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Stairs are an important part of a house that has a level above the ground. The types of staircase to be designed is of prime consideration at the time of a house construction or remodeling project.
Different types of staircases provide different visual appeal and of course, take up space according to their design. When considering a new staircase, think about the structure of your house, space available for a staircase, and of course the requirements of your family members, their age factor, and how much they use the stairs. And, if you have an inclination towards a particular staircase design, who are we to stop you?
Make the best choice keeping in mind the advantages and disadvantages of those that you’re considering.
In a layman’s term, a stair is a set of steps leading from one floor of a building to another, usually inside the structure. The area in which the stair is located is known as a staircase. The space occupied by the stair is known as a stairway. Simple, isn’t it?
Before beginning a home remodeling or designing a new house’s layout, it’s important to address a few questions.
What is the standard size of stairs?
In the United States, the general rule that’s followed is the rule of 7-11 — that is to say, a 7-inch rise will be accompanied with an 11-inch run. To be more exact, the vertical riser should not be more than 7 3/4 inches and the tread, or the horizontal width, should be a minimum of 10 inches.
How do you calculate the area of a staircase?
When calculating the area of a staircase, there are a few mathematical steps to be followed:
- Measure the height of the space where a staircase is required.
- Subtract 6–7 feet, i.e. 1.8–2.1 m, from it to accommodate headroom.
- Divide this height by 6 or 7 inches, i.e. 15 or 18 cm. This will be your total number of stairs.
- Divide the rise by this number to find the individual stair height.
When is a central landing required?
If the number of steps is more than 16 or the total vertical height of the staircase is more than 12 feet, only then is a landing required.
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What angle should a staircase be?
The angle of a staircase depends on the amount of space available, but is commonly determined by the rise and run of a stair. A 7-inch rise with a minimum of 11-inch tread will make an ideal angle of arctan of 32 degrees.
How steep can a staircase be?
A staircase should be at least 60mm wide with a rise of 220mm. The step length can be anything around or less than 145mm. The steepness of a domestic staircase should be more than 42 degrees. This measurement is for a secondary staircase only.
So, now that we’ve got the technicalities worked out, let’s get down to the different types of staircases based on the way these are designed:
What are the different types of staircase?
There are more than 20 types of staircase, each named by the way it’s designed. In this article, we’ll talk about 12 of the most popular and different types of staircases.
Arched staircase, straight stairs, straight stairs with central landing, L-shaped stairs, U-shaped stairs, winder stairs, spiral stairs, curved stairs, split stairs, floating stairs, storage stairs, and finally a ladder.
The first image of a staircase that comes into mind when you think of one, is the quintessential grand or the arched staircase. We can almost picture the beautiful Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind coming down the steps! A pinnacle of elegance, both her and the staircase.
In this design, the treads are wedge-shaped and curve effortlessly like an arch. Perfect if you have a big house and are looking for a centerpiece. It makes a heck of a first impression for your house. The drawback of this type of stairs is that it is the most difficult of all designs to construct. All the details, even the handrails, need to be curved. But the end result is worth the effort, we think.
Straight stairs are the most common types of stairs found in both residential and commercial buildings. They are the easiest to go up and down, simple to build, and take up less space than most of the other designs.
The reason, they are easy to build is that they only need to be connected from the top to the bottom, with no intermediate supporting structure in between. If you have a minimalist designed home, this simple staircase structure is the best. There are always options to choose from: thinner treads and metal stringers, transparent railing, etc.
Straight Stairs With Central Landing
As the name suggests, this design is a variation of the straight stair. If your total vertical height is more than 12 feet and the total number of steps exceeds 16, you need a central landing area. Think of this space as a resting area. The only drawback of this structure is that it needs an increased amount of space than a straight one. No wonder, this type of staircase is used more in commercial buildings than private houses.
L-shaped Stairs aka Quarter-Turn Stairs
The L-shaped stair is again a variation of the straight stair with a bend. A landing is added at the bend transition point in such a way that it usually makes an angle of 90 degrees.
These stairs are more visually appealing and might we add safer. Reason? The central landing breaks a fall and also provides a resting area while using the stairs. As far as the design goes, these can be easily structured at the corner of a room.
Photo David G. De Vries [Public domain] from Wikimedia Commons
These usually have two flights of stairs going in opposite directions — with a landing at the switchback. More interesting than a straight staircase, they take up less linear floor space. Make the landing size according to your convenience. We suggest allotting it a generous size. Otherwise, it can be difficult to move larger pieces of furniture upstairs.
Winder stairs are a variation of an L-shaped stair. Interestingly, instead of a flat landing, these have triangular steps at the corner transition. The steps seem to be quite seamless and more compact as they meander around corners. The are best suited for modern homes. Attractive as well as well-contained, these require less space than many other types of stairs.
Spiral stairs, not to be confused with curved stairs, make a helical arc, with the treads radiating around a center pole. This is quite a compact design — best suited for smaller spaces. They are very popular on beach front decks or city lofts where space comes at a premium.
Not much extra structural support is needed apart from the pole and the railing. So, they are easy to install. Choose the central pole and matching railings for a design that appeals to your senses.
Curved stairs add elegance to home or business. For this reason they are almost always located at the entry where they make the best first impression. Curved stairs, like spiral stairs, are helical but are on a much, much bigger scale. They go well with both traditional as well as modern home designs. And, are easy to ascend or descend due to the large radius.
Split Staircase aka Bifurcated Stairs
Typically installed in the main foyer of a spacious home, the grand staircase has a wider flight at the bottom. A generous landing leads to two narrower flights on either side of the bottom section — going in opposite directions — often leading to rooms. Large, expansive and expensive, this design makes a big impression.
This variation of straight stairs has treads but no risers. The mechanism is simple — the treads are attached to the wall in a way that the support is almost invisible. Sometimes, glass or plexiglass risers may be used to achieve this floating-in-the-air look.
This is as contemporary a design as can be. Although handrails are not essential, we suggest a glass one for safety purposes. Any floating style must also meet local building codes. Wood, metal, or stone — these stairs can be designed using any heavy-duty material.
When it comes to storage, any sized house can use an extra amount. The best area for storage often comes from the much-overlooked space underneath the stairs. Stash away all your necessities by building cabinets underneath the risers instead of simply walling off the area. Remember Harry Potter’s room?
If you love doing things differently, you can also turn each riser into a drawer. Yes, you read right. Just make sure that this kind of staircase meets all safety requirements and is installed by a qualified professional.
As space becomes more of an issue, especially in big cities, library ladders are becoming increasingly popular. They take up much less area, are easy to install, and have a sustainable design. There’s also the cool quotient that resonates with young people.
In this article, we’ve talked about the different types of staircases. If you’re thinking of a house remodeling or are designing a new home, take note of these kinds and choose the staircase that matches the structure of your space, the area available, your lifestyle, and of course is visually interesting.
Read more: Smart Home Library Design Ideas for You
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