Are you constructing or renovating your home? Then chances are that you may be needing stairs. There are different types of stairs that you can choose from. From straight to spiral staircases and everything in between, most will have their benefits and disadvantages. You however can’t go wrong with a straight staircase which is the most common type.
Before we take a look at the various types of stairs and their advantages, let’s look at what a staircase is and give you a guide that you can use when shopping for your next build or renovation project.
What is a staircase?
A staircase is the complete structure of stairs including the surrounding walls, pillars and rails leading to and from an entrance. Stairs are decorative pieces of architecture and they come in so many different variations, shapes, sizes and designs that it’s easy to get confused about what type to get.
In short, staircases are built with stairs on either end and they all have 5 main things in common:
- A land rise of at least 10 inches.
- Landfall of at least six inches.
- Stairs on either end of an entrance.
- Support of the staircase as a whole. This can be either by columns or beams, or both, depending on what style the stairs are made out of.
- All staircases use risers and treads to walk up and down the platform that supports the steps.
Okay, let’s get into the different types of stairs.
Types of Stairs
There are many types of stairs. Let’s take a look at some of them including their advantages.
1. Straight Stairs
Straight stairs as the name implies are usually straight and have no change in direction. They are one of the most common types of staircases you can find for both residential and commercial use.
Straight stairs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They can be made out of metal, wood, marble – you name it. But they all follow the same principles.
Straight steps will usually have protective parallel bars or platforms running along both sides of the step. These bars are usually made of iron but could also be made of concrete or other materials depending on the desired style.
Advantages of straight stairs
- Straight stairs are ideal for minimalist home designs due to their simplicity.
- They are the easiest type of stairs to use. You just go up and down without any bends or curves.
- Straight stairs only require a connection to the actual floors at the top and at the bottom. This can make it easier for blind people to use.
- It is quite easy to build as it requires even measurement and straightforward design.
2. Spiral Stairs
Spiral stairs follow the same basic principles as straight stairs. The main difference with spiral stairs is that instead of a long straight staircase, the staircase is more rounded as they go up giving it a corkscrew shape. . With spiral stairs, a cylindrical structure is used to support everything unlike with straight stairs where the flat platform is used to support risers and treads.
This structure is usually made out of either metal or wood and it runs along the entire length of your staircase so that it can support all of your steps and risers.
Here are some of the advantages of spiral stairs:
- Spiral stairs are compact and very effective for space management.
- They are very attractive and stylish and can give your home that classy look.
- They do not require so many materials provided their centre pole is strong enough to provide support for the stairs.
3. Curved Stairs
Curved stairs tend to follow a helical arc pattern but never make it into a full circle because of their larger radius, unlike spiral stairs. To create curved stairs, simply follow the same basic steps as straight stairs.
You’ll need to build risers and treads along with your stairway and you’ll need to put in the support columns at the very top of your steps. Then you can go ahead and curve it however you want!
A good way to describe curved steps is to imagine them as a combination of straight and spiral steps. This kind of step is so elegant, they are mostly placed to face entrances; just like an architectural design that must be shown off.
Advantages of curved stairs
- They are quite easy to walk on especially because of their large radius.
- They are so elegant that you can use them as a design.
- Due to the design of the step, there is usually enough space to enable large items to be carried up and down freely.
4. L-Shaped Stairs
L-shaped stairs are more or less straight stairs with a 90 degrees angle. They usually start up as straight stairs but change direction in the middle giving it the name ‘L shaped’.
To achieve the bend, a landing is placed at the transition point. In most cases, the two parts of the stairs have an equal length however, in some cases, one part is longer than the other part.
Advantages of L-shaped stairs
- They are quite safe when compared to other staircases. In the event of a fall, L-shaped stairs have a small number of treads that one can fall due to the break at the transition point.
- The landing can be a resting point for people who are not able to go up the stairs in one straight flight. E.g, convalescents.
- They can create a bit of privacy due to the visual barrier that exists between floors.
5. U Shaped Stairs
This type of stairs is one of the most common that you’ll find in commercial buildings like schools and office complexes. They are basically two straight stairs that run parallel to each other and are joined by a landing.
U-shaped stairs are usually used in taller buildings and are sometimes situated in a stairway area that has doors leading to each floor. They are a bit similar to L-shaped stairs. the only difference is that while L-shaped stairs provide a 90-degree turn, U-shaped stairs provide a 180-degree turn at their transition point.
Advantages of U-shaped stairs
- Due to the nature of the stairs, they are usually assigned a specific area in a building. This makes it very easy to fit into an architectural plan or design.
- Like with L-shaped stairs, the landing provides a resting point for people while using the stairs. Considering that buildings with U-shaped stairs are mostly high, having those stops can be a relief for many.
- They also provide safety due to the shortness of the length of stairs in the event of a fall.
6. Cantilever stairs
This is an interesting type of stairs. They are basically straight stairs with a unique design that makes them look like they are floating in the air. The pillar holding the stairs is usually hidden in the wall or in a corner. this is what gives it that floating look.
Cantilever stairs can make your home look spacious when used especially when they are built with no railings. Having no railings can be unsafe especially when there are children in the house so choose this design with care. Let’s have a look at some of their perks.
Advantages of cantilever stairs
- Cantilever steps look quite simple and very stylish making them ideal for a minimalist house design.
- They make a room appear more spacious and aesthetically appealing.
- They are very unique. Perhaps the most unique of all stair types.
7. Split stairs
This type of staircase has straight wideset stairs that parts into two stairs at a transition leading to two smaller stairs mostly in opposite directions.
Split stairs are mostly used in halls and buildings with high ceilings and can give the building an exquisite look. They can also give a grand entry during events.
Advantages of split stairs
- With split stairs, one staircase can function as two.
- They can add beauty to a building.
- They are ideal for events.
Now that you know some of the different types of stairs that you can choose from when building your home and their advantages, ensure that you invite a professional to help you decide which one of them is the best for your home.
It is important to consider more factors than just the advantages. Factors such as the style of the house, the furniture that will be used in the house, the inhabitants (having children will require a simpler staircase style), etc can help you pick the perfect staircase for your home.
You can also read Best Ladder for Your Stairwell to help you make the best decisions on which ladder to use on your staircase after you have built one.