How the right loft stair design can give you back an extra bedroom

Although we often manufacture staircases to the design specifications of architects, builders, project managers and individual homeowners, we also offer a full in-house design service which is backed up by the latest in 2D and 3D stair CAD software.

When designing a staircase the first thing to consider is the configuration or layout of the new flight. This ensures that the staircase will occupy the intended space without encroaching upon walkways or doorways, whilst also conforming to Parts K and M of current building regulations, which cover staircases and balustrades. It’s during this process that the stair width, pitch, clear headroom, step height and foot-space will be determined. 2D and 3D CAD drawings of the proposed flight are then generated to provide an exact plan and layout prior to manufacture. These drawings confirm to all involved parties that the new flight has been configured correctly, and that the space the flight occupies, and the areas it will serve have all been taken into consideration before production commences.

The actual stair design is based upon a number of defining factors, which include but are not limited to; The preference of the end user, the building the staircase will occupy, the existing or intended surrounding décor and materials within the building, and perhaps most importantly, cost. Once these and any other factors have been outlined, the preferred timber species can be selected along with any accompanying materials, such as glass, stainless steel / chrome, iron or powder coated metal. Although these are the most common materials used in conjunction with timber in modern staircase production, that’s not to say that other materials cannot be incorporated, as long as they do not compromise the structural integrity of the staircase itself.

Traditionally there are four different types of staircases that most people will be aware of, which are as follows:

1)   The full string: This is the most common flight. It has two equal sides that completely cover the steps with no openings between the steps or to the side.

2)   The cut-string: With this stair design the top section of the string is cut away so that the spindles or balustrade sit directly onto the steps. The cut-string was very popular in large Georgian and Edwardian period properties, and is still a very desirable design today.

3)   The open rise: Also commonly referred to as an “open tread staircase”, although if the tread was actually open there would be nothing to stand on. The open rise means that the face of the step is either partially or completely removed. However, for modern day stair construction no more than 100mm gap is allowed in any point of a staircase so either a central bar or a small “stub rise” is inserted for safety purposes. The general idea of the open rise is to allow light penetration and provide a greater feeling of space.

4)   The winding staircase: Winders or “Kite winders” as they’re commonly referred to are designed to gain height quickly whilst turning on quarter or half landings. Winders are present in many domestic properties, especially in loft conversions were space can be limited and can be easily identified as angled steps on what would normally be a flat landing. The ultimate extension of a winding staircase is a spiral. Although highly desirable as a design concept, the spiral can be extremely dangerous because of the limited foot space. As such, it’s only advisable to install a spiral staircase is you have the space to sweep the flight on a wide arc rather than turning it on one central pole, unless that’s the only option available.

If you feel that you can benefit from hundreds of years of collective experience in staircase design and production then contact us for an informal chat to find out how we can assist your project.