How to Choose the Right Kind of Staircase for Your Home

Choosing a staircase for your home may seem like a merely functional activity; however, it can be easy to underestimate the importance of staircase design in your family home. Whether you’re simply looking to renovate or update an existing staircase, or if you’re making major architectural changes to your house, the aesthetics of your stairs will have a decided impact on the overall look of your home.

Before you buy, it’s important to get your head around the different kinds of staircases, specifically the spatial and cost consideration for any installation or renovation. If you’re going to be designing and building a new set of stairs for your family – these are arguably the two most important factors to take into account.

Safety considerations – for the parents or carers reading this, safety will be of paramount concern when installing a new set of stairs. You will want to ensure that babies, toddlers or, at the other end of the spectrum, elderly or dependent relatives, don’t take a tumble. In this case, L-shaped or U-shaped stairs are probably your best bet (more on this later).

Architectural considerations – if you’re installing stairs for the renovation of your home, then you might find yourself limited by architectural considerations. Some of the staircase designs in our list below are, quite honestly, not suitable for smaller residential spaces or cozier family homes, as their design tends to favor bigger and wider spaces. It’s also worth mentioning, as you begin to cost and budget your new staircase, that the more complex design, the more money it will cost you.

How much will a new staircase cost me?

As we have already discussed, this is one of the key considerations for the design and installation of a new set of stairs, and the cost will rise incrementally depending on the type of wood being used, the complexity of the design, and the extent to which you may wish to use contractors – e.g. getting a carpenter to install it for you.

The average cost of installing a set of stairs will usually be around $2800-$5600. Other factors to take into account include the price of any spindles or caps, handrails. The cost of installation will also be dependent on ease of access, with staircases on lower floors being easier to install and construct.

Staircases: which design is right for my home?

Straight Staircases

Straight staircases are the most simple form of stair design, both in terms of the overall layout and in terms of the ability to renovate them later. Many homes will have straight staircases made out of concrete, meaning that they’re easy to update with cladding, be it tiling or timber. In addition, with a straight staircase, you can add a glass stair railing for a more modern look. 

The pros – straight stairs are easy to modernize, re-tile, re-carpet, and generally update if they are part of an already existing property. Handrails for straight stairs are also easier to install. On the whole, straight stairs are the easiest model of stairs to build.

The cons –if you are starting from scratch, straight stairs can take up a lot of space in a floor plan, which is perhaps why you are more likely to find them in commercial buildings, where are accommodated by larger floor plans. They are also less safe models of staircases than U-turn and L-shaped stairwells, as they don’t have a landing to cushion or break any fall or accident.

L-shaped stairs

L-shaped stairs are characterized by their design which sees the stairwell take a 90-degree turn, with a small landing in the middle. They are also complex to build if starting from scratch, or if inserting them into an existing floor plan.

The pros – if your taste is more geared to visual flair, then L-shaped stairs are a good option, as they are more visually interesting in most settings. As we discussed in our previous entry, they are also one of several stair designs which are safer, as the landing space breaking up the stairwell form a cushion from any potential trips or falls.

The cons – a support structure is required for any L-shaped design, though it’s worth mentioning that this can be built into the surrounding walls if necessary. Using the right kind of architectural steel means that any supporting structures can be minimal; however, they will have to be factored into any costings for the stairs.

Winder stairs

Winder stairs are similar in design to L-shaped staircases but offer a more compact design. Instead of a full landing, winder stairs have a triangular tread which breaks up the flight.

The pros–the advantages of winder stairs lie in their compact design, which makes them especially for people wishing to save space. They offer a slightly more elegant design than winder shaped stairs.

The cons – this staircase design is slightly harder to navigate and therefore not as safe as L-shaped stairs. They also require supporting structures.

U shaped stairs

U-shaped stairs are essentially parallel stairs with a 180-degree turn in the middle. Like L-shaped stairs, U-shaped stairs are arguably safer because any fall or trip would be broken by the landing.

The pros – Again, U-shaped stairs are arguably more aesthetically and architecturally interesting to fit into any new building. They will technically take up less floor space than a straight flight of stairs.

The cons – like L-shaped stairs, U-shaped stairs are more complex to build, especially when you factor in hand-rails or support structures.

Helical stairs

Curved/helical stairs are arguably for people who want to add a bit of grace or flourish to their staircase design. It’s worth bearing in mind that this kind of staircase is better used for an entry hall or atrium, to lend a sense of grandeur to larger spaces.

The pros – curved stairs are at their most effective in retail or office spaces, as they offer an incentive for visitors and customers to explore more of the premises. The inherent elegance of the design is also an advantage; curved stair designs definitely make an architectural statement. Curved stairs also don’t require central support or column in the way that spiral staircases do.

The cons–curved stairs are often the most expensive to build, usually due to the curvature of the staircase and the hand-rails. The staircase treads are all of various shapes, because of the shape of the design, adding to the precision and cost of the manufacture required for curved stairs. 

Spiral staircases

Spiral staircases are built around a central pole or structure, although they share a similar tread design to helical/curving staircases. However, spiral staircases will often take up less space. Once again, spiral staircases are very aesthetically appealing and can be an interesting addition to any commercial space or office. It’s worth bearing in mind that they would only be suitable for certain kinds of residential space.

The pros–as well as looking beautiful and elegant, spiral staircases are a good idea for saving space, especially linking floors in open-plan or mezzanine spaces. They also do not need much in the way of extra support structures, as the treads are built around a central pole.

The cons–some building regulations may not allow this type of staircase to be the primary form of access in a building. Much like curved staircases, they are complex in design and can be difficult to build and navigate. This staircase design would not necessarily be suitable for smaller residential homes.

Comments 1
  1. April, I really appreciate all of your tips for choosing the best staircase for your home. I love how you stated that it is important to take into consideration who will be using the stairs to ensure safety. My husband and I are renovating our home and need to find a reputable service that will install our staircase in our house, so we appreciate all of the points you made.

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