Architectural Tips: What are the different types of stairs?

Building a new home or renovating an old one? Want to install your dream staircase? Once you understand the 9 most common types of staircases you will be in a better position to choose.

Before planning any other part of a staircase, like the style of the steps, banister or coverings, consideration needs to be given to its shape. The choice of shape must be made after considering the style of the home, the needs of the people living in it and the available space. 

What are the 9 different types of stairs?

  1. Straight Stairs

This is the most basic type of staircase that is easy and more affordable to build. Moreover, because it has a straight line design, it doesn’t need any special support system and it’s only attached at the top and bottom.  Even though the design is basic, it doesn’t mean that the straight staircase cannot look beautiful. Modern materials can be used for the stairs and banisters, and open risers can give them a modern look. They can be given a more traditional feel with wood. 

  1. The 90-degree stairs

This is also known as the L-shaped or quarter-turn staircase. It has a landing, usually half way up, from which the staircase then continues to the left or right. The landing can also be built closer to the bottom or top. 90-degree stairs are popular because they are visually appealing, take up less space, because they can be in a corner of the room, and are considered easier to climb. They are a bit more complex to build and need support for the landing and turn, making them a bit more expensive. 

  1. The 180-degree stairs

This is also known as the half-turn, or u-shaped, and it has two flights of stairs that go in opposite directions, making them visually pleasing and take up less floor space. Typically they are used for corner designs and the landing is usually spacious allowing for the incorporation of a window or display area. Unfortunately, the 180-degree has one disadvantage, it is sometimes more difficult to carry large furniture upstairs. 

  1. Winder Stairs

These are similar to the 90- degree stairs, but a little more complex. The landing is replaced by a set of winders, or treads, that are wider on the one side and were mostly used in older homes. However, due to smaller living spaces they have once again become popular. 

  1. Spiral Stairs

These are the perfect stairs for compact spaces. Most spiral stairs have a central post to which each tread is attached as they spiral upwards and reach the top floor above, which has an opening in the floor. These stairs are not easy to navigate; they require caution where the feet are placed because they are narrow. Another drawback is that they can only be used by one person at a time and it is extremely hard to move larger items up spiral stairs.

  1. Curved Stairs

Curved stairs are different to spiral and circle stairs and are meant to be a design feature in a home. They are definitely more difficult and costly to construct but are easy to climb because of the gentle curve.

  1. Ladder Stairs 

Ladder stairs are extremely space efficient but are often not permitted to be the main stairs by building codes. They can be simple or stylish in design but because their stairs are typically taller than on other stairs, they are quite difficult to use, especially in the descent. They are particularly useful for hard to reach spaces with a home.

  1. Split Stairs

This is the grandest of all the stair designs and was originally called bifurcated stairs. It is typically used in the entrance way of spacious homes because it consists of a central wider flight of stairs at the center of the bottom storey. Part of the way up a generous landing divides the stairs in two narrower sets of stairs with each leading to the next floor, one to the right and the other to the left. Impressive and expensive, these stairs are suitable to grand homes only. 

  1. Floating Stairs

These are modern and have treads with no risers and are most often straight stairs. The treads can either be attached to the wall or with an invisible support beneath them. The materials used on floating steps are usually also very modern and include Plexiglas, wood, metal or stone. Handrails are either completely absent or are replaced by glass or steel cabling. 

Choosing a staircase style may not be easy, but with this guide it can be less complicated. Cost is a certainly an important consideration, but so is the available space. 

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