Our building designers selected some essential key points you need to consider before you design your staircase. These key points will help you to ensure that their location is appropriate, their use is comfortable and they are safe for all users. Although a staircase may constitute a functional purpose, it is also a dominant design element to the entire home.
When designing a two storey house the location of the stairs needs to be taken into consideration early in the sketching phase.
Try to locate the stairs in the central location and ideally, close to the entrance and the living areas. Keep in mind that you also want to save travel time throughout the house. Having the stairs in a central location can offer privacy between public and private space.
- Compliance with the Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia
Ensure the design of the stairs complies with the Australian Standards. The BCA (Building Code of Australia) specifies what is required for the length (also called the “going”) and height (“riser”) of the treads, the maximum length of a flight along with the minimum landing length etc. For each design (e.g. straight, half turned, quarter turned or spiral staircase) it identifies what you can/can’t do.
See below an excerpt of the requirements for riser and going dimensions. The most comfortable stair rise and run is 160mm and 260mm respectively.
Most people under-estimate the size of stairs. Once all the required dimensions and circulation space around the stairs are determined, it will become apparent that stairs can take a considerable amount of space. The common size for a typical Australian stair can easily reach 1.4m wide x 5.9m long. Considering this, you can be creative and opt for a storage space underneath the stairs to avoid wasted space. If the stairs have 2.1m clearance, you can even fit a bathroom on the underside of the stairs (ensure it is compliant by checking with the latest version of the BCA and our building surveyor). ⇒ CLICK HERE ⇐ to contact our building surveyor for any further inquiries.
- Staircase design
There are many stair design options to choose from, however, they are dependent on the available space and the overall interior design theme of your home. Here are some examples:
- Straight flight: the simplest form of stairs with no change of direction. Usually located against a wall or between two walls.
- 90 degrees’ flights or quarter turn: this type of stair is quite efficient for a tiny two storey house. You also have the possibility to follow a different angle as long as it complies with the latest BCA requirements.
- Return flights: the return flights stair can be built as a free standing design or against a wall. It is the most common and the safest stair used in Australia. The return flights is mostly used for apartment buildings because it is able to accommodate a lift between the flights.
- Spiral stairs: usually built with cantilevered treads fixed on a central load bearing post. Spiral stairs can be pretty costly and are not very common in residential construction. However, it is a good option if you want to save space.
Although you can choose a stair design that is simple and cost effective, yet add value to your home considering it is well incorporated into the building layout.
Aside from the design the stair construction material is also quite important as it considerably impacts the price, durability and the overall interior design theme of your home. For example, glass looks elegant and trendy but may be costlier. Some materials such a traditional timber staircase may require more maintenance. To avoid the annoying creaking noises, we suggest the use of a reinforced concrete stair with carpet, cork or similar coverings. The stairs could also be constructed of steel which is a lightweight but sturdy material and can be rendered or even left bare depending on the interior design theme of the home.