How to Build Your Own Deck Stair Gate {Backyard Safety}

Have you ever wished your deck could be a contained, safe place for your young children or your pets? You can easily build your own desk stair gate with these simple step by step instructions and a few, easy to find materials.  No woodworking experience necessary!

DIY Deck Stair Gate for Backyard Safety

The backyard is where the family magic happens.  Whether it’s the kids on the play set, tossing a ball with dad or making S’mores over the fire pit, it’s the place to be on a warm summer evening.  Sadly, our backyards are also full of little dangers, especially for younger children.  There are plenty of places they can find trouble… playsets for older children, trampolines, and stairs – just to name a few.  If you’ve had a child take a tumble down a set of stairs, you know exactly how dangerous and traumatic a fall down the stairs can be.  Now, in your home, your stairs are either carpeted or nice, smoothly finished wood.  Not so much on a deck, especially if it’s been around for a few seasons.  That soft little skin is met with sharper edges, rougher surfaces and the landing can be a little less cushioned.  That’s where our deck stair gate comes in.

What?  You don’t have a deck stair gate?  There’s a simple fix for the deck stair issue.  Make your own deck stair gate!  Sure, you could pay someone to do it for you, but why spend the extra money when it’s something you can easily do yourself.  From start to finish, this project should take you approximately 1 hr if you are already familiar with using a power drill and the basics of hanging hinges….a little longer if you are not, but still completely do-able!  It took me about 50 minutes to make this deck stair gate and that included snapping pictures as I went.

I live in the south.  This time of year it is nearly 100% humidity and mid-upper 90’s so working outside on my lunch break at 1pm was not very appealing.  I decided to set up shop in my dining room on the floor.  Just know that you’ll need to vacuum thoroughly afterwards to ensure that all of the bits of wood are picked up.  We have carpet in our dining room for now, but I wouldn’t advise doing this project on a floor surface that tends to scratch easily.

Deck Stair Gate Complete materialsTotal cost to build this gate was $47.  The most expensive part was $16 for two hinges, so if you’re thrifty and have time to look around you may be able to find hinges cheaper.  Just keep size and durability in mind when buying the hinges.  Also, the smallest box of deck screws you can purchase is 1lb, so you will have quite a few left over screws that can be used for other projects.  I used approx 1/5th of the box.

Materials needed:

2 – 1x4x8 pressure treated lumber (each board cut into two 41” pieces…Lowes/Home Depot will do 4 cuts for free, so you don’t even need a saw at home.)

9 – 1x1x36 pressure treated baluster (square ends, not angled)

36 – 2.5” x 9 – Ceramic Coated Deck Screws

2 – 4” Decorative Tee Hinges

1 – Gate Latch of your choice (Many styles available with different levels of difficulty to open…think about if you want your kids to be able to open the latch or not.)

1 – 1.5” Gate Hook and Eye

Tape measure

Marker/pencil to mark wood

Power drill

Phillips Head drill bit

Star shaped drill bit (typically provided in your package of deck screws)

Assemble the gate:

1)      Lay two of the 41” 1×4 boards on the floor parallel to each other.  These boards will be referred to as the “header” (top) and “footer” (bottom) boards.  Take your first baluster and line it up with the edges of the header and footer boards.  Be sure that all of the exterior sides of the baluster and boards are even.Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy 12)      Use your tape measure to mark 3.5” from the inside edge of the first baluster on the header board.  Make sure to mark both the top and bottom of the header board to ensure a straight line.  Repeat this process for the footer board.Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy 2 - measure3)      Continue measuring across on the header and footer boards, placing your balusters as you go.  Remember, the left side of the baluster should go to the right of your 3.5” hash mark that you made when measuring from the previous baluster.  Now, for this particular gate there will be approx a 4” space between the last two balusters.  If you want to be completely accurate and all balusters equally spaced feel free to measure down to the 1/10th of an inch mark, but for me that was going to take too much time and it doesn’t bother me if there is a tad more space between the last two balusters.

Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy 3 - all pickets4)      Once all balusters are in place, lay the two remaining 41” 1×4 boards on top of the balusters and parallel to the bottom header and footer boards.  This is where you will need to take a few minutes and ensure that everything is squared up on the top, bottom, sides, and corners.  There may be a couple balusters that stick out just a hair on the top or bottom, but as long as everything is pretty square you should be ready to start screwing everything into place.

Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy 4 - ready to attach

5)      Now, you could get all fancy and use clamps here if you were working on work horses or some type of building table, but I’m working on the floor so I’ll just use my weight to hold the boards in place for screwing.  You’ll want to have your box of screws within your reach for this step.  Start with the header boards and screw one of the outside balusters first.  Just make sure to go slowly with the power drill and insert the screw closest to the middle of the gate first.  Going slowly is key here otherwise you will split your boards.  The smaller the board, the easier it is to split it when inserting a wood screw.  If you split a baluster or two it is perfectly okay, just as long as the split is only at the top and does not completed split through the baluster or board.

Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy 5 - assemble6)      Once you have inserted two screws into the first outside baluster, move to the other outside baluster and insert two screws there.  Once your outside balusters are attached, proceed from either side and insert two screws into each remaining baluster on the header board.Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy 6 one end7)      Once you have attached all of the balusters to the header boards, repeat steps 5 and 6 for the footer boards.  Once the balusters have been attached to the footer boards, you have a completed deck gate!

Deck Stair Gate Floor Assy finalInstall the Deck Stair Gate:

8)      Now you are ready to install your gate!  Move your gate, hinges, latch, eye hook, and power drill to your outside install area.  Now, if you have another adult or teenager at home you could use their help in the install procedure.  I was at home by myself, so I gather up wood scraps to help raise and stabilize the gate into the proper install position.

Deck Stair Gate Outside install 19)      Once you have your gate in place, it is time to attach your hinges.  Play with the hinges first and decide how you want the deck stair gate to swing.  I prefer my gate to swing inside onto my deck in order to avoid one of our children potentially being knocked off the stairs by the gate swinging outward.  It’s really all about personal preference here, so decide what you want and what is best for your family.  I attach the top hinge first as it is always the easiest…..working low to the ground doesn’t give much leverage for screwing the hinge on.  It really doesn’t matter which you do first…top or bottom hinge.  Attach your hinges using the screws provided in the package.

Deck Stair Gate Hinge install10)   Once both hinges are installed, you can remove your wood blocks, or excuse your helper as you shouldn’t need them anymore.  Your deck stair gate is officially attached to your deck!Deck Stair Gate Final product11)   Now it is time to install the gate latch.  Depending upon which latch style you have chosen, your install may be slightly different than mine.  Most packages have instructions on the back explaining how the particular latch works as well as how to install it.  I chose a pretty simple and very standard type of latch that my 5 yr old can open.  Install the latching mechanism on your adjacent support post with the provided screws.  Then you will install the latch bolt to the gate as shown in the photo.Deck Stair Gate Latch install12)   Now the final step for your install will be to attach the gate hook and eye set.  Sometimes I prefer for the gates to stay open especially if we are going to be out in the yard playing.  I would rather not hear the gates slamming shut every 5 seconds when the kids run on and off the deck.  Let’s face it, if you have kids you totally understand their inability to leave a door/gate open.  It’s much more fun to slam it shut.   So, open your gate all the way to where it almost doubles back against your deck railing.  By doing that, you will be able to take your marker/pencil and mark a tiny spot where the eye should attach to the deck, and the hook to the gate.  You will use your hands to screw in the eye hooks, no need for a power drill here.

Deck Stair Gate Eye HookNow, step back and revel in the pleasure that you built and installed your own deck stair gate!  Of course, there are many different ways to build a deck gate.  There are fancier and more complicated designs, but if your main purpose is to have an inexpensive gate that you can build yourself, then this is a perfect deck stair gate for you!  I built this exact design about a year ago and installed it on the other set of steps and the gate is still in perfect shape so this is a tried and true design that has had no warping to date!

If you try this yourself, we’d love to see pictures!

{This post was written by The Head Mama’s super talented sister – say “hi!”}

 

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51 Responses to How to Build Your Own Deck Stair Gate {Backyard Safety}

  1. Roger Smith says:

    Very good instructions and a lot of fun building gate. Should last a long time.

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  3. This is a great project. I’m about to Pin it for later use. We added a deck last year and need an gate like this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Fantastic tutorial!! I sure could have used this at our old house. I was terrified to let the kids out on the deck. It was 2 stories up and I couldn’t find a gate that was safe enough. This would have been perfect!

  5. This is a great idea, and something we really need to install on our back deck. I never would have imagined I might be able to do it myself. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

    • mamamommymom says:

      My sister and I have found that with proper motivation and access to some tools, we can do just about anything!

  6. Michelle Fe says:

    Wow, very professional looking.

  7. MARVIN BROOKS says:

    THIS DIAGRAM LOOKS SO EASY I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY IT, THANKS.

  8. Monica says:

    This is an awesome idea, I love the design!

  9. I love this idea! I will definitely use it for my back patio this spring! Thanks for the tip!

  10. Carissa says:

    OH my gosh I love the photo with your FOOT in it! ha! :)
    Did you totally do this whole thing yourself?!

    • mamamommymom says:

      I’d like to say it was me, but that was all my sister. She designed, planned and executed the project on her own. She wanted to be able to put her dogs out for a while when the yard was wet without them coming in all muddy.

  11. Look at you DIY momma!! This is an awesome step-by-step, so detailed.

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  13. Fantastic tutorial – I have quite a few friends I can share this with! Thanks!

  14. shelby says:

    I am so not the handy person in the home. Grumpy is all the way. i’m impressed with your DIY gate!

  15. Wow, good for you for busting out the tools and getting to work! That is a great idea and now that my kids are older, I am wondering why I never had anything like that for my deck when they were little.

  16. Danielle says:

    WOW! You guys did a fabulous job with this!

    Danielle at Framed Frosting

  17. While I wanted to click on your white wine sangria recipe first, I knew this post was more imperative because of the fact that our deck gate is currently hanging by a thread. :-/

    OMG!! Thank you so much for this post because you make it look so easy!

    I’m still not going to attempt this, though. (I know where my limitations lie — I am liable to F-up a house made of popsicle sticks.) So I will give this to The Hubs to do, and make him a pitcher of white whine sangria for his efforts.

    Stopping by from SITS! Congrats on this day!

  18. You did this!? That’s amazing! Pictures and directions were great. We don’t need a gate right now, but if we ever do…and if I need a shot of energy after what I feel is a long day, I’m heading over here to your blog! (by the way, my kids often call me “Mimzy”) Visiting from SITS…

  19. Carly says:

    Love this, it’s genius!

  20. That looks awesome! Now all I need is a deck and a flat backyard! LOL!!

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  22. Seana Turner says:

    Excellent tutorial on how to do this. Your photos are wonderfully specific. I love the attention to detail in providing a hook to keep the gate OPEN as well… you are so right about not wanting to hear the gate slamming over and over again:)

  23. Jen says:

    Love it! You take the best pictures – so clear and easy to follow along with you. Love this post and have pinned it to my Make Me board!! :)

  24. Love it! I could have used something along these lines in my last house for my dogs. They can’t go up/down stairs so it’s always a challenge keeping them away fem them!

  25. Wow, that is amazing that you can make it look so easy! well done…

  26. Leah Sannar says:

    What a great idea… definitely something we would implement at our house! I love how user friendly your tutorial is too, very easy to follow.

  27. NailCentric says:

    Wow, this is a big project and you did great, it looks very professional.

  28. Chris Reville says:

    Thank you for the great instructions and pictures. Very nice looking gate.
    One thing to note is the 4 x 41″ pieces is assuming your entrance width is 41″. My deck gate width is 46″. So make sure you measure the width. (I apologize if this point was already brought up.) Again, great instructions. I’m off to Lowes.

  29. AJ says:

    Husband just built this for our deck and it’s awesome. Thanks for the tutorial. :)

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  31. Shurn says:

    Just built this gate. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Saved us a ton of money and the final product looks great! Thank you so much!

  32. Summer says:

    Thanks for sharing how you made this. My deck really needs a gate – you make it look so easy to make, I will have to give it a try!

  33. Really great tutorial. My husband put one of these on my above ground pool. He attached a spring too so that it closed automatically!

  34. Peter says:

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial , will be building this for my new pool deck today , I have just 1 extra tip for this. After you lay out your gate and are ready to fasten the material together, predrill the holes for your balusters using a drill bit slightly smaller than your screw and you will minimize your risk of splitting the wood . My apologies if this has been covered in a previous post.

  35. Wow! Fantastic tutorial and much cheaper than buying one!

  36. Shanice says:

    Great post! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  37. Monique says:

    Wow! Impressive. You made it look so easy. Thanks for linking up with Creative Style.

  38. Great idea! Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by and link up again. Have a great day!! Laura@Baking in Pyjamas

  39. Jill says:

    This is fantastic. I bet it is much sturdier than a store bought safety gate and it looks better too!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  40. Trish says:

    Wow!! What an awesome idea. Love the tutorial. Thanks so much for linking up with Creative Style. Have a wonderful week.

  41. Pingback: Professional Tips for Building a Sturdy Privacy Fence

  42. This is awesome! Pinned, and thank you for linking up at Wordy Wednesday!

  43. Molly Matter says:

    I am so psyched! I just finished the gate and am so proud of it! Perfect for PRIDE weekend, a DYI project. I got cedar pieces, had them cut at Lowes and then took a few hours the first day staining them pretty. My 14 mo. was out for a few hours. Then today I took her nap time to put it all together! Piece of cake! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Two tips: you need 4 pieces of the 1 x 4 x 8; and you need hinges that are not 4 inches on both sides or 3 inch hinges.

  44. Valerie Almand says:

    I was looking for an easy gate design to use for our deck now that we have grandchildren learning to walk. Everything else I found on line was way too complicated and ornate — this is perfect! Thanks so much!

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