Modern Stairs

A stair is a series of steps arranged in such a manner as to connect different floors of a building. Stairs are designed to provide as easy and quick access to different floors. A staircase is an enclosure which contains the complete stairway.

Generally stairs are of following types

1.Straight stairs
2.Quarter turn stairs
3.Half turn stairs
4.Three quarter turn stairs
5.Circular stairs
6.Spiral stairs
7.Curved stairs
8.Geometric stairs
9.Bifurcated stairs and
10.Ladder stairs
11.Combination above types

1. Straight Stairs

These are the stairs along which there is no change in direction on any flight between two successive floors. The straight stairs can be of following types.
  • Straight run with a single flight between floors
  • Straight run with a series of flight without change in direction
  • Parallel stairs
  • Angle stairs
  • Scissors stairs
Straight stairs can have a change in direction at an intermediate landing. In case of angle stairs, the successive flights are at an angle to each other. Scissor stairs are comprised of a pair of straight runs in opposite directions and are placed on opposite sides of a fire resistive wall.

Advantages of straight Stairs
  • Straight stairs tend to be the easiest to go up and down or ascend/descend as we say in the industry.
  • They are typically the easiest to build however this depends allot on the level of detail in the design.
  • Straight stairs only need to be connected at the top and the bottom (no intermediate supporting structure is required).
  • They work well with minimalist designed homes due to their inherent simplicity.
  • By selecting thinner treads, open risers and thin metal stringers, straight stairs can be made more transparent than other types of stairs allowing less obstruction to the view beyond.
  • No landing is required if the number of risers are kept under 16 or the overall vertical height is less than 12 feet.
  • Its relatively easy to build railings and handrails for straight stairs.
  • Measuring for railings is simpler also.
Disadvantages of straight stairs
  • Straight stairs use up a fair amount of linear space which has to be planned for in your design.
  • Some of the other stair types create a privacy barrier between the floors of your home. Straight stairs do not offer this privacy.
  • A stair 12 feet high requires a landing to break up the span. The addition of a landing will use up allot more space and therefore these types of stairs are seldom used in residential construction. You will see these more frequently in large commercial buildings.

2. Quarter Turn Stairs
They are provided when the direction of flight is to be changed by 900. The change in direction can be effected by either introducing a quarter space landing or by providing winders at the junctions.

Advantages of Quater shaped Stairs
  • Quarter Stairs can be more visually interesting.
  • They provide a visual barrier between floors so they can add some privacy.
  • Also Quarter Stairs can help somewhat with sound transmission between floors if the stairs are contained within walls.
  • Some believe they are safer than straight stairs as the central landing reduces the number of treads one could fall in a given flight.
  • The landing can provide a place to stop and rest while ascending.
  • They can be located in a corner of a room if this works better for your design.
Disadvantages of Quarter shaped Stairs
  • Quarter shaped stairs are a bit more difficult to build.
  • A support is typically required for the landing in a Quarter type stair. Often this is built into the surrounding walls so it goes unnoticed. In modern dwellings however it is usually desirable to open up the space leaving the stair structure visible. In these cases the supporting structure can be visually minimized by taking advantage of the strength of steel to create slim supporting members. Through careful engineering,it is possible to eliminate the landing support all together.
  • Handrails for these types of stairs require more skill and planning to construct.
  • In climates where basements are used, stairs are typically stacked over each other for efficient use of space. Since basements are often used for storage, large items can be difficult to move in and out of the basement.

3. Half Turn Stairs

These stairs change their direction through 1800. It can be either dog-legged or open newel type. In case of dog legged stairs the flights are in opposite directions and no space is provided between the flights in plan. On the other hand in open newel stairs, there is a well or opening between the flights and it may be used to accommodate a lift. These stairs are used at places where sufficient space is available.

Advantages of Half Turn Stairs
  • Half Turn stairs can be easier to fit into an architectural plan.
  • They offer some architectural interest.
  • The landing(s) can offer a resting point part way up the stairs.
Disadvantages of Half Turn Stairs
  • These types of stairs are a bit more difficult to build.

4. Three Quarter Turn Stairs

These types of stairs change their directions through 2700. In other words direction is changed three times with its upper flight crossing the bottom one. In this type of construction an open well is formed.

Advantages of Three Quarter Stairs
  • The main advantage of Three Quarter Turn stairs is that they require less space than many other types of stairs. They are very common in older homes, often used as a secondary staircase where the grand staircase may have been in the entry and the winder used as a access to the kitchen.
  • They have more visual interest. The Quarter stairs seem to create a more seamless transition,visually, as they meander around corners. For this reason they have gained popularity in modern homes. Their compactness has also made them attractive in sustainable home designs.
Disadvantages of Three Quarter Stairs
  • Three Quarter Turn stairs are a little harder to navigate than Half Turn stairs.
  • It can be more difficult to add a handrail to these than some of the other types of stairs.
  • Like Half Turn stairs, a center support is typically required.

5. Circular Stairs

These stairs, when viewed from above, appear to follow circle with a single centre of curvature and large radius. These stairs are generally provided at the rear of a building to give access for servicing at various floors. All the steps radiate from a newel post in the form of winders. 

These stairs can be constructed in stone, cast iron or R.C.C...

6. Spiral Stairs

These stairs are similar to circular stairs except that the radius of curvature is small and the stairs may be supported by a center post. Overall diameter of such stairs may range from 1 to 2.5 m.

Advantages of Spiral Stairs
  • One of the key advantages of spiral stairs is their compactness. They are very popular on beach front decks where space is at a premium. They are also used extensively on city lofts for the same reason.
  • Spiral stairs can be attractive and there are may variations on railings styles which can have a major impact on the overall appearance of the stair.
  • Since the center pole and landing typically provide the structural support for the stairs, they do not need much in the way of extra support structures making installation easier than many other types of stairs.
Disadvantages of Spiral Stairs
  • Spiral stairs are more difficult to navigate than other types of stairs. It is for this reason that codes do not allow them to be used as the primary access to a full second floor of a home. Walk ability improves as the outside diameter gets larger so if you have the space, you may want to consider going a bit larger. We recommend going 5 feet in diameter if you can.
  • It is difficult to carry large items up spiral stairs.
  • Only one person can go up or down the stairs at the same time.

7. Curved Stairs

These stairs, when viewed from above, appear to follow a curve with two or more centre of curvature, such as ellipse.

Advantages of Curved Stairs
  • Curved staircases are often very elegant and traditional but this type of design can equally be adapted to contemporary designs.
  • They are relatively easy to walk up (if the radius is large).
Disadvantages of Curved Stairs
  • Curved stairs are by far the most difficult to build of the various types of stairs. In fact building curved stairs represents a pinnacle of achievement for any stair builder or fabricator. For this reason, they are the most costly to build.

8. Geometrical Stairs

These stairs have no newel post and are of any geometrical shape. The change in direction in these stairs is achieved through winders. The stairs require more skill for its construction and are weaker than open newel stairs. In these stairs the open well between the forward and the backward flights is curved.

9. Bifurcated Stairs

These stairs are so arranged that there is a wide flight at the start which is subdivided into narrow flights at the mid-landing. The two narrow flights start from either side of mid landing.

Generally these stairs are more suitable for modern public buildings...

10. Ladder Stairs

Since the definition of a stair is a series of steps leading from one floor to another, we would be remiss if we did not include ladders. Library ladders or loft ladders are becoming more popular to conserve space in smaller, sustainable designs.

Advantages of Ladder Stairs
  • The most compact way to get from one floor to another.
  • Very cost effective due to their simple design.
  • Can have wheels or fold up to move them out of the way when not in use or to prevent access.
  • Can be used to access shelves that would be to high too reach normally.
Disadvantages of Ladder Stairs
  • Ladders are the most difficult to climb, especially while descending.

11. Combination of Different types

Depending upon the requirement of a building or as per owner’s demand few of the types as mentioned above can be combined to design a new stair.