This is a little hard to describe; I've added a diagram to (hopefully) make it easier to understand, but apologies if it doesn't make sense.

I'm looking to add a stair gate at the top of my stairs. The problem I'm having is that the wall on one side of the stairs finished much earlier than the other, and at the end of the top stair, there is only a wall on one side.

It seems that I have two options, either get a tall gate and install it where the walls are parallel, leaving one step to fall, or affix some sort of post to the shorter wall so that I can attach the gate to that. Neither seems particularly ideal and I'm not sure the second is really viable, but am I missing something quite obvious, or is there perhaps a known and advised way of solving this problem?

Any help would be very much appreciated!

enter image description here

  • So there's approximately 12" exposed on the side?
    – isherwood
    Aug 1, 2019 at 12:51
  • I would say as a very rough estimate that may be about correct, but I'm afraid I've asked this question when I'm away from my home, so I can add proper measurements later, sorry Aug 1, 2019 at 12:52
  • from which directions are people likely to approach the gate?
    – Jasen
    Aug 1, 2019 at 22:35
  • @isherwood I'd say it's actually far less than I remembered, the difference between the walls is around 4" Aug 2, 2019 at 7:27
  • @Jasen People could approach the gate from either the stairs, the left, or the right, the gate faces a wall quite soon after the stairs Aug 2, 2019 at 7:28

6 Answers 6


I would get two Evenflo wooden baby gates. I suggest this model for its proven, simple design and wooden construction.

enter image description here

Then do this:

Shorten the second gate

  1. Separate the mounted and sliding panels of one gate assembly. You can probably just bend the slide brackets as you won't be reusing them. Set the sliding panel aside, as you won't reuse that either.
  2. Remove the the slide brackets from the mounted panel. I suspect that these are simply screwed on, but grinding of rivets may be necessary.
  3. Cut the top and bottom rails of the mounted panel to the dimension where they'd intersect the gate that will come across the head of the stairs at 90 degrees. Don't cut too close to a vertical baluster to avoid weakening the panel. Use a miter saw if available, and bevel the cut corners slightly so they're gentle on skin.

Connect the two gates

Using new hardware of suitable size, connect the mounting brackets of the intact gate to the cut ends of the shortened gate. You'll want to drill and use secure bolts to so so. Don't rely on short wood screws. Sleeve bolts would give a nice appearance, but nylon-insert nuts on regular bolts would work.

Mount both gates to the wall

You now have essentially created an extended, articulating gate. Using the same procedure outlined in the product instructions, mount the shortened gate to the wall corner along the stairs, and the spring clip receivers to the wall parallel to the stairs.

________ ▼-- spring clips           ▼-------- intact gate's mounting hinges
       | ____________________________ _
       | __|______________________|__| | ◄-- connection with new bolts
 wall  |      intact gate            | | 
       |__________________________   | | ◄-- shortened gate
       |                          |  | | 
       |                          |  |_| ◄-- mounting hinges OR spring clips
       |        stairs            |__|_|_______________
       |__________________________|          ▲-- wall
       |                          |

Benefits and options

  • Clean, simple, inexpensive. Only modest woodworking skills required.

  • You can swing the gate to the reverse side when it's not needed since the gate-gate connection is hinged.

  • Of course, you could use the sliding panel for the shortened gate, with its spring clips, and the entire thing would be easily removable.

  • The entire thing is mounted with a few screws and is therefore removable when baby reaches a suitable age (and reinstalled when s/he becomes a teenager).

Stability concerns

If you find that the assembly wants to sag at the corner, you could do one of two things:

  • Add a wooden "leg" or small wheel for support.
  • Rigidly connect the two panels of the intact gate so they act as a shear plane with one screw in each of the top and bottom rails. This would require you to move the entire assembly when opening and closing the gate, which could wear the carpet unless you use a slider foot. This would also resolve the problem of baby lifting the gate.
  • 6
    Good work on that ASCII diagram there.
    – KlaymenDK
    Aug 2, 2019 at 11:14

They make a variety of gates for just this kind of thing. They typically have 3 segments with adjustable angles.

For example at Amazon:

Flexible gate

That middle segment is the normal gate, but the whole thing can swing/fold if needed.

  • The problem with this is that it'll jut out awkwardly into the hallway for this situation unless one panel can be shortened. It's not a drop-in fix.
    – isherwood
    Aug 2, 2019 at 14:05
  • 3
    @isherwood, every one of these, that I've seen, allows you to detach panels if so desired. People have been refining these readily available designs for decades now. No need to try to reinvent the wheel. Aug 2, 2019 at 14:34
  • How does detaching panels help here? We have a 4" leg and a stairwell leg of around 42". What configuration do you suggest that covers the stairwell without jutting out into the traffic flow? You either have to cut across the stairwell drop or shoot out the opposite way. Your answer is basically "buy a gate that fits", which doesn't help.
    – isherwood
    Aug 2, 2019 at 14:35

I would put a false wall or barrier as shown in red for the gate to latch to, see image.

enter image description here

  • 1
    The problem is that the stairs aren't to code, +1.
    – Mazura
    Aug 1, 2019 at 23:36
  • 1
    @Mazura so that is something that you should make clear in your original pist as it might affect all answers, not just mine.
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 2, 2019 at 5:04
  • 3
    @Mazura which "code" are you talking about? That term doesn't even apply according to the location in the OP's profile ("building regulations" would be more appropriate and I don't think they forbid this)
    – Chris H
    Aug 2, 2019 at 7:49
  • 1
    Structural stability of the red part might be an issue over time... it might need an angled support to ensure it stays at 90 degrees Aug 2, 2019 at 8:01
  • @vikingsteve depends what it is fixed with, fixed to and made from... Three vertical bits of 2*4 braced appropriately may well be sufficient and probably stronger that some of the other answers. But the OP did not give existing wall structure...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 2, 2019 at 8:09

What about a custom L-shaped gate that would fit around the contour of the top stair, mounted on the corner near the top stair on the right side of your diagram? It would need a lot of space to swing open on the upstairs landing, and lock to the wall on the left side of your diagram.

There are also configurable gates with joints that allow some of this flexibility, but you'll want to ensure that they've been JPMA certified. Most of these that I've seen are for keeping pets out of rooms.


Don't put a gate there, it is unsafe. Mount the gate farther up the hallway, or in a bedroom door.

Pressure-mounted gates simply press on opposing walls. They should be used only where falling isn't a hazard, such as between two rooms or to discourage your little explorer from climbing up stairs. Pressure-mounted gates are not secure enough to use at the top of stairs, so never use them that way, no matter how much you want to avoid drilling holes into your walls. Avoid accordion-style gates without a top filler bar and gates with horizontal slats or tempting footholds. Source

  • 3
    The gate's only "unsafe" if it's a pressure-mounted gate (which, given the layout, isn't really an option anyway). Consumer Reports is making that statement to discourage the use of pressure-mounted gates in such locations, as opposed to hardware mounted gates. You quoted one item of two from a bulleted list, the other being: "Hardware-mounted gates are bolted to framing inside the walls of your home. They're appropriate where there's a chance of your child falling, such as the top of a stairway, whether indoors or out." The solution is to use the right kind of gate, installed securely.
    – FeRD
    Aug 3, 2019 at 4:38

I have this problem at the top and bottom of the stairs I was advised not to use safety gates on stairs to only use them on doors

  • did you just attach them to all doors in that case? Aug 2, 2019 at 21:28
  • @OliverRadini, Don't use them directly across stairs (as some of the answers dangerously show). But using segmented gates to create landings to protect stairs is both perfectly safe and the only way to safeguard your loved ones from most stairs. ... You need the landing to deal with whatever item you bring with you on the stairs (that requires 2 hands), and also to protect the pet or kid when (not if) they leap/climb the gate/fence. Aug 3, 2019 at 16:54

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