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Comparison of stair types

A look at different types of stairs, focusing on design features, requirements and the advantages or disadvantages of each stair type.
Stair types Features Advantages Disadvantages Requirements

Straight stairs

Straight stairs diagram

  • Simplest design
  • No turns
  • Used most in home construction
  • Easy to construct
  • Less expensive
  • Long open space or high ceiling required
  • Difficult to accommodate in the floor plan
  • Should comply with the general design requirements on risers, goings and slope

L-Shaped stair (quarter-turn stair)

L-shaped stair diagram
  • One landing at some point along the flight of steps
  • Useful when the space required for a straight stairs is not available
  • Possible to be located in the corner
  • Provision of resting place and the reduced distance of fall (same as L-shaped stair)
  • Probable to need more floor space than a straight stair
  • More difficult to construct than straight stairs


  • The length and width of the landing should not be less than the width of the stairway
  • Landings should have a minimum vertical clearance of not less than 2000mm
  • Landings must be less than 750mm (where this involves a change in direction, the length is measured 500mm from the inside edge of the landing)
  • Landings have a gradient not steeper than 1:50


U (double L – shaped) stairs (half-turn stair)

U-shaped stair diagram
  • Two flights of steps parallel to each other
  • 180° turn at one large landing
  • Useful when there need many raisers but small floor space
  • Provision of a place to rest and the reduced distance of fall (same as the L-shaped stair)

Winder stairs

Winder stair diagram
  • Pie-shaped stairs which are substituted for a landing
  • Less space required then L and double L stairs
  • Less safe than L and double L stairs due to the lack of step uniformity of winders
  • The width of winders should be sufficient at midpoint
  • The going of the winders should be constant

Spiral/Circular stairs

Spiral stair diagram
  • Circular stairs: sweeps in a broad curve from one level to another
  • Spiral stairs: twists around a centre pole, from which steps radiate out
  • Can be used where little space is available
  • Ideal for access to attic, basement rooms, and lighthouse
  • Better aesthetics
  • Hard to climb
  • Not safe as they have winder steps
  • Not suitable for primary stair
  • The radius to the centre-line of the stairway should not be less than 600mm
  • The maximum width of the curved stairway should be 750mm


All timbers used are recycled aged timber products. It contains defects and characteristics which are both naturally occurring and sustained through past use. The stair and balustrade timber components may be affected by changes in ambient air temperature and humidity changes. All timbers used have been sufficiently dried to ensure acceptable moisture contents and have been stored as long as possible in SE Queensland to stabilize at normal local ambient conditions before final working and sealing of the timber.

It is recommended that the timbers be inspected after three months and before six months from the date of commissioning of the building to determine extent of any movement and any tightening or adjustment that may be necessary upon re-stabilization of the timber components. Accordingly, some minor maintenance may be required as a result of any such movement.

Cleaning of timber products:

  • In most cases, soapy water is all that is necessary to clean timber work, and surfaces should be wiped dry immediately after cleaning to avoid water penetration into timber.
  • Avoid wetting, high amounts of water will damage the timber if it penetrates the finish.
  • It is suggested that an ordinary furniture polish will be satisfactory for heavier cleaning purposes.
  • Avoid cleaners containing acids, solvents or abrasives.

Published on: 03-Aug-2010. Topic/s: Stairs 101,Feature staircase design