The staircase is a strong design element, and depending on its location in the home it can be very impressive and a real eye-catcher.
By virtue of its function, the staircase must be safe and secure. Steps and risers are designed so that stairs aren’t too steep. Children, adults and seniors should all be able to use the stairs with relative ease. Vocabulary and standards to understand before building a staircase.
Installing a staircase is very complex, and if not done properly, dangerous. It is therefore a job very few do-it-yourselfers choose to tackle. There are many different types of staircase to choose from. A talented and experienced DIY should be able to build a straight staircase, the least complicated of them all. Where the other types of staircase are concerned, such as the long or wide L-shaped staircase, the narrow or wide U-shaped staircase, or even the spiral-shaped staircase, we strongly advise you to turn to a professional who will be able to do the job effectively and quickly.
The riser is the vertical element covering the space between two steps on a staircase. Riser height should be between 5" and 7 7/8"; most are between 7" and 7 ½". These measurements are ideal for ascending and descending the stairs with ease. You may, however, be forced to modify these ideal measurements depending on where you decide to locate the staircase.
To calculate the numbers of risers and their height, divide the precise distance between the two finished floors by the standard height of a riser, 7¼". Round up the number you obtain to get the number of risers you’ll need.
Staircase height: 9' (or 108")
Riser height: 7¼"
Number of risers: 108" divided by 7¼" equals 14.9 which is rounded up to 15.
Take the staircase height, 108" and divide it by the number of steps, 15 (108 ÷ 15 = riser height, 7 3/16").
With the “run” of a staircase, we are referring to the depth of the step, or tread, minus the nosing. The tread varies between 8 ¼" and 14". The treads of most staircases vary between 9 ¾" and 10 ½".
The tread can be calculated by dividing the total length of the staircase by the number of steps. Another method consists of calculating the space between two risers.
The headroom of a staircase, which is defined as the minimum vertical space between a step and the ceiling directly above, must be at least 6'6". This ensures that most people can move freely, without the risk of bumping their heads against the ceiling.
Stringers are the two structural elements (usually wood) that support the treads, risers and handrail. They are cut to precise measurements to accommodate the treads and risers.
So that the soundness of the staircase structure is not compromised, stringers should be at least 1" thick when they rest on a surface over their entire length, and at least 1½" when they are supported at the top and bottom of the staircase. Stringers should also be at least 9¼"H, and if the staircase is more than 35"W, a third stringer should be installed in the middle of the treads to strengthen the staircase.
sième limon placé au centre pour solidifier l'escalier.
The handrail is the element that runs parallel to the staircase; it’s used by people to maintain their balance ascending and descending the staircase and is commonly referred to as the “banister.” It should be a minimum of 36" above the nosing of the tread. The space between the wall and handrail should be no more than 1 5/8".
A single handrail is mandatory for any staircase with three or more risers, where riser width does not exceed 43". If the staircase is wider, handrails must be installed on both sides.
For a staircase between two walls, the handrail must be installed on wall brackets. If the staircase is open on one or both sides, the handrail becomes the upper part of the actual railing.
The railing extends the length of the open sides of a stairway in order to prevent accidental falls. The railing must be at least 35" around openings and above the steps of the staircase. The spacing between balusters (or stair sticks) must not exceed 4".
If you’re going to have a staircase that meets your needs, you need to choose the right building materials. There are advantages and drawbacks associated with each material, which you should understand before making your choice. Keep in mind the location of the staircase and your budget.
In short, you need to think durability and safety, but you also have to consider the aesthetic qualities of the staircase you’re going to install. It is essential you are clear about what you are looking for before you make any decisions.
The materials you will be considering are wood, natural stone, metal, glass, concrete, steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Here are a number of features associated with each material.
Light and easy to work with, wood is extremely versatile when it comes to shape and decorative patterns. It is warm and inviting and costs less than the other materials. There is a large range of wood species available, including oak, one of the most popular. The oak tree produces very dense wood that hardens with age. Among the lighter-toned woods, you can find beech, ash and maple. Certain exotic species of wood have seen their popularity rise significantly. Wood combines well with all decor styles and it can be painted or varnished. Creaking stairs are inevitable with a wood staircase, however.
Most natural stone is an appropriate building material for staircases, whereas white stone, blue stone and marble are more suitable for interior staircases. With its classic, natural appearance, the stone staircase is extremely solid, strong, and easy to maintain if treated with a protective sealer prior to installation. Creating and installing a natural stone staircase is very labour-intensive, requiring a great deal of time and energy.
Metal, long considered the bottom rung of staircase construction materials, will soon move up the ladder, ahead of wood. Because it is light-weight, solid, aesthetically-pleasing, versatile and available in a multitude of shapes, metal is used these days to build very modern staircases, often in conjunction with other materials such as wood and glass.
Glass brings to stairways a look of natural transparency and light, as well as a very elegant and refined style. Manufacturing techniques have evolved, making it possible for glass to be used as a self-supporting structure. If glass is only being used for ornamental elements such as the handrail and railing, the designs become more elaborate. Smudges and marks show very quickly on transparent materials, which makes glass very high-maintenance. Extravagant glass is the most expensive of all building materials.
In the past, concrete was seen as a cold material and not a popular choice. Modern architecture has adopted concrete because of its durability and easy maintenance. It’s not expensive, it’s adaptable to all types of interior decor, and it can be treated and stained to imitate certain kinds of stone. Installation is time-intensive due to the framing required for the steps and the drying time.
Steel is a prized material in staircase construction because it can be adapted to both traditional and contemporary styles. It also harmonizes well with wood and costs less than stainless steel. Steel is easily maintained and is available in a wide variety of colours. A rust-proofing treatment is essential. If the steps are not made of wood or glass, the staircase will resonate far too much.
The stainless steel staircase is light-weight, stable, and sturdy. It is easily installed since it can be screwed or soldered. The style is modern and sophisticated, and the ambiance industrial chic. Stainless steel requires frequent maintenance. Use a microfiber sponge to clean.
Aluminum is light-weight and very malleable, which allows for more creativity and originality. Aluminum is associated with an industrial style; it’s easy to maintain and extremely durable. The structure of aluminum is much finer than that of wood. An aluminium staircase has the option of being detachable, which is ideal for access stairs to the attic. However, it is not always practical and safe enough to be used as the main staircase.
Choosing the flooring material for a staircase requires careful consideration. The qualities you should look for are durability and easy maintenance. Examine your options, and make an informed decision. Here are a number of advantages and drawbacks associated with the various flooring options:
Oak, renowned for its hardness and durability, is a popular choice for high-traffic areas
Varnishes tend to discolour or yellow over time. Steps need to be sanded and revarnished after a number of years.
|Laminate (floating) flooring|| |
Economical, it is less expensive than hardwood or ceramic tiles
Can wear down fairly quickly in high-traffic areas
Excellent sound-absorbing material
Collects dust particles, which makes it problematic for allergy-sufferers
|Ceramic tile|| |
Hard and cold under the feet
Cannot be installed over an existing staircase
May change colour slightly
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