Stairs – the things you may not know
You probably use them every day, but how often do you really think about stairs? We think about them a lot, and we promise you, it’s not as dull a topic as it sounds. It’s easy to think that if your stairs let you effortlessly ascend and descend the different floors of your house, that’s all there is to it. But in reality, there are a multitude of requirements and restrictions that affect the way stairs can be built. Here are the minimum tread and riser sizes code requires:
We also need to consider the maximum gap between any openings in guardrails and risers (no greater than 4″ is allowed), as well as head clearances throughout the entire stair run. There are also code requirements for overall width, handrails size and placement, lighting and any doors and windows near the stairs.
From a layout and design point of view one of the first surprising things, to most people, is the sheer amount of real estate that stairs demand, within any architectural plan. Depending on a handful of variables you need at least 12′ to 13′ in the horizontal direction to move 9′ vertically. Considering where to put the stairs has an effect on a home’s layout, particularly when you need to plan for multiple staircases. When considering how to fit a staircase into a space, we have to simultaneously consider space usage and aesthetics, all while working within a very particular set of restrictions. We actually think that working within those constrictions can be fun, though, because it drives us to think creatively.
In addition we have often taken advantage of the large vertical opening a stair puts into a home to activate some passive heating and cooling within a home. Strategic placement of high windows or operable skylights and lower level doors or windows allows for a chimney effect that can draw cooler air up through the home in the summer. By adding a ceiling fan the warm air that collects at the top of the stairway can be pushed back down into the home in the cold winter months.
Speaking of creativity, stairs offer a unique opportunity to create a beautiful-yet-useful element of your home’s design. Few other parts of the home can take on the sculptural quality that stairs can.
Consider how dramatic spiral staircases always look, or how graphic, bold lines and materials like metal, wire or characterful reclaimed wood can instantly add modern chic to an interior design scheme.
A staircase can be created in a way that highlights your aesthetic preferences and serves as a focal point in your home.
Whether you want to change the shape of a staircase, bring it up to code or simply revitalize it with a new design, get in touch with the Shelter team.
BTW, stairs are also real fun design elements in our restaurant projects also!