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Stairs: from Basic to Fantastic

Stairs are fascinating. They create this strong impression on us with their height, their repetitive pattern and ability to become true architectural masterpieces. In few touches of creativity, any stairs can turn from basic to fantastic.

Stairs structure

To know how to transform a stairs, it’s important to understand how it’s built and which part can be converted to another shape or material. There is a structure which is necessary to keep the stairs safe and comfortable to climb :

  • The spinder : which holds the steps together and gives stability ;
  • The tread : where the foot land when climbing up the stairs ;
  • The riser : Closing the space inbetween 2 treads ;
  • The railing or balister : which guarantees the security by avoiding any falls.

These 4 items are forming a functional staircase and they are the one we transform to create unique masterpieces in buildings.

The stringer

The stringer make the stairs what it is : several treads regularly fixed to reach the next floor.

A stairs can have one central stringer but can also have 2 on the sides or 3 if the width needs it. In its basic shape, the stringer would be like a beam, roughly attached to the floor and going diagonally to the floor of the next level.

But stringer can also be 2 glass panels on each side of the stairs, or a thin metal sheet underneath it. It could also disappear to prefer a fixation directly in the wall, making the steps look as if they were flying.

The stringer can’t be freely designed as it guarantees the stability of the stairs. It should respect a specific diagonal to make it comfortable to climb but having these constraints doesn’t mean you can’t imagine adding some aesthetical twist to it.

 

The tread

This is the only part of the stairs which can’t disappear as it’s where the foot lands. The most invisible to expect will be by using a perforated metal sheet or transparent glass.

Every staircase starts with the treads and the treads will define the identity of the stairs. Will they be in wood ? Concrete ? Will they be in a neutral tone or a flashy green color ?

Will they be fixed between 2 walls or hold to only one wall individually so they look as if floating in mid-air ? Or maybe they will be at one with the riser thanks to a folded sheet of metal ?

As soon as the specified dimensions are respected, sky is the limit.

 

The riser

The riser is the vertical space defined between 2 treads.

Either a point of view on the room beneath the stairs by letting it open, or a way to optimize the space by converting it into small storages, the riser fills in a void.

No real necessity in the structure of the stairs, it’s more an aethetic item. It can be the place for all creative finishes and solutions or be completely absent.

 

The railing

The railing or balister is the part of the stairs which can be easily changed. And that’s usually the first one to be transformed. Not having a structural impact on the stairs in most cases, it’s an ad-on which can take any shape.

Actually, even if there are some security rules to follow, in a home, it can even take no shape at all and disappear, leaving the security aspect to the user’s full responsability.

Perforated metal, glass, ropes, wooden batten, cables, hairnet or sculptural creation. Again, sky is the limit.

 

No matter if your stairs are straight, L-shaped, U-shaped, spiral or curved, any staircase can be taken from basic to fantastic by changing few aspects of it.

If your stairs already exists, changing the railing is the easiest. If you are thinking about creating a brand new staircase, contact a professionnal as stairs has to be done with really specific dimensions, all depending of the height you need to climb, the lenght available, etc. Not an easy work which can’t be done lightly.

 

What your stairs look like ? Share your experience and pictures in the comments below !

For inspiration, head to my Pinterest board or ask for the newsletter to get everything directly in your inbox !

Have an amazing day

Emilie

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