Dealing with screws, mounting plates, and drilling holes can be a real puzzle for new parents attempting to install a baby gate. But hey, if it means babyproofing your home like a boss and ensuring your little one won’t outsmart it, it’s a challenge worth taking on!
As a mother of toddlers, I vividly recall the time when I mistakenly received a hardware safety gate with an incorrect Philips screw which was promised to be part of the package. I guess the brand though I’d just go to Walmart and buy the correct one. Nope. Not me. I promptly returned it. My experience with tinkering around with hardware baby gates has granted me valuable insights into which brands are reliable.
In this guide, I have shared detailed reviews of the best hardware-mounted baby gates based with some insight on safety based on my personal experience using the brands and have highlighted safety elements I observed while testing them in the reviews below.
I strongly stand behind hardware-mounted gates as the safest type of safety gates for babyproofing and while they can be a bit intimidating to install, they are worth the effort. Compared to pressure-mounted options, hardware-mounted gates are more secure and can withstand the weight and force of a curious toddler. Plus, they can be mounted at any angle, making them suitable for different areas of your home. With screws and sturdy mounting plates, hardware-mounted gates are sturdy and reliable.
Which one is the best hardware-mounted gate (expert opinion)?
The best hardware-mounted baby gate is one made with sturdy, rock-solid mounting plates and frames, forged from heavy-gauge aluminium. In terms of safety, the best hardware-gate brands should have a safety latch and must meet ASTM F1004 standards for safety. For optimal user experience, they should be easy to install, following a clear step-by-step process. Additionally, they should offer effortless opening and closing functionalities.
In my rigorous comparison of the top Regalo and Cardinal Gate brands, I found the Cardinal Gate SS30 Brand to be the best hardware gate in terms of safety and durability. This gate meets ASTM F1004 standards for children up to 2 years old, has a smooth latch mechanism, is easy to install, and can be mounted at any angle. The SS30 model also comes with an added feature of adjustable width, making it versatile for different areas in your home. I have reviewed this brand in detail below.
What is a hardware-mounted baby gate?
A hardware-mounted baby gate is a safety gate that is securely attached to a wall or door frame using screws and mounting plates. These gates provide a physical barrier to restrict access for babies and toddlers, making them safer in areas of the home that may pose potential hazards such as stairs or rooms with breakable objects. Unlike pressure-mounted gates, which use tension to stay in place, hardware-mounted gates provide a more permanent and secure solution for childproofing your home.
Why choose a hardware-mounted baby gate? 8 Benefits
While both types of safety gates have their benefits, hardware-mounted gates offer unique advantages that make them the preferred choice for many parents. Some reasons to consider choosing a hardware-mounted baby gate include:
- Increased stability and strength: As mentioned earlier, hardware-mounted gates use screws and mounting plates to secure them in place. This makes them more stable and sturdy, even when placed on uneven surfaces or at unusual angles.
- Suitable for top of stairs: Hardware-mounted gates are the only type of safety gate recommended for use at the top of stairs by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The strong attachment to the wall or door frame provides an extra layer of security to prevent falls.
- No trip hazard: Pressure-mounted gates have a bar on the bottom that can pose a tripping hazard, especially for adults. Hardware-mounted gates, on the other hand, do not have this bar and therefore eliminate this potential danger.
- Long-term use: Since hardware-mounted gates are more permanent fixtures, they can be used for longer periods. This makes them a cost-effective option in the long run compared to pressure-mounted gates that may need to be replaced over time. Safety gates safety standards set by CPSC expect hardware-mounted gates to undergo 2,000 cycles of fully opening and closing while pressure-mounted counterparts are expected only under 550 cycles.
- Difficult for children to open: Toddlers are known for their impressive ability to figure out how to open things they shouldn’t. Hardware-mounted gates are typically harder for children to open, making them more effective at keeping little ones safe.
- Versatile placement options: Hardware-mounted gates can be used in a variety of locations, including doorways, hallways, and even angled areas. This versatility makes them a great option for homes with multiple hazards that need to be blocked off.
- Can support heavier weight: Due to their secure attachment to the wall or door frame, hardware-mounted gates are typically able to support heavier weight compared to pressure-mounted gates. This can be helpful for households with larger pets or children.
- Aesthetically pleasing: Many hardware-mounted gates are designed to blend in with home decor, making them a more visually appealing option compared to pressure-mounted gates that can be bulky and stick out.
Disadvantages of Gates Mounted with Hardware:
- Potential for damage to walls: One downside of hardware-mounted gates is that they require drilling into walls or door frames for installation, which can potentially cause damage. However, this can be minimized by using wall-friendly mounting hardware or filling in holes when removing the gate.
- They require drilling: As mentioned before, drilling into walls or door frames is necessary for installation. This can be a daunting task for some homeowners and may require additional tools and skills.
- Not as portable: Unlike pressure-mounted gates that can be easily moved from room to room, hardware-mounted gates are more permanent fixtures. This means they are not as convenient for households that need to frequently move the gate to different areas.
- May not fit all doorways: While most hardware-mounted gates are adjustable, it’s important to measure your doorway or opening beforehand to ensure the gate will fit properly. This can be a hassle for older homes or unique spaces with non-standard door frame sizes. Some brands such as Cardinall, our top pick, have an extension that you can buy separately.
- More expensive: In general, hardware-mounted gates tend to be more expensive than pressure-mounted gates. However, the added cost may be worth it for the extra security and stability they provide.
What to Look for When Choosing a Hardware-mounted Gate:
Overall Best Hardware-mounted Baby Gate:
Cardinal Gates SS30 Stairway Special Baby Gate:
Our overall best safety gate that is hardware-mounted is a Cardinal brand called Cardinal Gates SS30 Stairway Special Baby Gate. We crowned this brand as the ultimate champion of safety features! Certified by JPMA, it’s not just a one-hand opening for adults, but also opens in both directions. Talk about a brand that knows how to make an entrance!
Its safety features are rooted in its hardware mounting and specifically its one-way stop bracket which prevents the gate from opening over a stairway, providing an additional layer of security and peace of mind. The child-safe latch in this gate is designed to be a breeze for grown-ups to open (with one hand), but it’s a real head-scratcher for those mischievous little monkeys. They’ll need to summon their best ninja skills to crack the code but even then, they won’t manage.
This one-way stop bracket worked wonders for my household. We needed to block off the staircase to the basement, and now my child can’t work their magic to open the gate and give me a heart attack! Safety first, folks! Before I stop talking about safety, I thought I should also mention that this brand was awarded the “Best Baby Gate” by Wirecutter in 2021.
The fact that it is a JPMA-certified gate means that rigorous testing has proven that it passed the requirement of egress panels being able to undergo 2000 cycles without failure. That’s more than enough for any family even if they have children who want to break out of their confinement. Read more about the CPSC’s latching mechanism requirement in the safety gates standards.
What’s more, the latch system gives the gate the ability to mount at angles up to 30 degrees, allowing it to be set up in more unique angles and fit studs that may be located off-center in drywall. All these features make the Cardinal Gates SS30 Stairway Special Baby Gate the perfect solution for parents who want the best in safety and comfort.
Don’t you just love it when installation is a piece of cake, especially for those of us who struggle with it? This gate was a breeze to install once I got the hang of it. It gave me a bit of a hard time at first, but hey, the second time’s the charm! I even turned into a pro and helped a friend with it. Double the fun, double the gate-installing expertise!
The package contains all the necessary hardware for installation: a hinge bracket, a hinge rod, Philips screws, washers, key rings, and a mount latch assembly. You will need a Philips Screw Driver, a pencil for marking, a drill with a 1/8″ diameter drill bit, and an Allen wrench for tightening the bolts.
Cardinal Gates has a helpful PDF manual here but can also watch the installation video below with 5 easy steps to install it.
- Installing it was a breeze! No tape? No problem! I measured the distance with a ruler and the drilling and screwing were a piece of cake. Easier than I expected!
- Cardinal Gate’s website provides instructions so simple, even a squirrel could follow them. And if that’s not enough, their installation videos are as helpful as a squad of handy hamsters.
- The weight is so light that it effortlessly spans the 60-inch space without getting weighted down or becoming difficult to open.
- I found the gate sturdy enough and used it for the entire period my kid was 6 to when he hit 2-yr-mark.
- If you have uneven walls, you can mount on it too.
- Some users noted that it looks nice when installed
- The gate swings smoothly in either direction, with a safety latch
- It is made by a reliable manufacturer that has been in business for over 25 years.
- It is very easy to find replacement parts.
- I like that they have extensions for wide wall openings up to 64 ft – sold separately on Amazon here.
- Sometimes, the screws need to be readjusted and tightened with a screwdriver. I believe that through regular use, this adjustable part can become misaligned, resulting in the gate no longer closing smoothly.
- Others have complained that it’s NOT easy to install, and that may be true if you are not handy. I agree with this as you have to have a drill and know how to use it. I strongly think it still worth it though.
- Some users found the unlocking latch to be easy to use, and mentioned that it took a bit of getting used to. If the latch is on the left, it can be opened easily with the right hand. Similarly, if the latch is on the right, it can be opened easily with the left hand. Therefore, if you are right-handed, you may need to train yourself to use your left hand
Best Hardware-mounted Gae for Stairs:
Munchkin® Loft Hardware Mounted Baby Gate for Stairs
Another great option to ensure the safety of your little one on the stairs is the Munchkin® Loft Hardware Mounted Baby Gate for Stairs. It is slightly smaller than the Cardinal SS30 brand mentioned earlier, with dimensions extending between 26.5 – 40″ wide and standing at 30.5″. In comparison, the Cardinal SS30 gate has an opening of 27″ – 42.5″ wide and stands at 29.5″.
I found the Indexed Sizing System that this brand has to be superior to those of Cardinal SS30 Gate above. It allows for quick and easy width adjustments with pre-set index positions and an Integrated Tuning System to adjust for a perfect vertical fit even when walls aren’t level, you can be sure that the gate is secure and won’t move no matter what.
The Quick-release wall mount also allows you to easily remove the gate for high-traffic times or entertaining, and the door swings open in both directions. Plus, the double-locking system on the handle is convenient and easy for adults to use, but it’s difficult for children to open, giving you added security.
I should, however, indicate that I could not find any information on the manufacturer’s website or on its marketing materials indicating that this is a JPMA-certified safety gate like the Cardinal brand above. This does not mean it is not safe. But it is just something to keep in mind when making your final decision.
Reviews of Other Baby Gate Brands with Hardware Mounting
KidCo was the first company to introduce metal safety gates in the US in 1994 and has since been most parents’ favorite brand. Its Safeway is among the most cherished KidCo hardware-mounted baby gates in the industry that is specifically designed for the top of stairs use. This gate features a hinge side hardware that can be mounted on an angle even on tricky stairs.
All the gates by the KidCo brand are made using heavy-duty tubular steel with robotic welding and form-fitting. As such, they are strong enough to withstand your child’s banging and durable. We liked how easy it is to operate with one hand plus the quick-release hardware that lets you remove the gate easily when not needed.
Available in black or white colors, this baby gate from KidCo is ideal for openings that are 24.75 to 42.5 inches wide and have a height of 42.5 inches. You will like the stay open feature as well as the directional stop feature that prevents this baby gate from swinging over the stairs.
If you are looking for a tall hardware-mounted baby gate, you will love the Extending XL baby gate from Munchkin. It is one of the greatest choices on the market today and currently ranks in the top 100 in the Door & Stair Baby Gate category on Amazon. It is suitable for kids aged 6 to 24 months old.
This Munchkin baby gate is meant to be hardware mounted on openings that measure 33 to 56 inches wide and have a height of 36 inches. We liked the high-quality steel, sleek, modern design in a white color that complements your home décor perfectly. The in-built hinge mechanism features a unique structure that reduces stress on your walls when opening and closing. So, you can be sure that no significant damage will be made.
What we liked most about this Munchkin baby gate is its versatility and customization. When using it on the stairs, it opens on one side which prevents trip hazards. But if you install it on your doorways, it offers a two-way opening option. In addition, it has a handle with a locking mechanism that is easy to operate with one hand for you.
Are you on the hunt for extra-wide hardware-mounted baby gates? Toddleroo by the North States is a great choice! This baby gate is designed for oversized openings and spaces that are 60 to 103 inches wide and stand 27 inches tall. It is safe for babies 6 to 24 months old and is in the top 100 in the Door & Stair Baby Gate category on Amazon.
This safe baby gate is easy to hardware mount which improves its stability while in use and comes with all mounting brackets and hardware. Although the gate swings on both sides for convenience, it does not swing fully which prevents trip hazards and has no threshold bar either. That plus being JPMA certified guarantees baby safety. The baby gate comes with an easy, one-hand operation latch that makes it easy for you to get in and out of the blocked area easily.
This safety baby gate is made in the USA using sustainably sourced wood comes in a natural wood finish that matches well with any home décor.
Regalo 2-in-1 Stairway and Hallway Wall Mounted Baby Gate
Do you need a hardware-mounted baby gate for the top of the stairs? You will love this baby gate from Regalo! Thanks to its universal top-of-stairs design, this robust gate is compatible with 99% of all stairway openings. The gate is ideal for protecting your 6 to 24-month-old kiddos from potentially unsafe stairways.
This wall-mounted safety baby gate is designed to fit openings that expand between 29 to 43 inches wide. It stands 30.5 inches high and features a durable steel build that keeps your little one safe when they are not within your arm’s reach. We liked the convenient walk-thru door that allows you to walk hassle-free with a simple squeeze of the latch handle. The door opens smoothly using the Smooth Glide tech and features a safety lock that is easy for adults to operate.
For reliability, this baby gate has an in-built leveler that ensures an even installation across the stairway for optimal safety. If you want to install this Regalo baby gate without damaging your woodwork or banister, you can use the adapter kit that comes with the purchase.
If you need a hardware-mounted baby gate for the bottom of the stairs, we would recommend the Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Gate. It has been highly rated by parents as effective for the purpose with an auto-lock feature and a white color that matches cutely with your house décor.
Summer Infant Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure Wood Gate
Our review would be incomplete without mentioning this hardware-mounted wood baby gate from Summer Infant. Perfect for use with toddlers, the gate stands 32 inches tall and is designed to fit openings 30 to 48 inches wide. It is also in the top 100 in the Door & Stair Baby Gate category on Amazon.
This baby gate allows you to babyproof your home in style with a beautiful wood design in a golden oak cherry finish that complements all décor. The Summer Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure Wood Baby Gate gives you all the peace of mind you need with your child at home. We loved the unique comfort grip handle that allows for easy one-handed release for ease of use. Although this baby gate does not auto-lock, it has no threshold that could cause tripping hazards.
The Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure is fitted with a removable swing stop mechanism that prevents it from swinging over stairs which might cause injury. It is easy to install in between hallways, doorways, and stairways and comes with a unique Precision Fit Template kit.
Where to buy
Do you live in the US, Australia, Canada, or other regions and are looking for the best hardware-mounted baby gate? You can buy them on Amazon using the links we provided above. They are also available in other stores such as Walmart, Target, Wayfair, among others.
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Emily Larsen is a renowned expert in babywearing and has been actively advocating for safe babywearing practices since the birth of her first child. With a background in consumer behavior research, Emily combines scientific knowledge with practical experience to offer valuable insights on choosing the right baby carrier and ensuring proper usage. She is also the founder of Babywearing SFO, an organization dedicated to promoting safe and comfortable babywearing practices. Emily is a certified babywearing educator and regularly conducts workshops and webinars to educate parents on the importance of safe babywearing.