Gate Basics

 Use this pet gate primer for handy tips and safety insights

Purchasing a pet gate for your furry friend doesn’t have to be difficult. Let us explain the terminology and educate you on finding the right gate for your needs. A pet gate or pet yard can help protect your pet from getting into mischief or creating an accident in your home. It can also help prevent unwanted messes and keep your pet confined to designated areas of your house, giving you peace of mind that they’re secure and safe.

JPMA Certified

APA_LogoLook for products that have APA approval. The American Pet Association (APA) testing and research ensures that a product is approved for real-world intended usage and is considered safe, humane and as-advertised. If you have children in your home, as well as a pet, always look for pet gates that display the JPMA Certified Logo. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is a trade association that has developed a stringent safety certification program that has been keeping parents reassured for more than 50 years. All North States pet gates and pet yards are certified by the APA and JPMA. They are safe for use with pets and children.

Type of Gates 101

There are several types of pet gates available, with these being the most common:

Pressure-Mounted Gates:

A pressure-mounted gate is held in a doorway or opening by applying pressure against the doorframe or walls. No hardware or tools are needed for this type of mount. Here are the most popular varieties:

1pet_basics_pressurePortable Pressure-Mount: Portable pressure-mount gates typically have two sliding panels that can be adjusted to fit your opening, plus some type of pressure arm or locking mechanism that holds the gate in place. To pass through, you remove it from your doorway or slide the panels back. These types of gates are usually the most budget friendly and can be quickly installed and removed. The portability of these gates makes them especially helpful when traveling with your pet.




1pet_basics_walkthroughWalk-through Pressure-Mount: The distinguishing feature of a walk-through pressure-mount gate is a swing door that allows for easy pass-through without removing the entire gate. Walk-through pressure gates are typically made of metal or wood, and may also come with optional hardware to enhance the strength and security of the opening. Walk-through pressure gates work well in high-traffic areas, but we do not recommend these gates for the tops of stairs.

Hardware Mounted Gates:

Hardware-mounted gates require permanent hardware and screws to be installed into a solid doorframe or wall stud. The benefit of these gates is the extra security they provide – necessary, for example, at the top of a staircase. Some wall and/or woodwork touch-up may be needed when the gate is removed (a little spackle or wood putty, stain and paint will usually do the trick). Please note: hardware-mounted gates should never be screwed into drywall or plaster alone.

2pet_basics_hardware_nothresholdHardware-Mounted without a Threshold: These hardware-mounted gates swing open and closed for pass-through without a threshold to step over. Many, but not all, hardware-mounted gates can be used at the top of the stairs, provided that the gate has a stop feature that ensures the gate can only open one direction; you do not want the gate to swing out over the stairs. As with all gates, be sure to follow manufacturer instructions regarding whether the gate you choose can be used at the top of the stairs. Many of these gates can be adjusted to varying widths to fit your space.



2pet_basics_hardware_thresholdHardware-Mounted with a Threshold: Hardware-mounted gates with a threshold are useful in wide or irregular spaces, or openings that need extra strength and security. These gates have a swing door for easy pass-through. Look for models that can be easily removed from the hardware when not in use.

Freestanding Enclosures:

Freestanding enclosures do not mount to any walls and can stand alone when positioned in an interlocked formation. A common name for this type of enclosure is a pet yard or exercise pen. These can be made from plastic, wood or metal and can feature a variety of colors. Pet yards are great for creating an enclosed, safe exercise space for your pet. Look for models that fold up to be compact, for easy portability. Plastic models can often be used indoors or outdoors. At North States, we have a wide range of plastic, wood and metal pet yards to meet your needs, including the Petyard Passage, which comes with a small pet door, or the 3-in-1 Chesapeake Arched Metal & Wood Petyard with a large-breed door.

1pet_basics_freestanding1 1pet_basics_freestanding2

Common features defined:

  • Stay-Open/Hold-Open: Swing door will stay open if pushed past 90 degrees.
  • Self-Close/Auto-Close: Swing door will automatically close behind you.
  • Childproof Latch: Latches are dual or triple action, making them difficult for a young child to open.
  • Safety Locks: Extra locks to ensure that your child can’t open the pet gate.
  • Hands Free: A foot pedal is used to open the gate.
  • Angle Mount: Gates can mount at an angle, where mounting points are not directly across from one another.
  • Extensions: Bars, slats or panels that are added to a gate to increase width.

How to select the right gate

There are 3 easy steps to selecting the correct gate or enclosure for your space.

1. Determine Your Location:

Common locations for pet gates are between rooms and hallways, at the top of stairs, bottom of stairs, and to block off areas of the home you do not want your pet to access. You may also want to create an enclosed exercise space for your family pet. Your location will determine the type of gate or enclosure you need.

Between Rooms DoorwaysFree Standing EnclosureTop of Stairs

Our recommendations:

1pet_basics_betweenBetween Rooms and Hallways: Pressure-mounted gates are a smart choice for use between rooms and hallways. Portable pressure gates, such as the North States Extra-Wide Wire Mesh Petgate, can be conveniently moved throughout your home. If you have a very active pup, you may want to select a gate with the option to hardware-mount. For high-traffic areas, we suggest a gate with a walk-through door. Look for gates that have sturdy latches with extra locking features, such as the North States Easy-Close Petgate and Windsor Arch Petgate.

1pet_basics_blockingBlocking Areas: Using extra-wide or flexible gates can be a smart way to obstruct areas of a room where you do not want your pet to roam. Measuring over 12 ft. wide, the North States 3-in-1 Petyards are perfect for blocking off large areas of an open floor plan. Choose from multiple options, including wood, metal and our combination Chesapeake Arched Metal and Wood Petyard.

Top of Stairs: Hardware-mounted gates are the only choice for tops of stairs. We recommend a sturdy hardware-mounted gate with no threshold to step over. When installing a hardware-mounted gate at the top of the stairs, always make sure the gate swings toward the landing and not out over the stairs. Look for products with a security measure that only allows the gate to swing in one direction. Follow the manufacturer’s installation directions and, after installing, check the hardware frequently to make sure it has not become loose. North States has several top-of-stairs gates in wood, metal and plastic to meet your needs.

1pet_basics_indoor_outdoorIndoor and Outdoor Containment: Pet yards are ideal for keeping your pet safe in your home while creating an enclosed place of their own to roam. North States plastic Petyards are also weather resistant, offering a great way to keep your pet contained outdoors.





Pressure Mount2. Measure Your Opening:

Carefully measure the width of your opening, from side to side, where you intend to install the gate. Look for a gate that has the appropriate width dimension listed. Be aware that mounting may be more challenging at the lowest and highest ends of the gate’s width range, depending on the gate style and manufacturer.  Some gate products include extension bars or panels inside the box. Refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions on which extensions to use to precisely fit your opening. You will also want to consider the full-grown height and jumping ability of your pet when choosing a gate. Several of our models, such as the Extra-Tall Easy-Close Gate, come in heights up to 36”.

pressure_mount Hardware-Mount3. Select Your Mounting Type:

Remember that if you’re installing a gate at the top of the stairs, a hardware-mounted gate is a must. Pressure-mounted gates offer quick installation and no marks on your walls, but hardware-mounted gates offer extra strength and security. Determine which of these types works best for your location, and your pet.

Other Tips

Quality matters: Look for sturdy materials and construction. Going for the lowest price is not always the best strategy with pet gates or pet yards. For further helpful information, watch our Product Demos.

Do your homework: View instruction manuals, videos and reviews online before you buy to make sure you are getting the gate you need.

Once installed, check your gate frequently! Make sure the tension knobs and/or hardware have not become loose.

Once installed, check your gate frequently! Make sure the tension knobs and/or hardware have not become loose.

Recalls: Have a recall question? You can search for recalled items at or at

WARNING! Do not leave a pet or child unsupervised or rely on gates to keep a pet or child safe. These products may not prevent all accidents!

Now that you know the basics, the North States Gate Selector Tool can help you find the gate that is right for you!


North States has a little something for every family and home! Preview our selection of premium safety gates and play yards for babies and pets, as well as our charming bird houses, feeders and accessories. Our variety of products can be purchased in major retail sources or directly through our website. Explore our wide array of safe, convenient play yards and gates or take a look at our unique selection of bird houses and feeders!


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