Designing the stairs is perhaps the most important part of building a house, for instance.
They not only need to be located in the optimum location, but they also need to be safe and to satisfy various rigorous rules. It is for those reasons that they are often redesigned during the build.
Rules and regulations for Staircase building
Every staircase must abide to these rules:
- Riser maximum height is 200mm (7-3/4 inches)
- Any open side of the stairway must have balusters which do not allow sphere larger than 110mm (4-3/8 inches) to pass through
- The treads minimum depth is 250mm (10 inches), viewed horizontally in-between every nose of adjacent treads
- The handrail top needs to be 860 to 970 mm (34 to 38 inches) above the pitch line
- There needs to be 2 meters (80 inches) of headroom clearance along the entire length of the stairs.
- The landing length is ideally 5 feet, or any multiplier of 5, for smooth movement
- Each landing needs to be approximately 5 feet apart so that the user can see everything clearly when coming down the stairs
- An ideal landing site during the staircase is every 9 to 11 steps for the most optimum effort required to climb or descend
How to implement a staircase design you see somewhere else into your own home?
This is a very tough question indeed.
As you can no doubt conclude from the rules above, every house practically has a staircase tailored to fit its own space. You can’t simply se a staircase and make just one like it. Even if you adopt it to your space, there are still plenty of other specifications you need to go over before making a successful adaptation.
You are most likely to see a good staircase you like on the pages of some interior design magazine, but know this – interior designs that make it to the pages of those magazines are custom made and are in no way meant for mass production. You can entrust the task of staircase design to a staircase design specialist company that could adapt an already existing design or come up with a new one.
You can find a good variety of modern staircases in UK and adjust some of their features like height, width and number of treads to fit perfectly in your interior space.
Get the right fit
Determining the size of your staircase is naturally the first step in designing. First, measure the complete rise, from the finished floor below to the same above.
Next, you need to calculate the number of risers you will need. The minimum going according to the building regulations is 220mm, but the staircase pitch should not be greater than 42°.
Width is free of all regulations and you can go with whatever you want, but there are some standards for the sake of aesthetics. For instance, if standard flights are 860mm, ideal width should be between 800 and 900 mm, while the secondary staircase should have a minimum of 600 mm width.
Turned, Spiral, or Straight?
Next up, you need to figure out the best way your staircase will get from the point it begins to the point it will end. The simplest and cheapest way to do things is the straight staircase, but as you may already assume it will often not work.
A commonly accepted rule is that the staircase beginning is best located somewhere near the entrance to your house, ideally in the same room you are when you get through the front door. This method is vital even if you have for instance a three storey house, because your stairs will act as a fire escape route in case of an emergency.
In case your staircase cannot be straight, the next best thing to do is to split the flight in two. The easiest way to organize them is to connect them with a 90° landing. The 180° turn is what is known as the half landing.
Steps that are located at the turns of your staircase are called ‘winders’. They are generally used for the 90° turn. IF you have a turn that contains three winders, it is what is known as the ‘kite winder’. Kite winders are most commonly used at the bottoms and tops of stairs to effectively get around the corners.
Do you need staircases for small spaces? You could try using a spiral staircase. They are also amongst the most expensive methods, but in return they probably look the best and conserve your space most effectively. So, it’s a trade off.
A combination of the handrails, spindles, and newel posts is called the balustrading. These are the elements that are mostly responsible for the look and character of your staircase. This is where you can get creative, as you can easily transform a plain straight flight of stairs into something really special.
Balustrading can also be formed out of any materials used in building, like metal, glass, timber, or even stud walls. People nowadays usually keep things simple, with a glass panel and metal tension wires, while not so long ago they were elaborately carved and looked intricate. Today, you can purchase balustrading from any DIY warehouse, a timber merchant, or a staircase specialist. Another way to make it is by a joiner.
When talking about versatility, timber is the best material for your staircase, because there are no limits to the shapes and sizes you can achieve. A traditional home should have a substantial wooden staircase, with turned balusters, carved newel posts, and a round stair nosing. The basic wooden staircase is nothing more than chunky wooden treads cantilevering from a wall. (As above)
Pros: Wood is versatile, strong, easy to maintain and has that classic timeless look.
Cons: Wood does not have many cons and that is why it is such a popular staircase building material. As long as you remember not to use too dark and heavy wood, you should be good.
Engineered pine or plywood is by far the cheapest option. They are ideal for a fully carpeted staircase with painted balustrading. The second cheapest option is parana pine, that is also affordable and often used in combination with hemlock, which makes a good option for balustrading because of its stability. Hardwoods are the most expensive options, such as oak, ash, beech, etc. They can be from twice to five times more expensive than softwood.
Acrylic and Glass
If you are looking for a more glamorous look for your house, a glass staircase will be perfect for you and it will also allow more light to flow within the house in general.
Pros: The look absolutely perfect for contemporary interiors. Two or three layers are laminated together to make it strong and stable, so don’t worry about that.
Cons: They are prone to scratches and surface damage, and definitely cannot be used if the stairs are the fire escape route, because the glass is easily flammable.
Looks have a price, and it is rarely affordable. You need to choose your supplier carefully and be smart in combining materials if you want to have the slightest chance of low costs. You can have a local glassworks shop make panels you will use as balustrading, and then combine them with softwood to cut down on your costs. Engaging a specialist is perhaps the most expensive option.
Contrary to what you may believe, metal staircases are lighter than those made from timber. They used to be only used in industrial spaces, but have made the transition to home staircases.
Pros: If you want to make the spiral or straight stairs, metal is the perfect choice for you. Paired with glass balustrades, metal staircases will look excellent.
Cons: You need to put a lot of work into the design, because metal staircases that are plainly designed will look too much industrial.
It was never as easy to get the components as it is now. You can purchase full metal or timber staircases for £ 500-600 easy.
Concrete and Stone
You can design stone or concrete stairs to look really traditional and authentic. Concrete can be very simple, while stone stairs can really look impressive. Concrete stairs are usually assembled on the spot, while being precast before delivery.
Pros: If you want to create a sense of stability, this is the way to go.
Cons: They are expensive and require time to get made after you order.
This varies greatly. They can be really expensive, only starting at a staggering £ 10.000. If you want to go cheaper but still make the stone look, you can clad your existing stairs with panels made of stone.
Safety and ease of use are the primary criterions as it is regulated by laws and building codes. On the other hand, if you only want to replace your existing staircase or some part of it, this is your chance to do something special.