When contemplating building-stairs you have to take into account the space for the height, rise, and number of stairs necessary for them.

There are a few things you'll want to consider in deciding upon the type of stair you'll build:

  • Open stairway to a basement

  • Winding staircase to an upper floor

  • Enclosed stairway

  • Circular stairs in limited space

Open Stairway to a Basement

By having an open stairway to the basement, a feeling of more space is created for the room that the stairs are in.

When building stairs with an open stairway, you have to have some type of stair-rail and a baluster.

The Baluster

The baluster can be made various ways. Basically it is a barrier to prevent people from falling into the open stairwell. Typically it can be made of wood, or metal rails with spindles. On the other hand, you may want a half wall with a fancy top plate.

There are some disadvantages to an open stairway, and that mainly is the infiltration of cold air to the main floor from the basement. Code usually requires that there be an enclosed area at the bottom of the stairs to the basement, but that doesn't necessarily stop the cold air from coming upstairs.

Our furnace man put in a big 8 inch vent direct to the outside, which is to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. This requires your furnace room be insulated and enclosed, to prevent cold air from escaping to the main floor. This is one of my main gripes about an open stairway. I am constantly having to cover myself with a quilt or blanket.

Enclosed Stairway

If you want to avoid the cooler air infiltrating your home, then enclosing the staircase with a door at the top of the stairs is a good treatment for your stairs.

We had this type of stairway in a previous home, and the door at the top of the stairs was perfect to hold the cooler air from the main floor. However, we did have a wood stove in the basement, and we would open the door when we wanted the heat to come up in the wintertime.

Winding or Curved Staircase

In the newer homes today, where “open” is the rule, then double high ceilings with a balcony at the top of the stairs is the way many people handle their upstairs staircase. It is not easy to keep a room like this heated, because heat rises. However, the winding staircase with the balcony at the top is an appealing interior design.

In building-stairs, a curved staircase such as this can be in the entryway, or in the living area of the home, depending upon your architects' design.

Small homes with limited space may do a metal staircase that winds around a center pole. The drawback with this type in building-stairs is figuring out how to get the beds and dressers up to the next floor. These staircases are unique and the design lends an impressive memory to the beholder.

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