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UK Staircase Designs And Safety Regulations Overview

Designing a staircase for your house build project is an important task that requires careful consideration. To be sure that a staircase design is both aesthetically and practically successful, it’s important to understand the building regulations around staircases and incorporate them into your staircase design.

In this comprehensive pillar post, we will guide you through the essential factors to consider when planning your staircase project. We will begin by providing you with a thorough understanding of building regulations and the significance of incorporating them into your design, as compliance with these regulations is vital for both safety and legal requirements.

By examining how staircase design impacts safety with key factors such as pitch, riser and going measurements, and width regulations, you will have a better understanding of the necessary considerations and design ideas for creating a staircase that is not only safe and compliant but also visually stunning and aligned with your project's budget and schedule.

This post aims to help you achieve a successful staircase design that meets all safety and compliance requirements while reflecting your unique style and project goals. So, let's begin and find out how you may achieve a successful staircase design for a project.

Explore the following chapters:

Looking for more information? Click on each header to check out the expanded posts, where we look at each of these areas one-by-one in more detail.

9 Considerations for Successful Staircase Specification

The success of a staircase specification holds immense power in terms of aesthetics, safety, and project reputation. To ensure a successful staircase specification, there are crucial factors that must be considered.

1. Building Regulations Compliant Staircase Specification

It is essential to adhere to regulations regarding dimensions, riser heights, tread depths, fire safety, and access. Consider different staircase layout designs and materials, such as fire-retardant-treated timber to further enhance safety and minimise fire risk.

2. Location and Space

Where the staircase will be placed should be carefully planned. Strategic placement within the property can transform the staircase into a focal point, add aesthetic value and increase the overall appeal of the property whilst optimising the area available.

3. Design and Style

The staircase design should complement the architectural style and aesthetic of the project. The right design contributes to a positive first impression and can increase the value and market perception of a project.

4. Materials and Finishes

Choosing the right materials and finishes is crucial for durability and aesthetics. High-quality, low-maintenance materials, such as redwood pine or oak, ensures better longevity. You may add details like glass balustrades to create a contemporary feel and enhance the overall design.

5. Safety Features

Properly designed handrails and balustrades that are complaints with the UK building regulations regarding height and spacing help prevent accidents. Anti-slip treads or surfaces can also be incorporated to enhance traction and prevent slipping.

6. Lighting

Design features like riser lights and low-level guide lighting not only provide clear visibility but also add visual appeal to the staircase, highlighting architectural details and accentuating the materials used.

7. Sustainability

Collaborating with suppliers who adhere to sustainable practices, such as sourcing timber from responsibly managed forests certified by organisations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), demonstrates social responsibility and fosters long-term value.

8. Noise Control

Noise control measures, such as acoustic underlays or sound-deadening materials, can be integrated into the staircase construction to reduce creaking and minimise impact and airborne noises.

9. Maintenance and Cleaning

Ease of maintenance and longevity are important considerations. Select durable materials and finishes that are easy to maintain for better long-term quality and aesthetic appeal of the staircase. Applying protective coatings or sealants and ensuring sturdy assembly of components upholds safety and quality.

By carefully considering these nine essential factors, you can achieve a successful staircase specification that exceeds standards with enhanced aesthetics and safety.

The Anatomy Of Stairs

The anatomy of stairs consists of several components that play a vital role in creating a visually stunning and safe architectural feature. Understanding these elements helps in designing a bespoke staircase that meets project requirements. The key components include:

String: It supports the treads and risers, ensuring stability and strength. Strings can be closed or cut, depending on design preferences and structural needs.

Post: Positioned vertically, posts provide structural integrity and prevent excessive movement. They secure the handrail and balustrade system, ensuring stability and safety.

Handrail: The horizontal bar along the staircase offers support and guidance. Handrails come in various designs, allowing for customisation based on the desired aesthetic.

Balusters: These vertical pieces provide structural support and act as a protective barrier. Balusters come in different shapes, materials, and finishes, adding personality to the staircase.

Tread: The horizontal surface that you step on as you move across the stairs. Treads need to be durable and resistant to wear, with materials like oak and redwood pine commonly used.

Riser: Connects and closes the gap between treads, providing structural support. Risers can be open or closed, contributing to the overall aesthetic of the staircase.

Each component serves a purpose in creating a functional and visually appealing staircase. The handrail, balusters, treads, and risers all offer opportunities for customisation and adding unique design elements to the staircase.

Staircase Building Regulation Guidance

There are some basic rules and regulations to keep in mind when design a staircase that’s compliant. Here is an overview of the staircase building regulations:

Riser and Tread Dimensions

Consistency in riser and tread dimensions is vital to maintain balance and reduce the risk of falls. The minimum and maximum regulations for the riser and tread of each step should fall within the specified range.

Riser: minimum 150mm and maximum 220mm

Going: minimum 223mm and maximum 320mm

Open riser stairs should have a gap that prevents a 100mm sphere from passing through, with a 16mm lip of the step for comfortable use.

Regulation Pitch of the Stairs

The general guideline is to keep the slope of the stairs below 42 degrees. However, exceptions may be permitted by the building regulation inspector if necessary.


The sum of twice the rise and the going should be between 550mm and 700mm.

(Rise x 2 + Going = 550-700mm)

This approach ensures stairs feel familiar and comfortable to users.

Width Regulations

In a domestic setting, there is technically no minimum width requirement, but stairs should still be comfortable to use. However, handrails are necessary regardless of width.


Regulations stipulate a minimum headroom of 2 meters above all areas of the stairs, including landings, measured from the pitch line. Consistency should be maintained from the bottom to the top of the stairs.

It is also important to follow regulations regarding handrails, banister designs, and fire safety for timber staircases. By carefully adhering to these regulations, you can ensure a compliant staircase design that prioritises safety and functionality.

Fire Safety Regulations for Timber Staircases in the UK

In the UK, fire safety regulations for timber staircases are outlined in Part B of the Building Regulations. These regulations aim to protect lives by providing escape routes, restricting fire spread, and enabling fire brigade access. Requirements differ based on building height.

For three or four-storey homes with a top floor below 7.5 meters, a protected stairway must be present, constructed with fire-resistant materials that withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. Habitable rooms along the stairway require FD20-rated fire doors.

Homes with top floors above 7.5 meters need a second escape staircase or additional protection. Loft conversions in two-storey houses have similar regulations, including fire-resistant ceilings and interlinked smoke alarms.

To enhance staircase safety, there are additional steps you can take to improve its fire resistance. The British Standard BS 476-7 governs the surface spread of flame and classifies materials into four decreasing classes of performance. While most untreated timber falls into Class 3, surfaces in escape routes, such as staircases, must meet Class 0 for solid wood and Class 1 for plywood.

Have peace of mind by choosing fire retardant-treated timber, such as the ones we incorporate in all our staircases, for your staircases. The HR Prof we use is an eco-friendly fire retardant that meets Class 0 (Euro Class B) standards. This water-based product is absorbed into the cell structure of the timber without forming a surface finish, allowing the wood to breathe naturally.

Why Choosing The Right Wood For Your Staircase Matters

Choosing the right wood for stairs is crucial in planning and designing a timber staircase. Hardwood and softwood are the main options, with hardwood generally being denser and more durable.

Hardwood is favored for its strength, durability, and visual appeal, requiring minimal maintenance. Softwood, such as pine, is a more affordable alternative, allowing for painting, staining, or varnishing. Softwood is also a sustainable choice due to its quick and easy growth.

Consider the levels of footfall when selecting wood for stairs. Tough hardwood like oak or walnut is suitable for high-traffic areas. However, safety concerns arise for certain individuals, and adding carpet or a stair runner can provide better traction and a safer staircase.

Different types of wood offer unique characteristics:

Pine: Affordable, versatile, and can be painted or stained.

Oak: Durable with an open grain, available in European and American species.

Walnut: Rich brown colour, unique grain, and blends well with glass and metals.

Sapele: Grand appearance, close to mahogany in durability, suitable for traditional designs.

What Happens During a Staircase Site Survey?

During a staircase site survey, precise measurements and critical information are gathered to ensure a successful staircase design and installation. The process consists of several stages:

Project Planning

Before the site survey, project timelines are discussed and agreed upon. This ensures efficient workflow and accurate measurements at the optimal time, ensuring a seamless and stress-free process.

Site Visit

Once the project planning is complete, a project manager from our design team will visit the site to take all the staircase dimensions for compliance with building regulations. This includes considering

● the full stairwell opening,

● distances from door swings, and

● headroom distances between ceilings or two staircases above each other.

Design Process

The design team uses the gathered measurements to create a detailed layout of the staircase. Proven formulas are applied to optimise comfort, flexibility in design, proportions, and overall visual appeal. The final step involves creating a drawing with compliant dimensions and presenting it to clients for approval.

By conducting a thorough site survey and considering all necessary factors, the resulting staircase design will comply with regulations, offer optimal functionality, and seamlessly integrate with the project's style and requirements.

How Does Staircase Design Impact Stair Safety?

Staircase design plays a critical role in ensuring safety, as stair-related accidents are often overlooked but can have serious consequences. Several factors need to be considered for optimal stair safety:

Careful Stair Layout Design Planning

Proper dimensions and proportions are crucial to accommodate stride length and natural gait. Consulting a staircase expert and adhering to recommended dimensions ensures safe and effortless movement. Visibility and minimising obstructions are important, and adequate lighting is essential.

Stair Handrails UK Standards Compliance

Specific regulations and standards must be followed for secure and compliant staircase design. Handrails should be on both sides for stairs wider than a meter. The height, location, and continuous nature of handrails are defined, along with recommendations for materials.

Banisters for Stairs to Enhance Safety

Banisters, or balustrades, significantly enhance stair safety. Material sturdiness, durability, and grip comfort should be considered. Gaps in banisters must comply with regulations, and glass balustrades should break safely. Secure anchoring is vital.

Sturdy Material and Non-Slip Finishes

Choosing a durable material like Oak or Redwood is important for long-term safety. Non-slip finishes, such as coatings or textured paint, improve grip and reduce slip hazards. Compatibility between materials and finishes should be ensured.

By considering these factors, stair designs can prioritise safety and reduce the risk of accidents. It is recommended to consult with experts, request material samples, and visit showrooms before finalising design choices.

4 Cost-Effective Staircase Design Ideas For Housebuilders

Housebuilders and property developers face challenges in the current housing market, such as labour shortages and increased regulation. That makes maximising efficiency and profitability more crucial than ever. Here are four staircase design ideas that create visual appeal under a controlled budget,

Carpeted Staircase

Opt for cost-effective materials like MDF or plywood for the treads and risers, as they won't be visible after carpet installation. This allows for a luxurious appearance at a lower cost.

Painted Stairs

Instead of using premium timber like walnut, choose a more affordable option like redwood pine and paint it. A white base colour provides a clean foundation for customisation and works well with a carpet runner.

Softwood Stairs with Hardwood Balustrade

Combine cost-effective softwoods for the stairs with hardwoods for the balustrade. This approach offers a premium look while keeping costs lower. Pre-primed options can save time and money during installation.

Softwood Stairs with Glass Balustrade

When the budget allows, consider adding a glass balustrade to a standard softwood staircase. Glass finishes, such as balustrades and handrails, are on-trend and create a sense of support, visual space, and natural light flow.

These cost-effective staircase designs demonstrate that being creative with design can still be profitable. Consulting with a staircase specialist is recommended to maximise value and receive guidance on optimising specifications. Partnering with a company that offers advice and solutions within the budget can also help achieve a quality finish.

Popular Staircase Layout Trends 2023

Discover the most popular stair layout designs and gain instant inspiration for your next staircase project.

The Winder – A Classic Design

Winder stairs is a classic design that provides a unique flow. The wider threads can fit seamlessly into small areas, making them a popular choice for more compact spaces.

U-Shaped Stairs – A Modern Option

U-shaped stairs, with their parallel flights and a landing in between, offer an elegant and sophisticated design. They can create a sense of spaciousness while adding a touch of sophistication to any home.

T-Shaped Stairs – A Timeless Grand Addition

T-Shaped Stairs are a timeless and striking staircase design with a wide sweeping flight of stairs at the base leading to a generously-sized landing. The staircase then splits off into two flights of stairs forming the shape of a "T." These staircases can be traditional, crafted with high-quality timber, or modern with glass details. Their luxurious appearance adds elegance to large homes and can become the centrepiece of interior design projects.

The best type of staircase layout? There isn’t a universal answer.

Choosing the best staircase layout depends on your preference and architectural needs. Factors like available space play a role in determining the suitability of a design. Straight staircases are popular for modern homes with limited space while floating stairs offer a unique and stylish option. Ultimately, the ideal staircase combines practicality and aesthetics.

Open Riser Vs Closed Riser Staircases Which Is Best

When it comes to open vs closed stair risers, the choice really is a matter of personal preference and practical requirements. Depending on the setting and style of the home, some may benefit from the openness and modernity of open risers, while others may prefer the traditional and classic look of closed risers.

The decision lies in what fits the project’s specific requirements and enhances the overall aesthetic of the space.

Closed Riser Staircases

Closed riser stairs have a full timber riser between each tread, closing the gap between each step. They are common in most homes in the UK, and you’re likely to see them in a variety of settings.

● Easy installation and cost-effective

● Could be designed to provide additional storage space underneath

● Versatile for modern and classic style

Open Riser Staircases

Open riser offers unobstructed views through each step and creates a sense of openness and airiness that makes it a perfect fit for homes with an open floor plan. They are more likely to be found in a modern home or contemporary commercial setting.

● Creates A Spacious Feeling

● Offers Great Design Flexibility

● Allows natural light to flood through the space

A Common Question: Are Closed Riser Staircases Safer?

One question we often get asked is whether open riser staircases are safe. It's a valid concern for both self-builders or renovators who are designing their stairs - and even potential buyers at viewings of new build developments – especially those with young families.

However, stairs with open risers are just as safe as closed riser staircases when built within UK building regulations, which stipulate that the gap between the tread and rise should be no more than 100mm.

7 Questions You Should Ask Your Staircase Supplier

Selecting a trustworthy staircase supplier is a decision that can make or break your project's success. With so much at stake, it's important to ensure that you choose a supplier you can rely on.

Before you make the decision, there are 7 questions you need to ask the staircase supplier:

What types of staircase designs do you offer?

A reputable supplier should understand the significance of providing a wide variety of staircase designs to accommodate different architectural styles and aesthetics. Whether it’s practical and elegant softwood staircases, timeless mixed timber stairs, or bespoke high-quality hardwood stairs, you should be able to choose from a range of versatile solutions.

Furthermore, other optional design elements also demonstrate the supplier’s ability to create customised staircase that perfectly complements your space and aesthetic vision.

Can you provide references or examples of your previous work?

By examining their previous work like successful case studies, or even visiting their showroom, you can get a firsthand look at the design and building capabilities of the supplier. It gives you the opportunity to assess their versatility in handling various architectural styles and materials.

What materials do you use for staircase construction?

Check if they use high-quality and durable materials that align with your preferences and project requirements. Whether you favour hardwood, softwood, glass, or a combination of materials, having a clear understanding of the supplier's material options always helps empower you to make an informed decision.

Knowing if the materials are sustainably and responsibly sourced (FSC-certified ) also provides you insights into the supplier’s commitment to ethical practices and environmental consciousness.

Do you offer bespoke stairs and customisation services?

Make sure the supplier and manufacturer offer customised service such as Staircase Success that’s tailored to your project needs. This way, you can have confidence that they possess the necessary expertise and flexibility to meet your specific requirements.

What is the estimated timeline for the project?

A reliable supplier understands the significance of timely project completion and commits to flexible and on-time delivery to ensure that your project progresses smoothly and avoids unnecessary delays.

What is the cost breakdown for the staircase project?

Ask your staircase supplier for a cost breakdown to evaluate the affordability of the project and ensure that it aligns with your budget. Dependable staircase suppliers, such as Multi-Turn, are known for providing transparent cost breakdowns, enabling you to make informed financial decisions.

How do you handle after-sales service and support?

The importance of this question lies in ensuring that you receive ongoing assistance and support long after the delivery of the stairs. When you work with a family business like Multi-Turn, you are not just a number, but a valued client.

Asking these questions helps determine if the supplier is the right partner for your project, ensuring a successful outcome and a reliable and supportive relationship throughout the process.

4 Tips on How to Install Bespoke Staircases Efficiently

Installing bespoke staircases efficiently requires proper planning and attention to detail. There are 4 things you can do to streamline the staircase installation process:

Early Engagement

To avoid unnecessary pressure and mistakes, it's crucial to select the right staircase supplier during the early stages of project planning. Ensure all necessary measurements are complete, accounting for floor finishes, architraves, radiators, window sills, and other relevant dimensions.

Get Precise On-Site Measurements

Accurate on-site measurements are essential for a high-quality bespoke staircase. Work with a supplier who collaborates closely with you, your architects, and site teams, offering on-site surveys to ensure precise measurements from the start. This minimises the need for unexpected alterations and ensures a perfect fit.

Select Dry-Fitted Staircases

Dry fitting involves assembling the stairs without adhesives, allowing for a comprehensive assessment of fit and finish before final installation. This method ensures tight-fitting joints and reduces on-site work during installation, preventing delays and interruptions.

Flexible & Phased Delivery

Schedule the staircase installation towards the end, after other essential finishing touches like plastering, painting, and flooring are nearly complete. This helps avoid damage to the staircase during ongoing construction. Choose a supplier that offers flexible phased delivery, allowing adjustments to the installation date if other delays occur, ensuring full control over the project schedule.

By following these tips, you can enhance the efficiency of your bespoke staircase installation with minimised errors, and achieve a smoother process from planning to completion.


Navigating the intricacies of a staircase specification can be a complex task. With so many considerations, regulations, and design choices to contend with, even seasoned professionals can find themselves feeling perplexed.

By collaborating closely with staircase experts, you can rest assured that your staircase design will seamlessly align with your project's unique needs. Multi-Turn's Staircase Success focuses on ensuring staircases are a successful part of every project. Our experts take full responsibility for measuring and designing your staircase to ensure compliance with building regulations, save time and avoid remedial work costs, creating a seamless fit within your project's aesthetic and budget. Enjoy peace of mind knowing your reputation is protected as every staircase fits first time and all your projects stay on track.

Ready to take the next step? Book a consultation with one of our staircase specialists today and discover how we can help with your projects at hand!

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