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From Here to There: Staircases

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   by Leslie Patterson

Most anyone with a multi-level home plan would agree that the staircase is an invaluable architectural component.

Luxury home double staircase

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It is how they get from point A to point B, where miscellaneous jackets and shoes find a resting place until they can be properly put away, and where the kitty likes to nap when you are tired of having her underfoot. Although these staircases are extremely functional, do not underestimate their integral role in your home's interior design.

Staircases for floor home plan come in vast shapes and sizes, designed to fit perfectly within the space you have available. They can be steep or gradual, simple or grand, and built in place or prefabricated, but ultimately the layout depends upon the function. Before running out to scrounge for the perfect staircase, you should first consider:

  1. How much traffic will your staircase be receiving? Will there be multiple staircases exposed to different amounts of traffic?
  2. Who will be using those staircases? Do they require broader steps or specific handrails?
  3. How are the rooms nearby being used? Does the stairwell reach up into a room or does it meet a landing? How will this affect the staircase traffic and presentation?
Rustic Wood Staircase

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In addition to knowing the answers to these questions, it is also important to be familiar with some terms that will be used when discussing your staircase selection:

  • Tread – the part of the step that is stepped upon
  • Riser – vertical portion between steps
  • Nosing – the edge of the tread that slightly overhangs the riser beneath it
  • Stringers – the beams on either side that support the stairs as the treads rest in notches
  • Balustrade – the system of banisters and guards (balusters) that add to the safety and decor of a staircase
Curved staircase

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All staircases are made using these fundamental parts, though some are optional depending on design; for example, some staircases have open risers (no risers) or may only utilize one stringer. Although the parts vary, as do the staircase shapes, it is vital to find one that fits into the floor plan while complementing your home:

  • Straight – One run from the lower level to the upper level, it is the easiest to build but can complicate floor plans. It takes up a fair amount of space to run a straight staircase without a steep slope.
  • Return Stair – This staircase divides the run, reversing the direction of the steps 180 degrees at a landing. This is typical of many schools and public buildings.
  • "L" Stair – This makes a 90-degree (right angle) turn at a landing, creating an "L" if seen from above.
  • Winder – Almost like an "L" stair, the winder turns the stairwell 90 degrees but does not utilize a landing. This takes up less space but also compromises safety as the treads located at the turn become wedge shaped and the length narrows on the inside of the curve. When using a winder staircase, one must be careful to step on the tread where it is wider to avoid slipping.
  • Circular Stair – The staircase sweeps in a broad curve from one level to the next. All treads remain the same length.
  • Spiral Stair – This staircase spirals up and around with or without utilizing a center pole. It is a great design for limited floor space and grand statements.

When installing a staircase in your dream house plan it is important to abide by local building codes. Seek out numerous professionals and see what shapes they would recommend for your home and obtain as much information as possible to ensure numerous options as well as quality craftsmanship. After the initial shape has been decided, you will also need to discuss if you would like solid wood staircases or overlaid carpeting or runners. This information will aid in construction and installation, in addition to providing you with the look you truly desire.

House Plans and More has over 17,000 house plans and project plans to choose from in a variety of styles and sizes. Start searching for your dream home now.

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