When we moved into our house a year and a half ago, both my husband and I decided we needed a gate for the top of our stairs. The way our stairs are situated is a little hazardous in my opinion. The are to your left right after you come in the front door, and at the end of the hallway.
(forgive the really old picture, just wanted to show the position of our stairs)
So, you can imagine with three young children who love to run through the house, we wanted to secure the area so no one fell down by accident. Although, even without kids, me being as clumsy as I am was afraid I might fall down the stairs as well. That being said, a stair gate was the first of all our building projects.
Luckily, a neighbor of ours had built one of his own out of scrap wood that looked pretty good, and he had a box of scrap wood he gave us to do the same thing. We didn't know what we were doing, but we figured since the wood was free we couldn't go wrong. Even if it sucked, it gave us experience building without plans. And this is what we came up with:
Not bad for winging it with free wood, right? Well, you can't really see it close up, but it had issues. For starters, we made it too big for the opening, so when you tried to open it it wouldn't open more than about a foot because it hit the wall it was screwed to. So we had to chop about an inch off that side so it would swing all the way, and this was after we stained it. So now we have the moulding chopped off and the whole side not stained. (We always said we were going to stain it so it wouldn't look so stupid, but it never happened) Then, the screws we bought to screw the hinges in to the gate were too long and ended up sticking out. It was potentially hazardous, so I put black play dough on them. On top of that, it was flimsy and stuck out in front of the wall. So really, this gate was pretty ghetto, but it was functional. It kept the kids out, it swung open and shut, so, as much as my husband wanted to take it down and build another I convinced him to leave it and we would fix it later.
(The close up. I almost forgot, this was also the first time we had used a finish nailer, can you tell? ;)
Fast forward a year and a half and there we were with the same ghetto gate. My brother and sister in law decided to move into our basement for awhile, and in the process the gate cracked a little where the bottom hinge was. A few days later my daughter polished it off by standing on it.
So here we were with no gate, and now 4 small children(my niece Kailyn) and no stair gate. Needless to say, that had to be the next project on our list of "to do's". My husband had bought a stair gate plan long ago from a website called Gates2U for $5. So our gate is a modified plan of theirs if anyone is interested. The one thing that was really helpful about it is it gave us the formula to figure out how to space out the planks for the front of the gate. That was a MAJOR pain in the but with our first gate!
So a week after the first gate bit the dust we came up with this:
No play dough, it fits the opening, is very sturdy, no brad nails hanging out, and in general just looks better! Now we have a gate to last us hopefully as long as the house lasts us. All we have to do if we want a change is paint it a different color.
So, even though our first gate cost us nothing, this gate was about $25 including paint and primer. Not bad considering wooden gates like ours go for $70-$150!
If anyone is interested in the step by step you can email me!
Update: I now have a stair gate tutorial here.