Choosing The Right Staircase

Choosing the right staircase for residential or commercial buildings can contribute to the style and safety of your project. This guide will offer details and tips about the different types of staircases in order to facilitate your search.

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  • How to choose the right staircase?

    JELD-WEN Traditional Staircase

    JELD-WEN Traditional Staircase

    To choose the best staircase for your project, there are a number of key criteria to consider, including the different types, materials and design options. Understanding what’s involved in planning a staircase and being familiar with building regulations are also key to making the right decision.  Points to consider when choosing a staircase :

    • Planning
    • Building regulations
    • Type
    • Material
    • With or without risers
    • Design options

     

  • What do I need to consider when planning a staircase?

    When planning a staircase, you will need to consider a number of factors. Start by evaluating the space available for your staircase. Be sure to take into account the number of landings and the minimum headroom required.  Here are a few other elements to consider when planning your staircase:

    • Number of turns and type of staircase
    • Commercial or residential?
    • Indoor or outdoor?
    • Number and type of users
    • Budget available
  • What do I need to know about staircase building regulations?

    Staircase building regulations differ depending on country and region, and there may also be differences depending on staircase use. This is particularly the case for residential projects versus commercial ones. If you are getting your staircases made to measure, make sure your artisan is insured and follows the local building regulations. Factors to consider are:

    • The maximum pitch (angle) of the staircase
    • Head room required
    • The maximum and minimum depth of the treads and height of the risers
    • The minimum height of the balustrade
    • The distance between balustrade railings
    • Maximum number of steps before a landing is required
    • Maximum and minimum width of staircases
    • Relevant fire regulations
  • What types of staircases are available?

    The main types of staircase are spiral, straight, quarter turn and half turn. Choose the type according to the space available for the stairwell, the head room available, regulations, ease of use and design. While many staircases are made to measure and installed by professionals, there are a number of modular designs and kits for simple installations.

    • Straight Staircases are simple to install and to use. The space underneath a closed staircase can also be adapted for cupboards or shelving.
    • Quarter turn and half turn staircases often have a landing at the turn. This can allow less mobile users to take a rest and may even be necessary if your regulations impose a landing after a certain number of stairs.
    • Spiral Staircases are available in both round and square forms and are either supported by a central column, walls or stringers. Round forms can be a great central element in spaces for access to mezzanines and attics, while square forms may be more adapted to stairwells against walls or corners. Spiral staircases are often chosen for their design or to save space, but they are more difficult to use than straight staircases. Larger circular staircases can make a great design feature for buildings with large entrance halls such as boutiques, hotels or cultural buildings.
  • How to choose an outdoor staircase?

    INOX DESIGN Outdoor Staircase

    INOX DESIGN Outdoor Staircase

    There are a number of use case scenarios that make outdoor staircases necessary. They can be for regular use to access a principal entrance, a terrace or balcony.  They may also be for occasional use, such as for a fire escape, or to access a roof or facade for maintenance purposes.

    When choosing an outdoor staircase, be sure to consider the maintenance, anti-slip textures, weather resistance, comfort and ease of use. Staircases for entrances to apartments and buildings can have a big impact on the overall presentation and daily use.

    • Think about how the staircase will fit with the existing design scheme, and whether the material of the treads should match existing paving, decking or tiling.
    • Ensure that the materials are suitable for the exterior, non-slip and finished with a protective coating if necessary.
    • Check local codes for access requirements. Public buildings and collective housing might also require ramp or elevator access.

    Exterior fire escape staircases provide a secondary means of escape from multilevel buildings. Sizing requirements will depend on local regulations, the type of building, number of levels, number of occupants and the alternative means of escape available.

  • How do I choose material and style?

    SILLER STAIRS Glass Staircase

    SILLER STAIRS Glass Staircase

    The material of the structure, steps and balustrade can have a big impact on the aesthetics of your space, as well as on the safety, maintenance, comfort and illumination. Many staircases are made of a combination of materials for a range of contemporary, traditional and original styles.

    Wooden staircases are timeless and available in a number of styles. Wood is soft and warm to the eye; it’s a workable material which is lighter than concrete, stone and glass alternatives. There are many all-wood staircases available, but a wooden structure can also be combined with steps in other materials such as metal or glass.

    Metal staircases can come in a wide variety of styles, from ornate traditional cast balustrades to slender minimalist floating stair designs and more industrial stair designs with embossed metal steps.

    Glass staircases can help maximize light in stairwells and have a strong aesthetic appeal. All-glass staircases use structural glass as a support and a barrier.  They are great for minimalist design schemes, but tend to be very costly. Glass steps can be paired with a metallic supporting structure for a more economical solution.

    Concrete staircases are a robust and heavy choice. Precast concrete staircases are often used in fire escape stairwells for public buildings, due to their fire resistance and robustness. They can also be a design feature; elegant waxed concrete precast spiral staircases can give a great minimalist and industrial look. A concrete supporting frame can be combined with other materials such as glass and metal to create a more open lighter appearance or stone treads can be used to add prestige or a more classic design appeal.

  • Staircases with or without risers?

    Staircases with risers are the more common option for traditional wooden or precast concrete staircases. They tend to be safer and easier to use. Staircases without risers have a lighter, floating appearance and are a popular choice for staircases supported by a central column or stringer.

  • How does the type of stringer impact the staircase design?

    MARRETTI Cantilevered staircase

    MARRETTI Cantilevered Staircase

    The stringer is the support onto which the staircases are fixed. The form of the stringer can have a big impact on the style and elegance of the design of a staircase, as well as the cost and ease of installation.

    • Lateral stringer staircase: The stringer is visible on one side or both sides of the steps and risers.
    • Central stinger staircase: The steps are fixed to a central support underneath the staircase. This is more common for staircases with open risers and gives a lighter appearance than closed stringers.
    • Suspended staircase : The steps have the appearance of floating or suspended with little support. To achieve this appearance, sometimes the stringer is concealed in the wall and the steps are attached to the stringer.  Floating steps can also be cantilevered from a central supporting column or supported by a structural glass balustrade.
  • What other staircase options are available?

    OFFICINE SANDRINI Illuminated staircase

    OFFICINE SANDRINI Illuminated Staircase

    There are a number of options for  staircases that help save space or assembly time. Other options can highlight a staircase’s design.

    • Compact staircases can save floor space with alternating stair treads or a narrower footprint than a regular staircase. While this type of staircase may be permitted in certain situations, such as access to storage rooms, it is important to check local regulations.
    • Illuminated staircases can be used to highlight the design, or help make steps more visible in dimly lit areas.
    • Prefabricated or kit staircases are constructed of standardized modules, so they are easy to install and often less expensive than made to measure options.
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