How to Install a Baby Gate Without Damaging Your Banister!

Lauren Skeldon
by Lauren Skeldon
5 Materials
45 Minutes

Ready to baby proof, but don’t want to damage your pretty banister? We’ll show you how to install a baby gate on a banister quickly and damage-free!

  • Active Time: 30 minutes for the first baby gate, 15-20 for each gate after that
  • Total Time: Same as above
  • Cost: I spent $90/gate and $35/banister adaptor (Your cost will vary depending on your gate, if you need the adaptor, and what tools you need to pick up)
  • Difficulty: Beginner (Big Skills are Using a Drill, Impact Driver, and Drywall Anchors)
  • Help Needed: You can definitely do this solo, but it does go quicker with a pal. I’ve done about 3 baby gates solo and I’d definitely add 10 minutes to the install time if you do.

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said . . .

baby gate at top of stairs

Choosing a Baby Gate

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right baby gate for your family and your space. And, we’re not going to get into that here. But, I can tell you we love our Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gates (and that’s what I’m installing in this post)! We did a lot of research on the safest gates (wall mounted is the way to go–sorry to all you who were hoping not to break out a drill/driver), as well as ease of use and install, and these kept coming up. We bought 3 for our duplex, and we couldn’t be happier with them.

These gates are easy to install, easy to use, and safe. There’s no bar across the ground to trip over (not that Steve did that with a different gate and spilled hotdogs and mac and cheese all over our dining room wall or anything . . .) They mount on the wall with screws, making them harder for your toddler to knock down. And, they’re adjustable for different spaces and different needs.

After installing all three of them two times now, I think I can say I’m speaking as an expert at these gates! 🙂

Banister Adaptor

banister adaptor for baby gate

The Safety Innovations No-Hole Stairway Baby Gate Kit is the key piece of equipment to install a baby gate on a banister, damage free! I paid $35 and bought two for our townhome (we had banisters on the top and bottom of our stairs), and let me tell you. Worth. Every. Penny.

These stairway gate kits work just as described; they’re easy to install; they leave zero damage to your bannisters; and they’re reusable if you move!

I’m speaking from experience here, I promise. I installed 2 of these kits in our townhome and uninstalled them when we moved. There was zero damage to either banister. And, I just reused ours in our new home, and they were just as easy to install as the first time! Definitely grab one if you’re putting up a baby gate on your stairs.

Ok, Here’s the Your Actual Supply List

  • Baby Gate
  • Banister Adaptor (if you have a bannister)
  • Drill with 5/32″ drill bit for the adaptor and one slightly small than your drywall anchors
  • Impact Driver
  • Stud Finder
  • Drywall Anchors and Screws (in case you can’t install on a stud)
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Level

Ready to get started? Put the baby down for a nap, and let’s go!

(Remember: These steps are for the gate and adaptor I used. If you choose to use different ones, the steps may differ slightly, so make sure you follow the instructions provided with your gates).

How to Install a Baby Gate on a Banister

Step 1: Install the Banister Adaptor First

Your banister adaptor is going to affect where you install the baby gate on the wall, so make you install the banister adaptor first. Here’s how to install the banister adaptor I love. I labeled these steps with letters, so you don’t get lost in the gate install steps:

banister adaptor parts

1A: Get Ready to Install the Post Clamps

Place the wood blocks into the back of the clamps.

wood inside post clamp

Determine where you’re going to put the clamps. The clamps don’t need to line up with the gate at all (that’s what the wood strip is for). But, you do want to make sure the clamps aren’t going to get in the way fo where you install the gate’s latching mechanism. (i.e. you don’t want to have the screws that attach the wood strip to the clamps to be in the way of where you need to screw the latch mechanism into the wood strip).

cutting wood strip with saw

If you have a lot of extra wood, you can always trim the wood strip down with a jig saw/circular saw/miter saw if you have one. This step isn’t required; it’s just to make it look prettier for you. And, power tools are fun. 🙂

woman holding saw

1B: Install the Post Clamps

installing post clamp

If you have square posts: Then, insert the front clamp into the back clamp surround the post, and secure it with the included bolts and your impact driver (a screwdriver works just as well if you don’t have an impact driver).

If you have round posts: Use the provided round post adaptors and place them between the front and back of the clamp next to the post, then secure the post to the bannister with the included bolts and your impact driver/screwdriver. (For the Safety Innovations Bannister Adaptor, there is only one set of round posts. So, if your post is completely round, you’ll need an additional set of round post adaptors–best part, Safety Innovation will send them to you FOR FREE! The info on how to get them is in the install instructions.)

Before you move on to the next step, make sure your two clamps are level with each other. If they aren’t, your gate may not install correctly.

If they aren’t level, you may need to place a shim or two between the clamp and the post to make the two pieces level (I didn’t have to do this, so I don’t have pictures of this step).

1C: Drill the Pilot Holes for the Wood Strip

drilling pilot hole into wood strip

Use a 5/32″ drill bit in your drill, drill a pilot hole through the wood strip and partially into the clamp. Do not drill more than 1.25″ deep.

Repeat for the second clamp.

1D: Screw the Wood Strip into the Brackets

attaching wood strip to clamp with driver

Now, using the provided 1.5″ screws and finish washers, screw the wood strip into the clamps through the pilot holes, using a screwdriver or your impact driver.

Ok! Adaptor Installed! If the plain wood bothers you, you can paint or stain it to match your bannister! And, if the wood piece is taller than you’d like, you can cut it using a circular, miter, or jigsaw. But, none of that affects the function, so you’re good to keep installing your gate. You can worry about the aesthetics later 🙂

One last note, make sure you only install the latch mount to the bannister adaptor. You should always install the stationary portion into the wall, as it will be more secure into the wall vs the wood strip.

banister adaptor for baby gate

Step 2: Decide on Gate Placement

This is where you’re going to hold your gate up and decide where on the walls you are going to install your gate. Our gate requires the wall mount to be no more than 6 inches from the floor, so we started from there (that height makes sure the gate isn’t too high that your baby could crawl under it).

You want the gate to be installed in as straight a line as possible. Some gates require that they be installed straight across. Our gate has some allowance for errors (another reason we love it), so we weren’t as concerned about getting the two mounts perfectly across from each other.

Once we decided on placement, we made a mark with a pencil at the top of where the gate would be, on the wall first, and then on the bannister adaptor, so we knew where to install the mounts in the next steps.

Step 3: Install Stationary Wall Mount

Ok, time to get started with the power tools!

Line your stationary wall mount up with the mark you just made in Step 2. Make sure the wall mount is the correct distance from the floor (ours was 6 inches per the instructions). Then mark the screw holes with a pencil.

Put the wall mount down, and pick up your studfinder. If your holes are on a stud, great! You can use your impact driver and screw your wall mount directly into the wall!

If your holes are not on studs, you need to use drywall anchors. This is especially important for the safety of the baby gate. You don’t want your toddler to fall into the gate (or shake it) and have it come off the wall.

Steve was excited for this project so we took turns installing gates. We did 3 in an hour, so there was plenty of work to go around!

Drill a hole, using a bit slightly small than your drywall anchor, on each screw hole mark for your drywall anchors.

Then pick up your drywall anchor and install it in each hole.

I love these screw-in drywall anchors. They seem to be the easiest to use, break the least, and the most sturdy I have used.

hammering in the drywall anchor

To install these screw-in drywall anchors, hammer them in until the screw part is flush with the wall.

screwing in drywall anchor to wall

Then, simply use your screwdriver and screw the anchors into the wall until they are flush to the wall (I use the back of my screwdriver because you don’t need that much force after drilling the pilot hole).

holding wall mount against wall

Then hold the mount up to the wall, and line the holes in the mount up with the drywall anchors. Using your screwdriver or impact driver, screw the mount into the drywall anchors.

wall mount installed on wall

Step 4: Attach Gate to Stationary Wall Mount

Now you’re ready to hang up your gate! Ours is on this hinge system, so here’s pictures of how to put it together:

Thread the rod through the 1. Mount 2. Plastic Piece 3. Gate

threading rod through mount

4. Gate 5. Plastic Piece 6. Mount

gate rod and mount

Then install the metal ring through the hole at the bottom of the rod, so it’s safely attached to the wall mount.

This step seems really complicated, but it’s actually super easy. You just need to get the pieces in the right order, which is why I spelled them out clearly.

Now your gate should be installed on the wall and should swing freely! Yay! Almost there!

Step 5: Install Latch Mount to the Banister Adaptor

installing latch mount to banister adapter

Now it’s time to install the second mount (the latch mount) on the banister adaptor. Start by holding the latch mount against the wood of the banister adaptor. Then extend the gate until it’s the proper length to latch it on the latch mount.

You may need to move the latch mount up or down so you can latch the gate.

Once you can latch the gate, unlatch it, and mark the screw holes of the latch mount on the wood of the banister adaptor with a pencil.

Now, line up the latch mount on the holes you just marked. Using the included screws with your gate and the impact driver, screw the latch mount into the wood.

Pause Before You Complete This Step:

If you only want your gate to swing one way (aka you don’t want your gate to swing open over the stairs, only open towards the floor), you’ll need to screw the optional one-way stop bracket in while installing the latch mount. Make sure you have that lined up over the upper latch mount screw before screwing the latch mount into the wood, with the bracket facing the direction you don’t want it to open to.

installing one way stop

Voila! Latch mount installed!

latch mount installed on banister adaptor

Step 6: Adjust Gate as Needed

set screw in baby gate

Latch the gate, so it’s secure. From here, you should tighten the set screw that holds the gate at the proper width, using the included allen wrench. Otherwise, your gate is going to be changing widths every time you grab it.

And, Done!

installed baby gate on stairs

Your first baby gate is installed! This took us about 30 minutes, all in. And, we’ll be painting the wood strip to blend in with our railing later on. But, for now, E is safely trapped on the first floor.

Now you can move on to the other 1 or 2 or if you’re lucky like us, 3 gates you need to put it up to keep your home safe for your newly mobile little one. By the time you’re done, you could probably write your own post on how to install a baby gate on a banister 🙂

Looking for more DIY content? Make sure you check out the A Girl's Guide to Home DIY for all your beginner-friendly, how-to guides!

Suggested materials:
  • Baby gate
  • Baby gate bannister adaptor
  • Drill
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