A practical guide to choosing a new staircase

A feature staircase can add character and charm to your property. Here's the practical considerations you need to keep in mind

By Caroline Rodrigues | 1 May 2020

With a range of designs and materials to choose from your staircase can become a showstopping focal point.

grand designs staircase - buyer's guide to staircases - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Arquitetural Nacionaltransformed a flat in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with a helical staircase. Positioned in the centre of the room, it leads to a mezzanine bedroom. The design, supported by the steel structure for the upper floor, doesn’t touch the floor.

A staircase can have a huge impact on your home, setting out a design statement and affecting the way everyone moves around the house. It’s also one of the most complex elements to design and construct, so seek advice from an architect or specialist company at the planning stage of your self-build or renovation.

What is permitted?

Everything about the staircase must meet stringent building regulations. This includes the height and depth of each step, the permissible gap between open treads, the rake, or angle, the headroom – usually two metres – and the requirements for a handrail. When replacing older stairs that might not satisfy modern regulations, find a solution that meets current standards. But, there is an exception to this rule ‘if the space is restricted, such as in a mews or cottage, then it is permissible to replace like with like’ says Richard, design director at staircase manufacturer Bisca.