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Staircase Design: 8 Things To Consider

A staircase lets us move up and down between levels. Whether enhancing a two-story volume or creeping through an extremely narrow shaft of space, it is an important element in the overall circulation scheme.

8 Things to Consider while designing the staircase:

1. Logical integration into the structural system at lending points
Stair stringer (tread support that carries the weight) spans between posts and beams or other load bearing elements. The staircase should be designed both in plan and elevation. For additional information, please refer to a downloadable e-book DIY Like an Architect.

2. Placement
Its location in plan needs to correlate with the over-all circulation scheme on all levels. Think three-dimensionally about where the staircase starts and ends up.

3. Dimensional clearances
A person shouldn’t be able to extend and touch the staircase ceiling. It should not be lower than the height of a standard door (6’8”).

4. Safety
Always check applicable building codes for minimum and maximum required dimensions. Make sure that it is well lit from above.

5. Ease of travel
The staircase should be neither too steep or too shallow. For most situations, a riser of 7” (or slightly over) is recommended. All risers must be identical in height. The slightest discrepancy between steps creates a tripping hazard. Intermediate landings can be introduced to lessen the fatigue factor.

6. Approach and departure
The staircase can be approached and departed either directly or perpendicular to a stair run. Landings should equal the width of the stair by a minimum of 3 feet. No doors are allowed to swing over the steps.

7. Shape
When deciding on the type (straight run, “U” return stair, “L,” winder, or spiral) think about function and make sure it fits.

8. Style
Define your aesthetic with a choice of materials for the structural elements. Whether you opt for ornate or minimalist details, they need to follow safety code requirements. Take a look at these for some good ideas!

I hope this is useful. For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me here.

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  1. Mia Kazovsky says:

    I like this post because your glass and wooden spiral staircase is one of my biggest design inspirations! It is a tie between the staircase and the color pink.

    1. Alla DIY Ally says:

      Every time you comment, Mia, I feel truly validated. It’s the most coveted praise. Thank you so much!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

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