Best Retractable Stair Gate

Safetots Advanced Retractable Safety Gate review

Customer-service fans’ favourite, Safetots is onto a winner with its retractable stair gate. The Safetots Advanced Retractable gate is reassuringly secure and its unique design means it fits a range of spaces inside and outside your home.

£54.95 + 5% off using the code MUMSNET19 at checkout

Pros

  • Retractable gate – so less obtrusive in homes where space is at a premium
  • Unique ratchet design means the gate can be opened without fully retracting
  • Flexible width fits a range of spaces without shelling out for further extensions
  • Safetots has a reputation for excellent customer service
  • Screw-fit mounting makes the gate safe to use in most places in the house, as well as outside

Cons

  • Screw-fit stair gate – which may not be suitable for rental properties
  • Mesh is not as solid as a metal or wood equivalent
  • Slightly tricky open-and-close mechanism

What are the key features of the Safetots Advanced Retractable?

  • Retractable screw-fit stair gate with white plastic fittings and mesh sheeting, suitable for the top of stairs (with safe positioning), bottom of stairs and doorways, inside and out
  • Not suitable for spindle banisters
  • Can be made to fit with skirting boards using Safetots Retractable Gate Spacers (sold separately)
  • No minimum width; maximum width: 120cm
  • Conforms to safety directive EN 1930: 2011
  • 12-month guarantee

RRP: £54.95

How big is the retractable stair gate?

Dimensions: 9cm (D) x 120cm (W) x 90cm (H)
Weight: 2kg weight

The Safetots Advanced Retractable is a thoughtfully-designed, clever gate that is unobtrusive when open and reliable when closed. The tough plastic mesh divider is not as solid as a metal or wooden frame, but is much sturdier and more secure than its retractable competitors. As a screw-fit gate, it’s suitable for the top and bottom of stairs, and for doorways both inside and outside the house, without the need for costly extensions.

The mounting brackets use an innovative tightening ratchet on a timer, which means the gate can be opened briefly without having to retract it – really useful in high-traffic areas. Although the open and close mechanism can be a little stiff, it’s manageable for adults and older children.

The assembly is surprisingly straightforward for a screw-fitted model, with helpful drill templates included, and Safetots has a reputation for over-and-above customer service that was appreciated by our tester.

safetots retractable stair gates in black and white

At £54.95, this Safetots model is more expensive than permanent pressure-fit or screw-fit gates but we think it’s a great buy if space is limited in your home.

How easy is the retractable stair gate to assemble?

Any stair gate that needs to be secured to the wall with screws will demand more assembly time than a pressure-fitted model. Thankfully, Safetots has made the process as easy as possible, with several thoughtful touches.

Drill templates have been provided, making it a cinch to drill holes in exactly the right position. Screws and wall plugs are also included in case you’re mounting onto concrete or brick. There are no extensions or conversion kits to buy separately.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you will be left with eight small screw holes in the walls or skirting when the time comes to remove the stair gate – not ideal if you’re in rented accommodation.

All-in-all, installing the gate is a stress- and swear-free 15-minute job. If you’d rather avoid using the illustrated instruction manual, then the video on their website is easy to follow.

In the unlikely event you come unstuck, Safetots encourages anyone having difficulties to call its customer service team, who talk you through the process step by step.

How does the retractable stair gate work?

Retractable gates comprise two parts: the extendable gate at one end, and the mounting frame to close it on the other. The Advanced Retractable gate is made from a tough plastic mesh supported by metal poles, which unroll from its holder to open, and roll back into itself to close. A ratchet on a timer holds the mesh gate firmly in place, whether extended or retracted.

It’s a race against the clock to close the gate once you slide the timer button. Within eight seconds, you need to release the gate, pull it across and click the metal pole into the top and bottom openings in the mounting bracket. But fret not, it doesn’t take long to get the knack.

If you want to open the gate without retracting, just slide the grey release button and release the pole.

If you wish to open and retract the gate, you need to slide the timer and release button to release the pole. If you don’t hold the pole in place, it whips back rather too quickly for comfort.

It sounds a lot to get your head round, but it really only takes a couple of attempts before you’re a pro.

Initially, the stair gate is a little stiff to unroll but an adult can manage it one-handed. Our tester’s older child (aged seven) mastered it with some practice but her younger child (aged five) struggled. This is a shortcoming if your toddler has older siblings in that age bracket.

Once extended, the stair gate stays taut and in place surprisingly well. When pushed hard by an adult, the mesh will move 6cm forwards or backwards from the centre line – it’s not enough to feel unsafe, and much better than other retractable competitors.

Is the retractable stair gate safe?

That 6cm of give in the plastic mesh means you need to follow instructions to the letter when installing the gate at the top of the stairs. The gate can’t be installed right at the edge or the top step, or your toddler could push the mesh forward and leave a potentially dangerous gap. Safetots are very clear about the minimum safe distance both in the instructions and on its website.

It’s also important to remember that the gate retracts at some speed, and you need to keep hold of the pole until it’s back in place. If you don’t, there may well be tears when the force of retraction whips the pole back into a nearby hand or face.

When it is correctly secured, the gap underneath the stair gate should only be a couple of centimetres. This is just large enough for a small hand, so we advise keeping an eye out when walking nearby, to make sure no one’s fingers get trodden on.

Unlike other stair gates, the Safetots retractable stair gate has absolutely no detachable parts, hinges or bottom bars to trip over, which is, quite frankly, genius. Even the metal pole at the end of the stair gate has rounded ends, so there aren’t any sharp corners to worry about.

Because it’s a screw-fitted gate, the Advanced Retractable remains securely fixed to the wall, even in the face of the efforts of toddlers, launched toys or excitable pets.

How easy is the Advanced Retractable to clean?

We tested the Advanced Retractable in white (it also comes in black), and while the shiny plastic mounting brackets didn’t seem to attract much dirt, our tester found smudges gathering around the buttons after prolonged use. These wipe clean without even a hint of elbow grease, though.

The mesh of the gate is a little trickier, however, with the potential for dirt to get caught in the tiny holes. Our tester found it easy enough to remove blackcurrant juice stains and baby food splatter. Mud proved a little more stubborn to banish but it was easily dislodged with a sponge once it had dried.

When you need to clean around the gate, it takes a matter of seconds to retract. The mounting brackets are unobtrusive and straightforward to vacuum around.

Is the Safetots retractable stair gate good value for money?

At £54.95, the Safetots Advanced Retractable is a little more expensive than its direct competitors, but earns that small premium with its solidity, its flexibility and the great customer service Safetots provide.

The gate requires a little bit of effort to open or shut, but it’s a great purchase, especially for smaller homes or a tight spot.

Available from the Safetots website and Amazon

If ordered directly from Safetots, two-to-three day delivery is free

Retractable Gate Spacers: £8.45 for two

About Mumsnet Reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage. Read our how we test page to find out more.

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Awards

  • Best Retractable Stair Gate 2018

How we test

As well as testing for time of assembly, our tester installed all the gates in 'high traffic' areas of the house, so they’d be opened or closed at least 40 times a day.

Read more »
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