Here’s a quick guide on what to consider before you get started on building a staircase
Ever wonder why Pinterest has so many staircase designs? It’s because stairs are an essential element in any space.
Designers often make staircases focal points, using bold and captivating architecture and materials. With just a touch of glass or metal, stairs can transform simple spaces, adding personality and warmth to a room.
To help you on your journey to building your dream staircase, we’ve created the Steel Studio Guide to Staircase Design. Here are some factors to consider before construction.
1. Know Your Shapes
Staircase shapes are a great place to begin the design process. The shape of your staircase includes aesthetics and functionality. Think about how much room you have, what shape will best suit the space, and what shape best complements the style you’re considering.
Some common staircase shapes include:
- Straight: This is ideal for spaces with limited area and is usually a simple, straightforward design.
- L-Shaped: This is great for a change of direction and is suitable for larger areas. An L-shaped design creates a nice visual break in a room.
- U-Shaped: This is a popular home design choice because it provides a 180-degree turn. U-shaped staircases are suitable for larger floor areas.
- Spiral: This compact design works well for tight spaces and is visually appealing. It’s a modern design that is often a centrepiece.
Our team of professionals can help assess what shape is best for your project, but don’t be afraid to research this more online.
2. Size (and Space) Matters
The last thing you want is an awkward flight of stairs in the middle of a room. That’s why size and space are important considerations when building a staircase.
A Steel Studio consultant can advise you on best practices for the area you’re working with, so you can create a design with correct measurements. Knowing how much space you have to play with also gives you a good idea of what will be the most functional.
Sizing is crucial to having well-proportioned stairs. In construction, staircases must follow building code requirements and be SANS-compliant to ensure safety.
Consider this when it comes to size:
- Rise: this is the vertical height between each step and is necessary for safety.
- Run: this is the horizontal depth of each step and is necessary to provide stability.
- Headroom: this is the amount of space above a staircase. You want to leave enough room for a comfortable clearance.
3. Styles and Trends
Now for the fun part: selecting a style. Like other aspects of interior design, there’s a massive catalogue of trends to choose from.
Ask yourself what your space needs. Are the stairs going to be more functional or aesthetic? Do you want the staircase to be the focus, or prefer it to be muted?
- Space compatibility: think about the overall theme of your space and where the staircase will sit. Does a traditional, modern, or minimalist design best suit the area?
- Trending designs: get to know the latest trends. We’ve mentioned Pinterest, but there are plenty of staircase trend articles available with ideas. For a more local perspective, check out our Insta to see our current projects and trends in South Africa.
A friendly tip – trends come and go, so choose something modern and timeless. Our materials section can help you achieve that.
Once you settle on a shape and style, it’s time to choose the materials. Consider material costs against the cost of maintenance. Some materials need more upkeep than others. For example, hardwood is a popular choice for staircases, but it may cost more to maintain than metal or concrete.
Some things to consider when selecting materials:
- Durability: choose materials that are strong enough to withstand daily use. Steel and concrete are known for longevity.
- Sourcing: materials need to be sourced and manufactured. Custom staircase designs may require more sourcing and manufacturing time, work with our consultants to draw up a plan and schedule.
- Appearance: some shapes and styles pair well with specific materials. For example, an industrial-chic look goes well with dark metal or timber.
Here’s a quick glance at the pros and cons of different materials:
|Stainless Steel||High durability, aesthetically appealing, versatile, easily available, low maintenance||High cost, challenging installation|
|Mild Steel||Moderate durability, aesthetically appealing, versatile, cost-effective||Moderate maintenance|
|Glass||Good durability, aesthetically appealing, good for natural light, environmentally sustainable, this refers to the balustrading and the treads. The stair structure will be metal||Glass is only an option for the balustrading|
|Timber||Aesthetically appealing||Maintenance, low fire resistance, moderate durability, susceptible to weather and elements, expensive|
5. The Budget
Your budget gives you an idea of what materials and styles you can work with. Here are some ways to optimise it:
- Quality: safety and durability should never be compromised. When selecting shapes, styles, and materials, investing in high-quality materials and craftsmanship can serve you for years to come.
- Long-Term Costs: choosing low-cost materials and construction may work short term, but it could result in higher maintenance later, with more expenses down the line. Work out a budget that balances upfront costs and long-term value.
- Multiple Quotes: research material costs and get quotes from different suppliers. Comparing quotes shows you what to expect cost-wise, so you can find good quality services that suit your budget.
Putting It All Together
Staircases are pivotal design elements that are both functional and aesthetic. Planning is crucial to building a staircase, and so is research. Spend as much time as you need to go over shapes, trends, materials, and costs to design and create something that personalises your space and stands the test of time.