Your staircases don’t need to be boring! Yes, your stairs obviously serve the functional purpose of allowing you to move up and down between your floors, but you can still have fun designing unique staircases that fit the style of your home. We find that our homeowners often do not know how many different styles are out there when it comes to stairs so we want to break them all down to help you choose a design that will have a powerful impact on the look and feel of your space. First, we want to explain what stair stringers are and the different types of stringers, then we will highlight the most common types of staircase design our clients choose for their homes.
Types of Stair Stringers
Let start with the basics: treads and risers. Treads are the horizontal portion of a set of stairs that you step on while risers are the vertical portion between each tread. Both elements can be made from a variety of materials including wood, glass, tile, composite, stone, and steel. The treads and risers are fixed into the stair stringer which is a vertical support and structural element that runs along each side or the centre of the staircase to keep everything sturdy. Since different stringers can be paired with different types of treads and risers, there are a ton of different combinations that make staircase design interesting.
One of the most common types of stringers is called a closed stair stringer, or routed, housed, side and box stringer. These stringers are attached on both outer sides of the treads and risers so that the stairs are closed in between them. The edge of each tread is not visible and the vertical supports for the handrails are usually added to the top of the stringer. On the other hand, open stair stringers (also called sawtooth stringers) are more exposed and the side of each tread is visible from the side view of the staircase.
Then there are mono, twin, and cantilevered stair stringers. Just as the name would suggest, mono stringers use one singular stringer that runs beneath the centre of the treads. These stringers need to be heavy-duty to support the staircase and are normally made of metal that is welded to each tread. Twin stringers are similar but have two stringers take the place of one mono stringer. Going a step further, cantilevered stringers are actually placed inside a wall and are not visible at all. They include a single side stringer that is reinforced so that the treads come out of the wall itself, leaving the tread open on the other side of the staircase. In fact, all three types of stringers will have open risers and a more modern feel to them.
Types of Staircases
Now onto the types of staircases you can create by combining different treads, risers, and stringers! Here are the most popular staircases we design for our clients when renovating their homes. We’ve included a photo of our work underneath each type of staircase as an example but there is truly an endless supply of options and combinations. Our team is happy to help explain these designs further with you so that we can create your dream space.
1) Straight Stairs
Straight stairs do not have a change in direction and move continuously from one floor to the next. They are one of, if not the most, common types of staircases you will find in both residential and commercial buildings. They are functional and simple in design, so they fit almost every space and are the easiest to navigate. Since they are so simple, you can dress straight stairs with almost any type of risers, treads, and stringers to make them your own. It is also possible to have a straight staircase with a central landing used to break up the flight.
2) L-Shaped Stairs
A variation of the straight stairs, L-shaped staircases have a bend in some portion that is often achieved by adding a landing at the transition point. There are variations of this type of staircase as the bend is often 90 degrees but does not need to be and the landing can be placed closer to the top or bottom. There is also the option to create winder stairs that are L-shaped but use pie-shaped or triangular steps near the corner instead of a flat landing. These types of staircases can be more dynamically appealing than straight stairs and can also add privacy to your home.
3) U-Shaped Stairs
This type of stairs is becoming increasingly more popular because they can be more visually appealing than the first two staircase options and they are one of the easiest staircases to incorporate into a small space. U-shaped staircases are essentially two parallel flights of straight stairs joined by a landing. Instead of turning at the 90-degree mark like the L-shaped stairs, this design creates a 180-degree turn and is often referred to as a switchback staircase since it turns back onto itself in direction. U-shaped stairs are also great for easy navigation and are more accessible since they provide a natural resting area on the way up or down.
4) Spiral & Curved Stairs
Want to make a grand impression? Spiral or curved stairs are for you! They are both often used in foyers or entryways because of how elegant and interesting they can look. Both spiral and curved staircases make turns without the use of any sort of landing platform. Spiral staircases follow a helical arc and usually have a compact design with treads that rotate around a central pole or beam. Similarly, curved stairs also follow a helical arc but tend to have a much larger radius and do not complete a full circle. If you are worried about space but still want to add some grandness to your home, we suggest going for a spiral staircase over a curved one since the former option is great for small, compact spaces while the latter usually requires larger, more open areas.
5) Open Stairs
Open and exposed staircases are perhaps the most popular renovation choice right now because of their modern look and feel. Going back to the mono, twin, and cantilevered stringers we explained earlier, open stairs have open rather than enclosed risers meaning the vertical space between each tread is exposed. These staircases sometimes appear to be floating and can add interest and spaciousness to any room. Open staircases can be designed as a straight flight, quarter turn staircase, half turn staircase or even as a S-shape staircase but you need to make sure everything is properly supported and safe to use.
Trust CHART with Your Staircase Design
We hope this blog gave you a better insight into the world of staircase design. Remember that you can have fun with your staircases to give your space exactly the look and feel that you are hoping for. Here at CHART, our team will always walk you through all of your options and suggest design ideas based on our expertise. You can trust CHART to keep your best interests in mind when recommending the best projects, materials, styles, layouts, and more that will stand the test of time. Whether you’re at the very beginning concept phase or already have some designs in mind, we’re here to get the job done for you with top-notch quality and craftsmanship. When beginning your home renovation projects, trust the Canadian Home and Renovation Team to make the right choices and help guide you through the process.
CHART is proud to be celebrating over 40 years as one of the most prestigious renovators in the Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph area. Contact us to begin preparing your home for renovations, home addition, or to get your custom home project started!