The minimum headroom is 2000mm. Headroom is a constant problem in staircase design. More often than not headroom problems on a staircase are the result of a lack of understanding of staircase design in general.
There are many mistakes made when calculating headroom and we can’t list them all but careful planning can avoid them all. If in doubt call one of our consultants. Make sure you get it right first time.
We know that every square metre of space in a house is very valuable and many designers like to allocate as much space as possible to living areas. Stairs are probably the most used thoroughfare in any two-story home and our experience tells us that customers can be greatly disappointed by a staircase that is sparing in width.
Width becomes an issue particularly where winder steps are involved and all winder steps seem steeper as the stair gets narrower. Unfortunately traditional winder steps also become unusable the wider the stair gets because the steps become too big and the walking line becomes uncomfortably large. We recommend a minimum width of 900 mm for domestic stairs and wider if possible.
Remember when drawing a stair on plan, if you specify the stairwell width to be 900 mm the stair will be up to 100 mm less than that in clear width. This is because other stair components such as newel posts, handrails and cappings encroach on that clear space. Again our consultants are always available should you require assistance in this area.
Please remember that a low riser height or a wide step on their own do not automatically make for a comfortable walking stair. The combination of the riser height and going (width of step from nosing to nosing) is what counts. If for instance you have a 160 mm riser height and a 240 mm going, the stair would be almost un-walkable. On the other hand if you have a 160 rise and a 280 going then the stair would walk beautifully. So it’s all about ratios and combinations. A rise of 190 combined with a going of 240 whilst quite steep, is safe and comfortable to walk on. A stair with a 280 going and a 190 rise is not.
When specifying stair components such as newel posts for instance, don’t expect the posts that have been specified at ‘100mm x 100mm turned’ to be finished that size. 100mm x 100mm is a sawn size. That means that when the manufacturer buys the material in a raw state it is approximately that size, but after being machined or dressed will be reduced by up to 10%. So a 100 x 100 post will end up being 90 x 90. This should be specified in the stair builders quote, but even if they nominate finished sizes some tolerance should be allowed for.
It is important to keep in mind that when ordering a stair or anything made of timber, that timber is a natural material and the colour does vary. Total colour match will never be achieved. An attempt should be made by the manufacturer to minimise colour discrepancy and total mismatch, but sometimes this is very difficult. So colour differences are a part of the nature of timber, the same as differences in grain patterns and should be admired as a part of the character of the overall product.
Balustrading and handrail heights are set minimums in the Building Code of Australia and therefore must be adhered to. It is important to note that when specifying these heights on plans that finished floor surfaces including carpet be taken into account. The stair manufacturer should be well aware of the potential for disaster when such tolerances haven’t been allowed for, but now so are you.
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