Choosing The Right Staircase
When it comes to starting a new self build project, a lot of people find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of new information they need to absorb. From what materials are suitable for doors and windows, to what sort of insulation is required in the walls and roof. Alongside this comes a vast array of Building regulations to try to get to grips with – a daunting task for anyone!
One of the most overlooked aspects of a new build is the addition of a staircase; most people do not have experience of purchasing one at all, and so understanding the terms involved can be confusing at first. However, stairs are really a lot simpler than they can at first appear.The first question that is likely to be posed by people looking for a staircase is “what information do I need to begin looking for my stair?” Ideally, an idea of what sort of style or look you want the staircase to achieve is useful to have in mind. Try to tie in the rest of the property with the staircase; it tends to be the major feature of whatever room it is located in. If the property has a lot of timber surfaces, or maybe Oak flooring, then a timber staircase, without carpeting or any other materials involved in it, could give an attractive traditional look. For a more contemporary house, a staircase with a centre spine support design constructed from modern materials such as stainless steel and glass might be a better option. Try to have a few options in mind; this can widen your chances of finding exactly what you are looking for.If someone is looking to acquire a new stair, they are probably also going to wonder what dimensions are important. In most cases, the critical measurement to have to hand is the floor-to-floor height (as opposed to floor-to-ceiling). This needs to go from the surface the staircase is beginning on, to the surface it will exit onto. It also needs to include all finishes (e.g. screed, oak flooring etc, carpet etc.) to enable the staircase to line up correctly. The other important dimensions to know in advance are the length and width of the opening or “stairwell” that the staircase will be going into in the floor above. An average stairwell might be 2800mm long by 900mm wide. For spirals, the overall diameter of a round opening is required instead (if it is not going into a square/rectangular opening).The configuration of your staircase refers to the rough shape of the stair. Most domestic staircases tend to be one of 3 configurations: a straight flight staircase, which is obviously just a straight stair; a quarter turn staircase, which looks like an L shape, with a small turn typically at either the top or the bottom; and lastly a half turn staircase, which looks like a U shape. Whilst it is perfectly possible to have even more configurations (such as a three-quarter turn or a Z shape stair) these are the usual configurations. Again, knowing these in advance can aid greatly in smoothing the process of choosing a stair.Some terms which may be used in conversation regarding a staircase, which are useful to know, are: Tread, Rise, Going, Balustrade, Spindles, Stringer and Winders. * The “Tread” refers to the steps of a staircase (the part that is walked upon). * The “Rise” is the vertical distance between the top of a tread, and the underside of the tread above. The gap between the treads is then known as the “riser gap”. * The “Going” is the horizontal distance from the front edge of one tread to the front edge of the tread above/below. There can also be an overall going, which is the sum of all the tread goings added together. * The “Balustrade” refers to the Handrail, Newel Posts and Spindles of a staircase. Newel Posts tend to be at the beginning and end of a staircase, with a few additional posts in between if the staircase has turns to it, in order to support the handrail. * The “Spindles” are the, typically vertical, smaller posts that run from the handrail to the treads. They can also be horizontal. * The “Stringer” of a staircase is the large, solid section that runs along the sides of each tread, connecting them all together. It typically supports the staircase on both sides; however some cantilevered stairs only have one, or even no stringers. * Lastly “Winders” are treads which form the turn of staircase; they are angled treads, typically forming 20-30 degrees of a turn.Of course, there are many more technical ideas which come into play if a very bespoke staircase is being designed; however with knowledge of the above dimensions and a few of the terms, a staircase can be reduced from a daunting obstacle to a few simple design choices.
Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. For information on deciding on the right staircase for your home, he recommends the
, Complete Stair Systems.
Choosing The Right Staircase}