In case you are planning to build a new home, you must pay special attention to staircases, especially the dimensions. This is because of the fact that stairs, if not built in a proper way, can turn into safety hazards. In the U.S. itself, thousands of people end up with injuries every year, after falling off from stairs. In most homes, the stairs are the only connecting link between floors, and so they should be stable and strong enough to withstand the regular load they are subjected to, day in and day out. There can be varying guidelines for staircases, and this depends on factors such as the height of the staircase, the total number of steps, and if it is a straight or a spiral staircase. The aim of a staircase design should be to ensure safety of the people who would use it, and also to ensure that it is easy to use. In this article, we shall learn about the standard dimensions of stairs and how they affect the safety aspect.
Here we'll have a look at the various components of a staircase, along with the recommended dimensions for each one of them.
Tread and Tread Depth
The tread is the horizontal surface of the stair on which you step on. Tread depth is the width of the shorter side of the tread surface. According to the standard dimensions, tread depth should be at least 11 inches, and it is highly recommended that the same value of tread depth be maintained throughout, to prevent people from tripping over. You can use colorful stair flooring on the tread to add to the aesthetic appeal of the stairs.
The vertical component between consecutive treads is termed as the riser of the staircase. In other words, it is the height of each step. In most parts of the U.S., it is not legal to have a staircase riser that is more than 7 inches or less than 4 inches high. Similar to the tread depth, it is also mandatory that the riser value is consistent for the entire flight of steps.
Sometimes, you must have noticed the outer edge of the tread surface projecting out. This outward projection is termed as the nosing of the stair. Nosings spell danger from the word go, as people tend to trip over them and fall. It is best recommended to avoid staircases with nosings, but for people who are fascinated with them, see to it that the projection does not exceed 1 ½ inches beyond the edge of the tread surface.
Slope of the Stair
The slope of the staircase is the angle made by the staircase with the ground surface. Ideally, the slope should be a minimum of 30 degrees and a maximum of 50 degrees.
Width of the Stair
When it comes to the width of the staircase, the wider the better! The minimum width permitted by the building laws in the U.S., is 3 ft 6 inches. Also, handrails are recommended for stairs that are more than 44 inches wide.
Landings are the platforms that are constructed at the end of every flight of steps. According to the building laws in the U.S., it is mandatory for staircases to have a landing at least after every 12 feet.
The primary purpose of the railings is to provide safety and prevent people from falling off the sides of the stairways. However, railings also serve to enhance the look of the staircase. Without railings, the staircase ends up looking bare, and there's nothing to hold on to in case people slip on the stairs. The minimum height of railings should be 30 to 34 inches with a handrail that is not more than 2 inches in diameter. Also, it is mandatory for railings to have balustrades (vertical components connecting the railings with the stairs) at an interval of 4 inches.
Here are a few points that you need to consider for the overall safety of the people using your stairs.
- Avoid open riser stairs i.e. stairs that do not have risers but only treads, because they are unsafe for children and the elderly.
- Stairs with treads that are constructed to form an angle, are unsafe when compared to normal stairs.
- Make sure that the staircase is well-lit. This can go a long way in preventing mishaps.
- Whenever you find that the stairs are in need of repair, call a professional. Do not try to do it yourself.
This was all about the standard size of stair steps. So, no matter how you design your stair, make sure you incorporate these dimensions in your design. After all, why compromise with safety?