A DIY Baby Gate

When we moved into our first home, Greta was about 14 months old and we used one of those cheap baby gates for a brief period of time–maybe a month?–before she got the hang of the stairs. I was so happy to put that thing away! Now, Faye is 8 months old and getting very mobile, so we knew we would want a baby gate for the top of the stairs for her and for Charly, too, (without going into too much detail, Charly isn’t allowed downstairs when we’re not home for, ahem, sanitary reasons) for the next good while. Our stairwell is extra wide and after looking at our options, we decided to just make a “built-in” one ourselves. Because, let’s be honest, there just aren’t very many attractive baby gates out there. Here’s what we came up with!

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Since this entry area is already pretty spindle heavy, we wanted to keep the gate as non-existent (but still safe, of course) as possible. That’s how we came up with the idea of using heavy duty plexi-glass in a wood frame.

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It’s there. It’s sturdy. But it also blends very nicely, too. I didn’t take a ton of in progress pictures because we busted this out during Faye’s nap (read: as fast as possible!), but here’s how we did it:

Materials Needed:
(1 8ft) rounded edge 2×2 pine board
(1 8ft) squared edge 2×2 pine board
(1 6ft) 1×2 pine board
(1 8ft) 2×3 board
(2) hinges
(1) latch
screws
wood filler
medium grit sandpaper
table saw or router
1/4 inch plexi glass (we picked ours up at our local Ace. They cut it to size, too!)

Our gate is basically a thick sheet of 1/4″ plexiglass in a wood frame made of 2x2s on three sides and a 2×3 on the bottom. Once Chris cut each board to size (our baby gate is 42″x34″), he routed out the wood 3/8″ deep and wide enough for the plexi to sit inside. He opted to use our table saw for this, repeatedly running it through until the groove was wide enough, but you could also definitely use a router if  you have one.

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Important note! This is when you might want to paint/stain your frame. Right now. BEFORE you screw it all together. We made a rookie mistake and waited to paint it until it was all together, so you can see some of the unpainted routed groove at some angles. Not a huge deal, but save yourself the face palm.

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Since the sides of the gate are almost always hidden because it is closed, we thought that would be the best place to drive the screws in. We pre-drilled the holes so we wouldn’t risk splitting the wood, and although you can still see where the channel for the plexi was routed out on the edges here (see image above)–that is on purpose. It was nice to see where the routed part was for this step, so we could be sure to avoid hitting the plexi while screwing it all together. Afterward came wood filler for those holes and other imperfections, then sanding it all smooth.

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We kept the protective plastic covering on the plexi during this whole process to, well, protect it, but pulled it back just a couple inches so it wouldn’t get stuck in the wood. After everything was sanded smooth, we put on a couple coats of the same paint we recently used on our banister: Clark+Kensington Exterior High Gloss paint in TomCat. Originally we talked about staining the wood, but because we wanted it to be as seamless and camoflauged as possible, introducing another color or wood tone to the mix might just draw more attention than we wanters.

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For the hinges, we used these stainless steel 1 inch door hinges so that we could rest easy knowing our gate wasn’t going to sag or rip off of the wall. For extra measure, we attached a 1×2 (painted the same color as the wall) to the wall for support and also so the gate could swing more freely.

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During Faye’s naps and through the night, we leave it open and it rests nicely against the stairwell wall.

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It actually latches on the stair side of the gate. Greta can reach it from the opposite side, which we wanted. We did screw the eye of the latch right onto our banister, but it’s nothing a little wood filler and paint won’t fix once we’re done with it.

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Truthfully, Faye hasn’t been too interested in the stairs (or strangely the tree!) yet, but we are at peace now knowing we can run to grab something from the other room or change a load of laundry without fearing her making a break for the stairs.

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Though we went back and forth on how we wanted to build the gate, we’re so happy with how it turned out, and especially happy it only took a couple hours. A simple project, with little visual change but a big safety impact–exactly what we wanted. Though Faye may be having mixed feelings about her new restrictions.

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30 Comments

  • Reply November 7, 2016

    Danielle

    This is a wonderful idea and great detailed instructions. If you had the time, you should sell these on Etsy. People would pay good money for them…I know I would!

  • Reply October 1, 2016

    Neil

    I love the idea but I have one concern, the bolt. Once the child can reach it……

    If it’s well out of reach it could be difficult for adults, especially ones who can’t easily bend over to reach a low bolt. Anyone got any ideas for a childproof / quick & easy release catch?

    • Reply October 2, 2016

      Chris

      For us it wasn’t much of an issue, because once she was old enough to reach it, we weren’t worried about her ability to go up and down stairs. But that works for us because our gate was meant just to keep Faye from falling down the stairs. Some people use them to keep kids out of certain rooms or areas, but we don’t really have any “off limits” areas of our home for our girls so it works well for us.

  • Reply August 18, 2015

    Ashley

    Love it! The gate is on our to do list. Where did you get the rug in the hallway??? I need it!! :)

  • Reply June 1, 2015

    Elbio

    That’s one of the cutest kid pics I’ve ever seen! Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Reply January 5, 2015

    mary

    what a great project! spotted this on apartment therapy. It looks great in your home and that last pic is priceless. thanks for sharing.

  • Reply December 19, 2014

    Alison G

    FYI This baby gate just got posted on Apartment Therapy.

  • Reply December 18, 2014

    Jen

    Love this so much and I am suddenly feeling inspired to come up with something pretty for our pets! So much better than anything that can be purchased at the store. Way to go guys!

  • Reply December 17, 2014

    Julia

    this is genius! My in-laws need a baby gate for their dog. I am definitely pinning the idea for them!

  • Reply December 16, 2014

    emily

    well, that is probably the prettiest baby gate i’ve ever seen. i’m super impressed with the lines and the quality!

  • Reply December 16, 2014

    Kieria

    I think the gate looks beautiful! I would want that baby gate. If I had stairs (or if I had a baby…). I think it looks super secure and safe and obviously you had those exact specifications in mind when you made it. Just because it’s see through doesn’t mean it somehow became more dangerous for the baby to put her face against it than a traditional baby gate/fence. Certainly looks a lot studier to me than most store-bought gates but without the sore-thumb factor. It’s a win/win. Good work!

  • Reply December 16, 2014

    Jackie

    The gate you made is beautiful and very well done – but posting on this topic makes me super nervous for some reason.

    Should you add in some kind of disclaimer? Sorry for being such a weirdo worrier.

    Best,
    Jackie

    • Reply December 16, 2014

      Julia

      Maybe? We should probably have a disclaimer on the blog in general! We’re not experts! But, in the USA there are no mandatory federal child safety gate standards beyond those for toxicity of materials, small parts and sharp edges or points. So even baby gates that you can buy in the store are not guaranteed to keep your child safe. Kinda crazy, huh? Europe, and I think Canada too, have a lot more requirements and testing for baby gates.

      • December 16, 2014

        Jackie

        Whoa – that is so crazy! Thanks for the detailed reply (especially since it was such a strange comment for me to make). That’s very interesting. And I know I said it already but this seriously looks amazing. This is hands-down the most beautiful baby/pet gate on the internet. I feel like you’re going to get a lot of praise and attention for it. :)

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Steph Nelson

    A prime example of keeping it simple bringing the best results. I bet it is more secure than most store bought baby gates too. I bought a few when I my dog was a pup and I couldn’t get over how flimsy those things are.
    Nice job!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Lindsay

    Great idea with the plexi glass and I love the picture of the baby ‘testing the fence’! We have a 7 month old and are in process of building a gate for our stairs that will let the heat up from the stove in the basement, let the cat through, and keep the baby safe!

    I look forward to more of your ideas as you update your new home!

    Lindsay

  • Wow, what a stylish gate. Way better than anything they sell in store.

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    jennifer witte

    This gate is totally cute I love it but that being said I feel like it’s a major safety hazard. The fact that it is clear may give the baby a false sense of security , seeing her lean against it in that picture makes my stomach hurt. The first time you forget to shut it my be bad….. there’s really no way for a little to comprehend a clear gate . I think this Is why they are no sold like that , kinda like why people put stickers on their windows for birds and dogs.

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Maria

    Your eye is just so good. Soo good. This looks amazing. I will file it away for someday when we have littles or pups running around!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Robin

    Great job! It blends in so well, and the last pic is adorable.

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Lindsey @ A Pear to Remember

    So wild, baby gate decision have been a big deal for us the past two weeks since we got a puppy. She is an Australian shepherd, and they are known for how high they jump, so I didn’t want a standard baby gate. We got the regalo Extra Tall easy step gate, it is metal and white. I really love and smoothly it opens and closes, but initally it was my hubby just so appalled thinking it’s an eyesore. I reme=inded him they wouldn’t be us forever and after one day, the peace of mind made it all worth it.

    The one you made is so, so beautiful, I wish we could do something similar. Dog slobber probably just wouldn’t work ;) Still–speaking of clear furniture—I have been considering these clear tables for our new home—what do you think?

    http://www.cb2.com/peekaboo-clear-nesting-tables-set-of-3/s173274?a=501&adpos=1o1&creative=55841373549&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&country=US&gclid=CIvIi9XUyMICFSdn7AoddjwA-A

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Britani

    This looks great! And so creative too! I like how it almost looks like a picture frame hanging on the wall when the gate is open. Seriously loving all your stairwell/landing upgrades lately :)

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    allison

    We have extra wide stairs and needed to make our own baby gate- I have to say, yours looks miles better than ours does:) Great job!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Lauren M

    Great idea! For unknown reasons, the stairs to our basement have a door at the bottom instead of the top, so we might have to do the same thing. Looks great!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Meagan Briggs

    Lol Faye! She’s adorable. Great work on the gate!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Laura @ Rather Square

    This looks so much better than the typical store-bought baby gates!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Em

    It looks great, but are you concerned about having to constantly wipe it down? I feel like that would easily get fingerprints, dog nose prints, etc. all over it. I don’t mean to rain on your parade at all! Just wondering what made you choose plexi-glass?

    • Reply December 15, 2014

      Julia

      Like I mentioned in the post, Faye really isn’t interested in the stairs right now. I really don’t think this will be a hangout by any means. It’s strictly for safety when Faye is awake. We chose plexiglass because it fit the vision we had and it’s safer than actual glass and cheaper than tempered glass.

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    julia

    That’s that best looking baby gate I have ever seen!!!

  • Reply December 15, 2014

    Haley

    Faye’s face in the last picture is adorable! This is great idea and looks amazing in your place.

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