Stairs are nearly as old as architecture itself and ubiquitous in modern homes. There are various different types of staircases, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. When constructing or remodelling a house requiring a staircase, it is important to consider which type of staircase will be best suited to the structure, as well as to the taste of the owner.
When it comes to choosing a staircase design for a home, we need to look at the form of the space where the staircase will be, how often it will be used, and its designation (main or supporting staircase). There are many different styles, adornments and materials which can be used to personalise this feature, but in this ideabook we will look exclusively at the different types of staircases and which are best suited for different spaces.
Now, let's take a look at what kinds of staircases we can choose from…
The arched staircase is the pinnacle of elegance and the first image that comes to mind when thinking of royalty descending a flight of stairs. The treads are wedge-shaped, but because of the arch form, tapering of the treads are not as prominent.
Because of the arched staircase's graceful appearance, it has almost exclusively been placed in entryways and foyers. This is certainly the staircase to choose when looking for a centrepiece or grand first impression of the home. The disadvantage that comes with this type of stairs is that it is the most difficult of all to plan and construct, since all of its details (including the handrails) need to be curved.
Straight stairs are by far the most widespread and popular, and duly so—they are convenient, functional and the most cost-effective.
In this classical design, the treads are located straight across the trajectory of the staircase. The treads are evenly spaced and the staircase may or may not have a landing, as long as it all goes in the same direction.
If you're looking for the most practical solution, a straight staircase will never be the wrong choice. It is especially suited to minimalist homes and interiors due to its intrinsic simplicity. It is, however, significant to note these type of stairs take up much linear space and does not create a barrier between floors, which usually creates some privacy.
A quarter-lander is basically a straight staircase having a change of heart. The linear treads are supplemented by a landing which rotates the direction of the staircase by 90 degrees. It is also often referred to as L-shaped stairs and can have more than one landing when more than one change in orientation is required.
Quarter landing stairs are very convenient and are also safer than straight stairs, due to the landing, which provides a place of rest in moving up or down. This staircase is ideal for corners, as it easily conforms to the space of the house's design. It is a very logical use of space, and can be much more visually interesting than a straight line. The downside is that it is more difficult to construct, and more support is usually necessary, rendering it less cost-effective.
Winder stairs throw caution to the wind and eliminates the landing in rotations of either 90 or 180 degrees. The rotation is compensated for by wedge-shaped stairs around the turns.
This is a visually interesting type of staircase, as it produces gentle, fluent lines and a seamless transition from one level to the next. Characteristics like these make it popular in modern homes, and it can be easily installed in a variety of spaces.
The winder staircase requires less space, but is complex in design and demands very accurate calculations and planning. The tapering of the wedge-shaped treads also make the turns harder to navigate and a hazard for missing a step.
Next up is the half landing staircase. What this useful device does is change the direction of the flight of stairs by 180 degrees. This is also achieved by a landing, and it usually divides the treads in half.
Half landing stairs are functional and much safer, since the large landing limits the amount of treads someone can fall down. It also has a great deal of architectural interest in any design and can easily fit into the plan of most homes.
This type of staircase is best suited to homes with tall ceilings or where the staircase runs through several levels of the house.
The spiral staircase is certainly the most interesting design. It has a helical arc, resembling the shape of a spring. All of the treads are wedge-shaped, but as opposed to the winder and arched staircases, these treads are all consistent in size. There is a central vertical post around which the treads radiate.
Spiral stairs are found mostly in city loft apartments, due to its economical use of space, ease of installation, and limitations of capacity. A spiral staircase is not really suited to frequent use, as it has a confined area which is difficult to move upon. Only one person can navigate the stairs at any one time, and it is difficult to carry large items up or down on it. This is also why many building codes do not allow the use of spiral stairs as primary ingress to a full-sized second floor.
Compact stairs are used increasingly in accordance with the rise in smaller and more sustainable home designs. Affectionately known as goose-steps, the treads of a compact staircase are distinctively shaped for only one foot at a time—occupying half of the space of another staircase type.
Although friendly to the environment and responsible design, compact stairs have many disadvantages. It is exceptionally inconvenient and not at all ergonomic. Its compactness comes at the expense of safety and easy access. Compact stairs cannot be used as a primary staircase and are most often utilised in rooms where there are not much movement.
By this time you must have an idea of which type of staircase is best suited to your home. Now you can start thinking about how to best use the space that will be created under this feature!