Types of Staircases

A staircase is like a doorway on steroids. Not only will stairs take you to an entirely different floor, but they’re often the lovely focal point of the home. A landing can be an architectural and decorative delight. The banister can be smoothly inobtrusive, wonderfully dramatic or a playfully crafted piece which transforms the whole house.

Options in staircases depend on their location, where they go, and their basic shape. The more complicated the form, the more complicated the components of the stairs, such as the treads, railing, and landings, will be. Here we explore the basic staircase shapes:

Straight staircases

We didn’t do these stairs but think they’re very nice.  Minister’s Staircase in Buckingham Palace

We didn’t do these stairs but think they’re very nice. Minister’s Staircase in Buckingham Palace

Straight staircases are the simplest kind of stairs and usually the easiest to build, maintain and repair. They do take up a lot of square footage and leave an open space between floors which cuts down on privacy.

L-shaped staircase

A staircase with a bend along the length which turns (usually) 90 degrees. A staircase which has a landing at the turn which isn’t directly in the middle of the stairs is called a “long L staircase.’

L-shaped stairs are handy in corners, allow for more privacy than a straight staircase. They are also safer, as they offer a resting or crowd control spot at the bend. An L-shaped stairway requires additional support and more elaborate plans and rails.

U-shaped staircase

U-shaped staircases are switchback stairs, or stairs with two landings, also called double-L stairs. U-shaped stairs offer a lot of architectural options and interest but are more complicated to build than a straight or L-shaped pattern.

Winder staircase

Winder stairs are the type which turns but has no landing. Instead, the turns are navigated in the form of triangularly-shaped treads. They need a center support but are compact and exciting, which makes them popular.

Spiral staircases

Spiral staircases offer the most compact of all designs but are a nightmare to use on a regular basis or try to use while carrying anything, mainly furniture. They are usually pie-shaped treads ascending around a single pole.

Curved staircases

Curved staircases don’t wind, but they aren’t straight. The curve is typically acute enough to be noticeable but not so severe that it affects movement or safety. Curved stairs are beautiful, elegant, and a nightmare to build and repair.

Each type of staircase has benefits and drawbacks. Each kind of staircase plan comes with its own set of challenges, and specific challenges and charms are inherent to all stairs. In the future, we will explore some of these in more detail and offer suggestions to make the staircase as beautiful and functional as it can be.

The Wood Doctor is the leader in wood restoration, refinishing and refacing in the Portland area. Let us rebuilt or restore your stairs or banister. Call 503-560-5220 for a project consultation.