If you’re remodeling or building a home that needs a staircase, the thing you think about first before deciding the materials or style is what type of staircase it will be. You think of the actual shape of the staircase perfect for your space. There are many types of stairs, but it is essential to choose what sort of staircase will be ideal for the structure and available space of your home. Let’s take a look at the types of staircases that are most commonly used in residential settings:
1. Straight stairs
Straight staircases feature a simple, single linear flight of stairs. It’s one of the most extensive, economical and hassle-free style. It’s the easiest stair to go up and down from, and the easiest to build as well, with steps uniformly placed with each other. It only needs to be connected at the top and the bottom, with no supporting structure required. Measuring and building of handrails and railings will be simpler also. Straight stairs may or may not have a touchdown or a central landing, as long as every steps go in the same direction.
If you want to build a straight stair for your home, make sure you have the space. A straight staircase uses up a fair amount of linear space that needs careful planning to make it efficient. Also, straight stairs don’t create a sense of privacy between the other floors of the house, unlike other stair types.
2. L-shaped or quarter-turn stairs
L-shaped stairs are like a straight stair with a 90-degree bend in some portion to change direction. This bend is achieved by adding a landing at the transition point of the bend. If the landing is closer to the bottom or top of the stairs, it is referred to as a long L-stair. It’s more visually interesting than a straight stair, and it provides a visual barrier between the floors to add a bit of privacy. It’s also safer and more comfortable than the straight stairs, as the landing reduces the number of threads if anyone happens to fall in a flight, and it can serve as a spot to rest and breathe while ascending the stairs. Because of its shape, it also needs less amount of linear space and can be placed in a corner area for a more efficient use of space.
Because of its design, L-shaped stairs are a bit more complicated to build, and it needs a supporting structure. It also doesn’t suit a lot of house floor plans, as this type of stairs most often suits a corner area.
3. U-shaped or half-turn stairs
The U-shaped staircase is an efficient and compact stair design. It produces a bend, but unlike the L-shaped staircase, it is taken further so that the landing separates two parallel flights of stairs. These are more practical in terms of space, and is as secure as the L-shaped stairs because of the in-between landing (incase somebody accidentally falls down the stairs). This type of stairs offer architectural interest and more privacy for the floor above. It best suits houses with high ceilings, or houses with more than two floors, so all the staircases only occupy one vertical space in the house.
The only disadvantages of U-shaped stairs are that it’s more difficult to build, and also, it is more tiring to go up and down the stairs repeatedly (like for instances when you forget to bring something from upstairs) because you always need to make a full turn.
4. Winder stairs
Winder stairs are a variation of the L-shaped stairs – instead of a flat landing in between, they have triangular or wedge-shaped steps at the bend, serving as a transition. The main advantage of having winder stairs is it occupies less space than other types of stairs. It also creates visual interest, since the seamless steps create a smoother transition. It gives many fluid lines and more seamless shift from one level to the next.
Because of the triangular steps at the transition, it can be a little harder to navigate than L-shaped stairs. It’s also more complicated to plan and layout since it needs extremely exact computations so the wedges will fall seamlessly at the corners. These wedge-shaped steps also make turns more difficult to step on, and this may cause an accident for those who accidentally miss a step.
5. Spiral stairs
Spiral stairs is a more compact style choice for a house, and the wedge-shaped treads are placed around a single pole. It’s the most interesting lay-out, and when you look at it from above, it forms a perfect circle. It’s economical and attractive. The center pole and landing provide the structural support for the stairs, making it easy to install. These types of stairs are commonly used for getting up on an attic, a mezzanine floor, or a loft area where space is at a premium; and also for moving from a balcony to the garden.
The downside of having a spiral staircase is that only one person can use it at once, and it would be very difficult to carry large items up and down these stairs. Because it’s more difficult to navigate compared to other types of stairs, it is not allowed by codes to be used as a primary access to a full second floor. To improve walkability, consider going for larger spiral stairs, with at least 5 feet in diameter if possible.
6. Curved stairs
A curved staircase brings a sense of elegance and sophistication to any home. It’s an arched staircase with no landings, with steps following the bend of the banister to make an architectural statement. Due to its elegant appearance, it is commonly placed in entryways to make a grand impression of the house. This style is often used in more traditional types of houses, but it can also be adapted to modern and contemporary designs styles.
However, curved stairs are the hardest of all to plan and construct, since very element should be curved. When it’s finished, it becomes an achievement for any stair builder or fabricator, and this is why it is expensive to build.
The grandest of all stair types, bifurcated stairs have a wide flight of stairs that splits off into two narrow flights starting from either side of the landing. Perhaps you’ve seen it in movies with royal settings. Today, it’s more commonly used for public buildings on their entrance halls. Few homeowners adapt to this style of stairs unless they own a big mansion.