landing at least 6 inches.
Finding a standard gate to fit the space was out of the question. I did some research on gates for awkward spaces, but I couldn’t find anything I felt comfortable with. So I decided to create my own solution.
I started by measuring the height and width of the space between the wall and the railing. Once I knew the size the gate needed to be, I drew out my plans so I could come up with a materials list.
According to my drawing, I needed 2 boards for the top and bottom of the gate measuring 40″ across. Then I needed 7 boards that would connect the top and bottom together measuring 34″ high each. I decided to use 1x4s for the top and bottom so they were thick and sturdy. I used 1x3s to connect them together. They worked perfectly. The gate is light enough to swing easily, but thick enough to withstand my curious child.
I purchased most of my materials from Lowes. Normally I’d have them cut the pieces for me, but I had a few scraps at home so I just used my miter saw.
As you can see from my photo, I also purchased a fence post. I will get into the reason for that a little later. Hopefully, if you are building your own gate, you won’t need to include that step.
Once I cut all my wood down to size, I was ready to assemble.
I arranged my pieces. In this case, there was 3.75″ in between each plank. I measured and marked those spots and used a power drill to pre-drill holes on each side.
Then I used an impact driver to secure the pieces together with wood screws.
I started with one screw on each side, then repeated that step. Two screws on each side made the board nice and secure.
While at Lowes, I also purchased some hinges. I went with black T-hinges. Attractive and supportive, but not too big and heavy. My original plan was to put the hinges through the drywall on the left side of my landing, but I changed my mind and decided I wanted the door to swing the other way. This is where that weird fence post comes in. As I was explaining earlier, there is no wall on the right side of my landing. It is only a railing. The flat part of the railing is too high for the gate to reach and too far back on the landing. My solution was to add a large block of wood in front of the railing that I could use to drill into. That way I wasn’t putting any holes in the railing. Much better for resale.
Of course, I couldn’t find a block of wood that matched the post dimensions exactly. Well… I did, but it was $30, so forget that. The next closest thing was a pressure-treated outdoor fence post. I did some research and found that the post was safe to use indoors. So I purchased it, cut it down to size, and attached it to my current post. Since I didn’t want to leave any holes, I got creative with my attachment solution.
I put one at the top and one on the bottom and tightened the bolts really well. Not the prettiest sight, but it prevented me from having to make any permanent changes. The people who owned the house before us had a similar setup, but they used bungee cords. That option didn’t sit well with me. Too much room for movement and the possibility of those cords snapping at any moment around my child. Eeek!
Now that my new post was attached to my old post, I had a whole new area to use for drilling holes. I called it the “sweet spot”.
To attach my gate, I first added the hinges to it. I did this before attaching them to the post to make it easier. I gave the gate about half an inch of clearance off the carpet and attached the other end of the hinges to the post. I had to hang them off the edge to ensure that the hinges wouldn’t get stuck when opening and closing the gate. I positioned them so that they closed in on themselves.
After the gate was up, I tried closing it and realized that there was a much bigger gap than I initially anticipated between the gate and the wall. I hadn’t taken into consideration the placement of the hinges after I made the snap decision to switch the way the door would swing. Not a big deal. I just added another small piece of wood to the top of the gate to span the gap. The space was small enough.
With my hinges I’d also purchased a gate latch.
I drilled the gate latch into the wall even with the top of the gate. You can see where the holes from the prior owner’s gate was. I never got around to filling them.
Once the gate latch was on the wall, I had to attach the bar. I faced the bar in towards the latch to relieve some of the pressure on the hinges when closed.
Once the latch and bar were attached, I was done! As you might be able to see from my photo, there is still a slight angle from one side to the other, but it is not nearly as pronounced as it was without the added fence post. It certainly isn’t the most attractive setup, but it’s functional and safe as far as I’m concerned. Maybe one day I will paint the gate white so it matches my trim, but today is not that day. Today is a day for fully functioning baby safety projects. Aesthetics aside.
I eventually need to come up with a solution for the bottom of the steps, too. That space is even more awkward than this one. *Sigh*