If you live in a multi storey or split level home, you absolutely need stairs to allow you to safely traverse between levels. This doesn’t mean that you choose just any old staircase though as with a bit of thought and careful choice, you can build a staircase that becomes the centrepiece of your home! If you’re not sure where to get started, we’ve put together an excellent guide covering what you need to know. For more information, have a chat with your local staircase specialist.
One of the first decisions that you have to make when choosing stairs is what you actually want your stairs to be made out of. The good news is that you are virtually unlimited in what materials you can choose as stairs can be made from timber, stainless steel, aluminium, concrete and even glass. You can even combine materials to create something that is truly special. For example, steel and glass staircases are the ultimate in contemporary design while steel and wood can create some beautiful, elegant looks.
Staircases are also available in a huge range of designs, so you definitely are not limited to the standard straight up and down set of stairs! Staircases can be spiral, straight or geometric. As well, you also have the option to put landings in your staircase – a landing is simply a wider, flat space that serves as a “resting point” or a place where you can change the direction of the stairs as needed. Staircases can come prefabricated (ready to put together), in standard designs, or be completely custom made to your requirements. In most homes they’ll only span between two storeys but they can be as high as you need if they are correctly engineered.
Handrails and Balustrades
Handrails and balustrades are absolutely essential parts of your staircase and many people would say that it is these that actually define the look of your staircase as a whole. For this reason, you want to make the right choice! Handrail systems can be post to post or over the post. Post to post handrails have “sections” of railing that run in between the support posts. The support posts are actually taller and can have decorative finishings. Be aware that the support posts are not the same as the balustrades. Over the post handrails run in one uninterrupted piece along the length of the staircase. The balustrades are the thin posts that run vertically along the staircase and they can be as simple or as ornate as you like. Handrails and balustrades can be made from metal, wrought iron, timber, wire, glass or again a combination of materials. They come in standard designs or can be completely custom made, just like your staircase!
Of course, something that you really want to look at when choosing your stairs is safety, as poorly designed stairs can lead to potentially serious injuries! The main thing that you have to ensure is that the actual steps – called treads – are wide enough to comfortably place your foot on. You don’t want any part of your foot hanging off them. As well, you want to make sure that the surface of the stairs isn’t too slippery. You may need to add some sort of anti slip coating if you are worried. Every staircase should also have very secure and sturdy handrails. These are vital for support when ascending or descending stairs, especially for people that have balance or mobility issues.
Something that many people don’t think of when it comes to stair safety is lighting. You really do need good lighting in your staircase so that you can actually see the stairs as you are using them! If natural daylight isn’t enough, try adding a skylight in the stairwell, or adding extra lights as necessary.