Maximizing space with steeper stairs: safety and design tips

Purchasing a home with limited space often requires innovative solutions. One such solution is opting for steeper stairs, which can significantly conserve space. But how do you ensure that these stairs are not too steep, ensuring safety while ascending or descending? Here’s a guide to help you strike the right balance.

Jonathan Mueller

Understanding the Ideal Slope: The 40° Rule

A staircase with a slope not exceeding 40° is generally considered safe and comfortable for regular use. Anything steeper than this can make the stairs uncomfortable and potentially hazardous. The only exception is attic stairs, which can afford to be steeper due to their less frequent use.

Calculating a Comfortable Slope

The comfort of a staircase is determined by the height and depth (or tread) of its steps. For a natural and easy step, the tread should be between 18 and 19 cm, and the rise between 20 and 25 cm. To ensure a comfortable staircase, adhere to this formula: the sum of two risers and one tread should fall between 57 and 63 cm.

Staircase Types and Their Space Implications

Beyond the slope, the style of the staircase also plays a pivotal role in space utilization. While straight staircases tend to occupy more space, spiral or curved ones can be more space-efficient. While aesthetics play a role in this choice, it’s essential to consider practicality.

Benefits of Steeper Stairs

In older homes, steep stairs are a common feature, offering a classic look while maximizing available space. If you’re considering adding an additional floor to your home, steeper stairs can be a practical solution when space is at a premium.

Potential Drawbacks of Steep Stairs

While steep stairs can be a boon for space-saving, they come with their set of challenges:

1. Climbing Concerns: Steeper stairs can be challenging to ascend, especially for the elderly or young children.
2. Safety Precautions: Given the steeper incline, it’s wise to add anti-slip measures to prevent accidents.
3. Handrails for Support: While they might not always align with your aesthetic preferences, handrails are crucial for safety. Without them, you might find yourself regretting the omission later.
4. Spiral vs. Straight: It’s worth noting that spiral staircases, despite their steepness, tend to be safer than straight ones due to their curvature.

Conclusion: Balancing Space and Safety

While steeper stairs can be an excellent solution for homes with limited space, safety should never be compromised. By understanding the ideal slope, considering the type of staircase, and implementing necessary safety measures, homeowners can enjoy the benefits of space-saving stairs without the risks. Always remember, the design should cater to the home’s inhabitants, ensuring comfort, safety, and style in equal measure.