Stairs are an inevitable practical feature in any home that has more than one floor, with one set usually taking you up one floor at a time. Though the stair's design is primarily created for practicality, there is no reason why it cannot become a design feature in its own right. The staircase is often the first thing that is seen when entering into a home, therefore if you want to create a striking impression with your house you will need to install the kind of stairs that complement the style present throughout the rest of your home.
There may be more than one staircase in your home, although the main staircase from the ground floor to the upper floors is the one that receives the most attention in construction and design. Stairs down to cellars for example, are usually cheaper and wholly functional. However, stair installation for a loft conversion often requires a great deal of planning regarding the amount of space available, while stairs up to garden decking may only be two risers high.
Wherever the staircase will be installed in your home or garden, it can help create a rhythm and pattern to the space. It can draw the eye and invite you to look up or walk up it, providing an architectural grace to a usually functional feature. You can express your tastes and personality throughout your home and there is no need to leave the stairs out. Create a strong presentation for visitors to your home with a new set staircase installation, or with a bespoke design unique to you and your property.
There are a variety of stair shapes and levels of steepness that can be installed, each offering a different appeal to invite you to climb them. It is generally the case that the wider the stairs and the more gentle the incline, the more inviting the staircase. Obviously however, wide staircases require plenty of floor space.
A new staircase is an innovative way to revamp your home. Create instant visual impact and thus a lasting impression on guests with a well made and installed staircase chosen by you, not just as part and parcel of the original house.
Straight stairs extend from the lower floor to the next in a single straight ascension. This is the easiest kind to build, although it can be difficult to fit into an existing floor plan.
Return stairs face the other direction part way up the climb, turning 180 degrees at a landing.
L stairs as the name implies, create an L shape by turning 90 degrees at a landing space.
Winder stairs are similar to an L stair, although the landing space is instead extended steps, creating a pie-like visual as the corner is turned. Although they use less space, they are also less safe than L shapes due to the changes in the steps at the turn.
Curved stairs sweep grandly upwards in one direction in a generous circular curve.
Spiral stairs spiral upwards with the staircase ascending vertically and tight curves in the spiral of the steps. There may be a straight centre pole from which the steps protrude, or the centre supports the spiral in a complementary curve. Spiral staircases are ideal for places where access is limited and where you wish to create design impact, although they may not be practical for heavy traffic and furniture moving.
More imperative than the design is the requirement for staircases to be constructed safely. As well as general guidance for the practicality and safety issues surrounding different stair constructions, there are some stipulations by Building Regulations that must be followed.
Approved Document K of the Building Regulations 1992 states that:
It is usually the case that you will need to allow around 1830mm (6ft) in diameter for a spiral staircase. In the UK, staircases commonly comprise 13 rises.
As with floorboards, stairs can begin squeaking when the pieces of timber start rubbing together. To locate the source of the squeak, remove any stair covering and step on each step, moving your foot across different parts of the tread. If the noise occurs where your foot rests on the tread; that is where you will need to fix. If it squeaks at either side when you step on the centre or at the back when you step on the front, the whole tread may be moving.
If you can access underneath the stairs:
Replace the wedges - the thin wedges that hold upright between the risers may have come loose. To remedy this, remove all the wedges from underneath the squeaking board and chisel out any remaining glue. Then spread on some new glue on both sides of the wedges and replace. Ensure that they are secure by tapping them in firmly with a mallet.
Replace the triangle blocks - the triangular blocks are located along the joint securing the risers and treads. These again may have worked loose, and you should be able to tell where by looking for light patches on the wood.
Cut some new triangle blocks with a 75mm (3in) length. Attach them to the stairs with some generous PVA glue and some panel pins or screws.
If you cannot access the stairs from underneath, it will be necessary to drill holes long the loose edge of the stair. These should be countersunk and screwed into the riser, and the screw heads covered with filler.