It is very difficult to imagine a stylish house without staircases. With the exception of single storied homes with pitched roofs, almost all homes are built with staircases. Stairways are built not only to access the upper floor levels, but also to approach the main gate if the house is built on an elevated plain. Michel De Broin’s stairway in Parc Maisonneuve-Cartier acts as a major public art installation in Montreal. Double height rooms have stairways built inside the room. Many old buildings in Canada still retain the oak stairways that give access to the upper level of the libraries, home offices and conservatories. Some of the common stair types of residential buildings include the following:
Straight stairs – This is one of the most common stair designs for commercial and residential buildings. Their simplicity of design makes them an attractive choice for minimally decorated contemporary homes. Their design makes them easier to build and install.
On the negative side, you need to have greater amount of linear space to build these types of stairs. If you build one which is more than 12 feet high, then you must prepare a landing in the middle. This way you make your stairs safe and comfortable for frequent use. But this increases the need for linear space even further.
L- Shaped stairs – This type of stair is built with a 90-degree turn. A landing is designed to ease this transition. This type of stairs is aesthetically pleasing and provides greater privacy for the interior than straight stairs. They have a more complex design, so naturally are more difficult to build.
Moreover, L-shaped stairways can cause problems while transporting household items from one floor to another, especially in a house where stairway is excessively narrow due to the unavailability of space. Winder stairs look similar to the L-shaped stairs. But they have triangular landings. Consequently, they are less safe than the conventional L-shaped design.
Spiral stairs – This is one of the most elegant stairway designs that survived the change of tastes in different ages. They are frequently built inside double height rooms and libraries. Sometimes they are built to give access to the terrace area. They can be designed to act as a fire escape. They boast of an attractive variety of designs. However, this type of stairway is not as age friendly and safe as the conventional staircase designs.
Some of the most frequently used raw materials for stairs are wood, concrete, stone, metal, glass and clear acrylic. Sometimes a combination of materials like wood and metal or concrete and wood are used to build stylish stairs in Canadian homes. Oak, hickory, maple, beech, pine and cherry are the most frequently used wood types for stairs. While wood boasts of unmatched beauty and is known to be very durable, it is not the easiest material to maintain. You need to periodically paint and varnish the wood to maintain its health.
To make it noiseless, a wooden stairway must also have soft runners. Stone stairways made of concrete and covered by granite, marble or limestone look chic. However they can be heavy and should have additional metal reinforcements to prevent any kind of accidents. Metal stairways are frequently installed in contemporary homes. It is one of the preferred materials for the spiral staircases. Wrought iron stairways can have a stylish design. They are also very durable.
Reinforced glass and clear acrylic are contemporary favourites. As a material, both of them is very durable. They don’t absorb moisture and are easy to clean. But they can be expensive. It is difficult to keep acrylic stairways free from scratches. Wooden staircases cost between $2000 CAD and $4700 CAD to build and install. You will be able to build a 12-step staircase in this price. Concrete staircases of the same length cost around $2400 CAD. Glass staircases of the same size cost more than $5600 CAD. You will be able to build a metal spiral staircase of 4 feet diameter within $1200 CAD.
While choosing the design of your staircase, don’t forget to search for stylish balusters and handrails. You may ask your stairway designer to custom design balusters and handrails for your home. Consider buying wood and metal balusters with box or turned newel designs. While box newels have a simpler form and are an excellent choice for the modern buildings, turn newels are more ornate. Fluted or rope newels are ideal for classical or country style dwellings. Cable railing is preferred for the contemporary homes. Handrails can have a stair or moulded look. For a more elegant style, wooden handrails can be combined with metal balusters.
Use LED stair lighting fixtures to pep up the décor of this part of the building. A brightly lit stairway is essential from the safety point of view as well. You may install low glare step lighting or low level wall lighting for this purpose. This type of wall lighting is installed close to the steps. Both of these stair lighting types are available in various shapes. Buy lighting fixtures with dimmer options. They are more energy efficient. Stylish chandelier, single or multi-level pendant gives the entire space a welcoming feel. You may install decorative floor lamps on the landings.
It is neither possible nor necessary to stylise a stairway with too many objects of décor. Stair runners are must have accessories for your home. They not only increase the charm of the interiors, but also help you design a skid free stairway. Reinforced glass or acrylic staircases don’t need runners. Don’t forget to place a prominent piece of sculpture and potted plants on the landing. Choose stylish planters that match the colour scheme of the interiors. Decorate the walls with fine art paintings, photographs or tapestry.