Floating stairs have no visible support structure, and if building regulations allow, they will also have no handrails. The stair treads give the illusion that they are floating in the area, hence the name floating stairs. These elegant and modern stairs are becoming extremely popular for interior use.
Areas where floating stairs can be used
Contemporary home design with open concept spaces often opt for floating stairs. This is because they remove visual obstructions and maximize the available living space. They are easy to incorporate to indoor and outdoor areas and are easy to create in remodels of homes.
Advantages and disadvantages of floating stairs
Advantages- Aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching, floating stairs add a dramatic accent to a more stark modern space. They are a good choice for smaller spaces as the whole room is visible, even with the staircase.
Disadvantages- The empty space between the risers can be a problem for people with poor visibility or poor coordination. They are especially not practical in homes with young children or elderly residents especially if there are no handrails. The chances of a foot getting caught between the steps and a serious injury are far greater than with any other steps.
Building of a floating staircase
Even though they appear “seamless” floating stairs need good engineering in their design, manufacture and on-site installation. Choosing the right contractor for the construction of floating stairs is essential if they are to be stable, otherwise the home owner may have the extra expense of having to redo them in a short time.
They have to be securely anchored in space since their supporting structure is different to other stair types. The concept behind floating step building is that they a have a single stringer for support. Depending on the design this may be placed against a wall or under the risers where it is completely out of view. Depending on the design, a single or double stringer could be used which is made from metal.
It is easier to build them next to a wall as the staircase is made self-supporting because of the concrete or brick of the wall. The staircase in this event is fixed directly to the solid wall. If the wall next to the staircase is non-load-bearing then there are alternative design alternatives where a steel structure can be used as the cantilever element.
Materials for floating stair construction
Glass is a popular material for railings and treads in a floating staircase. Other popular materials include wood, acrylic, concrete, resins, Corian and metals. Various combinations of these are used for the treads and railings. The treads of a floating staircase are double the thickness of those for normal staircases and again local regulations have to be checked. All metal bolts used for the construction of floating staircases are cleverly concealed, unless they are chosen as part of the design element.
The modern home has much to gain from the use of the floating staircase as it gives the whole living area more feel of space and light.