Staircase Design Guide for Safety and Style (2024)

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There are a variety of different staircase design configurations that can be used in architectural projects to suit different needs. Stairs are structural elements that allow the connection between different floors of a building. Staircase design can drastically dictate the outcome of space allocations and can sometimes be overlooked during the planning stages.

Stairsteps are an important form of structural support for staircases design. They provide the necessary balance and stability for someone walking on a staircase. They are horizontal supports that run vertically, enabling people to climb or descend a staircase and go from one level of a structure to the next.

A staircase can be composed of several stair flights which are separated by landings. A flight is a run of consecutive stair steps. A flight is usually one less than the number of steps in a staircase, so that there may be 13, 14, or 15 steps in all from bottom to top before it terminates to a landing.

A landing is a horizontal feature that enables the connection of two or more elevation planes. It acts as a resting space and provides access to several zones of the stairs. There are floor landings that offer access to different floor areas, as well as intermediate landings that link the various floor sections.

A staircase design can be split into two parts: the vertical part is called riser and the horizontal section is called run. The distance between each step on a stair is called tread.

Types Of Staircase Design To Consider

Stairs are a fascinating construction that can be classified by shape, material, and even height. Concrete stairs are the most cost-effective option and have a low maintenance cost. Steel stairs provide a sleek and modern look but have a high maintenance cost. Wooden stairs have an organic feel to them and can blend in with any type of home décor.

Straight Stairs

Straight stairs are the most common type of staircase. They are referred to as straight because they have no changes in direction. A straight staircase has one flight of stairs that is continuous, without any curves. This type of stair is the best for hallways or small spaces.

A landing is a platform on a larger flight of stairs that interrupts the vertical build-up on the way up. This type of platform is required every 15 steps in most building codes for safety reasons. In commercial buildings, straight stairs often have platforms at regular intervals to prevent people from climbing up without taking a break.

L-shaped Stairs

An L-shaped staircase is a variation of the straight stairs with a bend, and they’re most commonly bent at a 90-degree angle. The L-shaped staircase design extends to the top and bottom of the stairs or quarter-turn staircases that reduce the risk of people tripping on the landing in order to provide more space in smaller areas.

Straight stairs are more common in homes, but the L-shaped staircase design is becoming popular because it provides a safer landing. This is because there’s less chance of slipping and falling on this type of staircase as there are fewer treads to fall on per flight.

U-Shaped Stairs

A U-shaped stairway is a design that uses two flights of stairs to make a 180-degree turn. This design allows the walk line to continue straight all the way through the turn, instead of turning back on itself.

The U-shaped stair design is an innovative way to create a more efficient walking path through the home. The straight path allows for uninterrupted movement, while the turn provides an opportunity for people to take in their surroundings.

Winder Stairs

Winder staircases are similar to L-shaped stairs but instead of a flat landing, there is a pie-shaped or triangular step at the corner. The additional steps at the landing make them a more convenient option for stair locations with limited space for long flights to reach the next level. This type of staircase also allows you to use space in a more efficient manner and can be easily located at a corner.

Spiral Stairs

Spiral stairs are a great design for small spaces because they are more compact than traditional stairs. They are usually designed with a helical arc and the treads radiate around a central pole. These stairs give off an aesthetic appeal and can be a very attractive feature in a given space.

Spiral stairs are a lot more difficult to use because they don’t follow a straight path. It’s for this reason that building codes don’t allow them as the primary way of reaching the second floor of a home. As the radius gets larger, the walkability improves. If you have the luxury of space, we recommend going 1.50 to 2.00 meters in radius for increased walkability.

Curved Staircase Design

Like spiral stairs, curved stairs follow a helical arc. However, they tend to have a much larger radius and typically do not make a full circle. They can be relatively easy to walk up as long as the radius is large enough. Curved stairs add elegance and drama to the space of any home or business. For this reason, they are almost always located at the entry where they make the best first impression.

The curved staircase design is a favorite among architects because of its elegant look. They are also very traditional. This type of design can be adapted to contemporary architecture by adding modern features to the design. For example, glass handrails or carpeting on the steps would be a good way to keep it more modern without sacrificing its traditional beauty.

Cantilever Stairs

Cantilever stairs are made with stairs that are floating in the air, not supported. The railing is usually attached to one end of the treads but can be covered up or left exposed for a more interesting look. Cantilever stairs are an extremely popular type of stair. They provide more visual interest than many other types of stairs and are therefore more unique.

Cantilever stairs stand on their own, but require proper support to avoid collapsing. The design of the structure needs to be taken into consideration to support the cantilever stairs. Tread supports need to be designed to handle the weight and potential torque.

Split Staircase

Split stairs are also known to be bifurcated stairs. They have a broad set of stairs that begins at the ground and ends at a landing at the top. The landing splits the stairs into two shorter sets of stairs, each leading in a different direction.

Split stairs are one of the most cost-effective ways to create an additional level in a home. These stairs lead up to two different sections of the same building, so each end has its own entrance or stairway. This way, when architects want to add another story, they can do so with minimal investment in new construction materials.

Ladders Are Also A Form Of Staircase Design

Staircases can also be classified by their slope. While standard staircases usually have a slope between 20° and 45°, ladder stairs are nearly vertical with steps that can be used for handholds if needed. Ladders are more challenging to maneuver than steps, particularly on the way down. They’re ideal for working conditions or emergency use.

As with stairs, ladders may be used as a method of access. However, building standards prohibit ladders from being used as the principal mode of access. Ladders created specifically for libraries, lofts, and docks have a variety of uses.

Offset In Staircase Design

The offset is defined as the distance between the last riser of the first flight and the first riser of the second flight.

The offset is a construction consideration that provides a number of aesthetic and practical benefits to ensure the handrail’s consistent continuity. From an aesthetic standpoint, the offset ensures alignment between the termination of the flight and the termination of the landing.

The continuity of the handrail throughout a building’s staircase is critical not only for user safety but also because it allows for the installation of a stairlift in the event of handicapped individuals.

Considerations When Designing A Staircase

When designing a staircase, one should consider the amount of space available, the number of steps necessary, and should take into account any other features the staircase requires:

  • Stairways must be designed so that the steps are identical on each flight.
  • All stairways with more than 15 stairs must include a landing.
  • The landing width must not be less than the width of the flight of stairs.
  • If feasible, straight stair flights should always be encouraged.
  • Stairs need to be able to hold 400 kg per square meter.
  • There should be enough lighting on the stairs.

Width of the Flights in the Design of Stairs

The staircase and hallway widths must be proportional to the number who will use them. When determining the dimensions of the steps, it is important to consider how many people can simultaneously climb or descend. It is also important to consider the type of usage.

The flow of people going up or down a building should be computed based on the assumption that all those who live, work, or engage in activities within the building have a clear exit route to allow them to leave without using elevators.

The maximum width and height of the staircases should be proportional to their capacity and are governed by the national building code. Indoor stairs must ideally have a minimum of 80 cm clear width. Spiral staircases must have a minimum of 110 cm in diameter. The pitch angle must be between 30 degrees to 60 degrees.

Guidelines for Barriers and Railings

Gaps more than 10 cm must be avoided between the vertical and horizontal sections of the balusters and handrail. The railing must be 90 cm above the treads.

To avoid accidents to youngsters, you might want to close off staircases and balconies. Customized wooden or iron safety gates could be the solution. These gates may be opened manually, electronically, or by a key lock.

Risers, Treads, and the Steepness in Staircase Design

Before designing treads or risers in any staircase, it is important to consider the level difference. The height difference between each step and riser should be consistent. The riser heights shouldn’t exceed 200 millimeters and the tread depth should not be lower than 250 millimeters. If there is a deviation in the height or width of treads within a flight, it should not exceed five millimeters.

The Basics of Properly Designed Stairs

A staircase is one of the most important parts of vertical living space. It connects the lower level to the upper level, it also connects different parts of the house like lofts, mezzanines, and roof decks with each other. Staircase design that is the correct size and shape will provide safe and comfortable experiences for all ages, abilities, and use cases.


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Staircase Design Guide for Safety and Style (2024)
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