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How To Choose A Staircase

15 January 2015

Scandinavian Spiral Stairs

A staircase is a vital part of many homes. A good staircase serves its purpose by providing access to the upper levels of a building. It serves as a connecting path from one floor to another, usually to a bedroom or maybe a mezzanine, sun deck or garden areas. Aside from the functional purpose of a stairs, it also provides a feature to the home.

Of course, most of us don’t get to choose a new staircase very often. Staircases come in many varieties and when choosing the kind of stairs we want, we must take care and choose wisely.

Hence, if you are still planning for your own home, then let this blog help you decide on the type of staircase that will be right for your home and your family. Looking at staircases in brochures, magazines and on the British Spirals & Castings website will give you a good idea of the types of stairs that you may wish to buy.

There is no substitute for going to see the staircase yourself. Visiting a showroom will allow you to get a feel for the different types and sizes of staircases. There are many things to consider when choosing for a staircase design and this blog will highlight some of the major factors to consider.

1. Budget

One major factor that you need to look into when choosing a staircase design is the budget. This can help you select the kind of materials to be used for the stairs and the style of the stairs. For example aluminium metal staircases are more cost effective than our solid timber staircases but there are various mixtures of the two materials which fit within the different price ranges. Find the type of staircase you like and get some quotes, then you will soon find out whether the budget you have allocated to the stairs is sufficient for the type of stairs you have in mind.

2. Space

Look closely at the space you have available, this can help you think of a design that will not take up a lot of space. You can also opt for a larger and more decorative staircase if the area you have to work with is larger. A straight staircase for example will occupy more space in the room below but will require a thin but long rectangular opening in the ceiling above.

A spiral staircase takes up less space in the downstairs area but requires a square or circular opening in the ceiling above, this sometimes takes up more space in the area above. A spiral fits best when the staircase can be pushed into the corner of a room or where you can fit it in a larger space allowing you to really make a feature of the staircase.

If you cannot create an opening for the staircase that is suitable, but still desire the spiral option, you may wish to consider a combination staircase with a mixture of straight and spiral treads.

3. Consider safety

It is vital to consider the safety of your stairs. The current building regulations are designed to help, stating minimum width requirements for certain applications. Regulations also ensure that there are no gaps on the staircase more than 100mm so that children cannot climb through the balusters. A spiral staircase is as safe as any standard staircase and should not be considered dangerous in any way.

4. Consider the Occupants

If you are a builder or property developer, consider the occupants of your property.  It is them who have to make use of the staircase.  For example,  if there are seniors and children in the family, it would be advisable to use stairs with landing plates and handrails.

5. Materials

There are many kind of materials that can be used for making stairs. It could be timber, marble, steel and even concrete. British Spirals & Castings use aluminium and solid timbers to make their spirals. Mixing the two materials is also no problem, this technique results in the Scandinavian range which can be made with a metal or timber handrail.

6. Staircase Designs

Aside from the materials, you can also choose from different staircase designs. It could be straight stairs, a half turned staircase, quarter turned staircase (combination staircase) or of course a spiral staircase. Also remember that spiral staircases are good to save space and reduce the amount of space taken up especially on the lower ground floor. A spiral staircase can also really open up a room, as well as provide a stunning piece of furniture.

7. Building Regulations

There is a standard code of practice within the U.K building regulations relating to staircases which will apply to all new builds. In cases where the building is listed or where space is limited and a new staircase will be a significant improvement on the one you already have, the building regulations have built in discretion (Document K) for the building regulations to be relaxed. This utilisation of the discretionary order under Document K, varies from local council to council and from building inspector to building inspector.  It is always advisable to contact your local building inspector to discuss with them your requirements before committing to a purchase and finalising details. British Spirals & Castings will be able to help and guide you through the process.  We will be able to advise whether your desired staircase designs will comply with building regulations.

8. Be certain with your decision

When it comes to choosing a staircase design, you have to make sure that you have finalised your decision,  and you have considered every single detail. You must be clear before you proceed, because it is not simple to replace a staircase. It would be hard to do and late changes to the plan could see costs spiral. Plan everything well so that you can get the right stairs for you and your family.

Staircase checklist:

How much metal is in the Tread?

If you are opting for a metal or cast staircase make sure you see different pictures or even better visit a showroom to see how much metal is in the treads. Some staircases will be cheaper than others because they have much more airspace which may make them less sturdy.

What material is the staircase made of?
Be sure you know, and do your comparisons, and costings.

Are you comparing like for like?
I.e. : Same type and number of treads and balusters, landing plate, landing balustrade.

How heavy will the staircase be?
Will special allowances need to be made to accommodate the weight?

Is it a bespoke product and made to measure?

How much fabrication work is there to do on site?

Can I go and see the staircase?

Where are  the component parts manufactured?
British Spirals & Castings own our foundry, so this means we can have total control the quality of castings.  Most of our competitors import casting from the Far East with little control over quality or flexibility.

We do hope that you will be able to get the right staircase design for your home and if we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

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