It is hard to express how stairs have played such an integral part of human history, ancient architecture and modern design. To the normal person, a staircase is just part of everyday life, not much to think about them. Just a way of getting from one place to another, with only really thinking about staircases when renovating their own home.
Here are a few terminology words that will help you throughout this blog.
Treads – the platform you walk on.
Riser – The vertical element which separates the two treads.
Nosing’s – The lip at the edge of the treads that extend past the riser.
Stringer – The connecting piece at the side of the treads and risers.
The straight staircase is the common idea we all have about stairs. The straight staircase is the standard for any residential or commercial properties. With definite advantages to using this type of staircase over others, the straight staircase is functional and simple. This makes the staircase the easiest of all staircases to ascend and descend, with their simple design this makes the staircase easy to design and construct. This benefits whoever has financed the constructing of the staircase, as it means that the cost is reduced (cost can increase or decrease depending on detail and materials used in the construction of staircase). The simple design also benefits the construction because it makes the measuring for the railing much simpler. Aesthetically the simpler staircase lends itself to the minimalist and classic architectural design. With the possibility of having thinner treads, open risers and thin metal stringers can give your home the minimalist modern look that you may be looking for. Or you could go down the classic straight staircase route with thicker treads, risers and stringers. The materials you decide to use in the construction of the staircase can also affect how the aesthetic of the staircase can give to the room. A good example of this is if you decide to use materials such as stainless steel or glass you will get a more modern aesthetic compared to oak wood and carpet.
Even though straight staircases have many benefits they still have their flaws. Such as straight staircases require a fair amount of space and must be planned into the design for the room. Also, if the staircase exceeds 12 feet high then what is known as a ‘breaker’ will have to be implemented to break up the span, this, unfortunately, means that the length of the staircase is increased requiring more room and cost to construct the staircase. This, however, tends to happen in commercial construction and not to the everyday resident building a new staircase in their home.
Quarter turn (also known as L-shaped) stairs is a variation of straight stairs that utilise a landing section to create a 90-degree bend in the staircase. There are other variations of this type of stunning staircase, for instance, you could construct the staircase to have the landing near the top of the staircase (this is known as a Long L stair).
Even though quarter turn staircases are a variation of straight staircases, they have their own benefits that straight stairs do not have. The quarter turn staircase is known to be more visually pleasing and interesting to people walking around the house. The staircase also provides an added visual barrier between the floors that it connects, this increases privacy within the home and can reduce the noise travelling through the house. The quarter turn staircase is also a better option for your home is you have less space and can be located in the corner of the room which works well for design and space manipulation. Also, if someone with disabilities or tires easily, the landing section in the staircase can provide a safe resting point in which the person can rest. Some people even state a quarter turn staircase can be safer than a straight staircase, this is because if a person is to fall down the staircase, the 90-degree turn will catch the person falling before falling down the entire staircase. The visual benefits of the straight staircase also share with the quarter turn, in which different materials and options with treads, risers and stringers are customizable to fit the aesthetic that you are looking for.
With all the benefits of the quarter turn staircase, it isn’t perfect. The staircase is more complicated to build in comparison to the straight staircase, also a support is needed for the landing section of the staircase. This makes the quarter turn staircase more expensive to construct. Luckily however with the advancements in construction strength has allowed the supporting beam built into the wall so it can go virtually invisible. Or if your looking for the modern aesthetic slim steel beams can be used to create the desired look. And when used in rooms like a basement, the 90-degree turn can also make it difficult for larger items can be more difficult to transport up and down the staircase.
The U-shaped staircase is another variation of the standard straight staircase, however, this staircase utilises a larger landing section than the quarter turn in order to create a 180-degree turn in the staircase. If a third landing section is built into this staircase then it is no longer a U-shaped staircase but instead is a double quarter turn staircase.
Due to the U-shaped staircase design, the stairs can be placed into the corner of a room which allows the room to feel bigger compared to if you had placed the staircase somewhere in the middle. This space manipulation offers architects and designers more free rain to explore how to utilise the room. Like the quarter turn staircase, the landing section can be used as a resting area for those who tire easily and are considered to be safer in the event of a fall due to the landing section catching the person falling. The staircase is also visually pleasing with the added benefit of being customized to the client’s wishes.
The U-shaped staircase is more complicated to construct which leads to a longer construction time, also an increased price for whoever has financed the construction of the staircase.
Spiral stairs (not to be confused with curved stairs) are a helical arced staircase that the treads surround and follow a centre pole which makes them very compact and works great in small rooms or in tight corners.
The spiral staircase is designed around the central support pole in the middle of the staircase which can provide the structural support for the staircase needs to hold itself and whoever is traversing the staircase. Because of the small space required for a spiral staircase, they are very popular with city lofts and beach front decks where architects are troubled with exploiting all the space they have at their disposal. Like the quarter turn staircase, the spiral stair offers more privacy for occupants of the home and also offers a noise reduction throughout the house. Since the main structure of the staircase is one solid pole, installation is fast and simple to execute. This means that expenses won’t rise too much due to the work being done quickly.
Spiral staircases do have their disadvantages, one of which is due to their compact design they can be difficult to navigate compared to other staircases like the straight and U-shaped stairs. The design does not lend itself to be used for transporting large items up and down the staircase and is only designed for 1 occupant to traverse the staircase at a time. Spiral staircases are great if you have very limited space, however, the tighter you spiral is the smaller the treads of the staircase are, which makes the staircase harder to traverse and increases the chance of slipping and falling.
A curved staircase can add a touch of class and elegance to a home. This type of staircase is usually found at the main entrance of the home, this is because the curved staircase is designed to be the centrepiece of the room and make a lasting impact in the home in which it is in. In ways, this staircase is meant to be a symbol of wealth within the home. Curved stairs are helical with a larger radius but tend not to make a full circle.
The benefits of curved stairs are that they are easy to traverse up and down, the larger the radius of the stairs means the easier it is to traverse. The staircase is an elegant solution to getting to different elevations within your home. This type of staircase can look traditionally grand or can be adapted to look modern by using different materials within the staircase such as glass and possibly adding lights to the staircase, which would improve its functionality during the night.
Being such a grand addition to a house, the curved staircases can be very complex to design and construct. This means that the cost of materials, time and labour to construct this addition can add up. Curved steps are by far the hardest staircase to construct but offer the biggest payoff in terms of appearance. For the curved staircase to make a big impression that you desire them to make, it requires a large amount of room for the staircase to sweep down to the ground floor.
The winder staircase is another variation of the straight and the quarter turn staircases. The difference is that instead of the landing section halfway up the staircase, the winder staircase has a pie-shaped/ triangular shaped step at the corner transition.
The advantages to the winder staircase are very similar to the quarter turn staircase. However, the winder staircase does have a few advantages over the quarter turn. One of which is that the steps the replace the landing section create more of a seamless transition. Visually they are more consistent which is more appealing to people. The main advantage is that the winder staircase is more compact compared to other forms of staircases, this means that they have been used as a second staircase in older homes. Commonly found at the rear end of the house so that people can access the second floor of the home from both ends of the house.
Although this form of the staircase is based on the quarter turn staircase, because of the lack of landing found at the corner of the stairs it makes it a bit more difficult to navigate the staircase. Fixtures to the staircase like handrails are harder to measure and construct and like the quarter turn staircase, a support beam is required to provide structure to the staircase.
Often found in public buildings or at an entrance hall. These types of staircases are designed to make an impressive entrance into a room. With style of grandeur and class, these stairs are the pinnacle of a dramatic entrance.
The stairs are constructed from 3 sets of straight stairs which are formed into making one staircase. With access from either side of the room and a large landing area at the bottom of the stairs. Traversing these steps cannot be easier as they tend to have large treads giving you plenty of room to find your footing on the staircase. The staircase tends to be made from traditional materials, you won’t find them being made of stainless steel.
These stairs require a lot of space to execute properly and will be the most expensive to construct properly. The bifurcated staircase only lends itself to a traditional style and is not suited to more modern designs like the minimalist style.
Stairs are more than a tool for getting us from point A to point B. they have been used for centuries to help people access buildings and landmarks. Because of our advancements in engineering and design, we are able to construct beautifully magnificent designs to fit any home. Whether the staircase is designed with only functionality in mind, to make a statement about wealth, to make the most of the limited space you may have or to become the centrepiece of a room. If you are interested in the process of the construction of staircases you can Contact Us on our website, or call us on 01865 303 077