Stair Design Considerations
Since your stairs are a permanent and integral part of your home's interior, a great deal of consideration should go into its design and quality of stair parts. Your stairs frequently set the stage for the style of your home's interior by your choice of balustrade and handrails. It's easy to get distracted by trends and style, so you need to carefully balance physical safety with aesthetics to create a great staircase.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you begin designing your staircase:
- Who is going to use the stair? Take into consideration small children, mature adults and pets.
- Is the primary purpose of your stairs accessibility (allowing you to move from one level of your home to the next with ease and comfort), minor (attic), secondary (access to the basement), etc.?
- Is it going to be a focal point of your foyer?
- What is the maximum and minimum width you have to work with within your floor plan?
- How steep will it need to be?
- What will it look like? What materials will you use - wood, wrought iron, glass, composite or steel?
- How many landings will you need to make it a comfortable stair to climb and descend?
- Can you use an open or closed riser?
- What are the ideal height of the riser and the depth of the tread?
Most of these questions can be answered by consulting with your designer and builder and following your local building codes. They have strict rules as to the stair width, head height, tread width, riser height, and distance traveled before landings are required, balustrade spacing, handrail types and height.
Once you and your builder have worked out the legal structural requirements, you can then concentrate on what your staircase will look like.