REPLACEMENT STAIRCASE – What you need to know!

replacement staircase floating stairs mezzanine
When considering a replacement staircase, there are a few considerations to take into account. In this article, we will cover staircase designs and the use of 3D staircase rendering, UK staircase building regulations and when using a staircase specialist is beneficial, including staircase installation and associated labour costs with links to further articles including how to fit a new staircase if you want to do it yourself.

Replacing your Staircase

Firstly if you are seeking assistance with your project we are here to help even if it’s to answer questions that help you in deciding what is best for you. It may be that you simply need a low-cost wooden staircase or even advice on staircase refurbishment and we can point you in the right direction. Call us now on 01306 314 914. Or browse our site for staircase design ideas using bespoke staircases such as floating stairs, spiral staircases or our range of internal metal staircases.

Here is a checklist of the questions that you will need to consider when planning to replace your staircase.

  1. Do you intend to change the shape of your staircase?
  2. What are you looking to achieve by replacing your staircase?
  3. What building regulations do you need to consider?
  4. What work is involved?
  5. What different materials are there and what are the advantages?
  6. Should you involve a staircase specialist?

This is the first and most important consideration when approaching your staircase project. Our customers are often seeking a staircase design that is less steep or they want to create a turn to provide more space or to improve access on or off the staircase. It is important to remember that there are often structural reasons why your existing staircase is the shape it is and it may not be possible to improve without changes to the building structure. Indeed, due to the age of many properties in the UK, many existing staircases may not conform to modern UK staircase regulations. Though, it is worth bearing in mind that if you are replacing your staircase with a like-for-like configuration ( perhaps just moving from an old wooden staircase to a modern metal staircase) then building control will allow the same conditions even though it also does not conform. This includes steepness, headroom and treads spacing issues.

What are you looking to achieve with your replacement staircase?

Utilitarian Staircase

You are perhaps simply trying to achieve a straightforward replacement staircase that is utilitarian in nature and just gets the job done. There are many companies that can supply a softwood or MDF staircase to do this. For example, you can get a simple straight flight timber staircase for around £200. Great value to fit a new staircase if the staircase cost is the deciding factor. Of course, consider staircase renovation as a cost-effective option to pep up your existing staircase.

Improve light - sightlines

You may wish to try to achieve more light into the area or to improve sightlines. For example, a modern metal stair with open risers and a glass balustrade can allow you to see through the staircase allowing views of a garden through a window or to other parts of the house. Also light from windows can reach between floors to help brighten gloomy stairwells or landing areas. This also has the effect of reducing the footprint of the stairs so that it feels less like they are dominating the room. Particularly useful in narrow hallways inside the front door.

create a 'wow' factor

Stairs are fundamental, universal and utilitarian features of buildings, yet they are usually the first item on view when entering. Done right a staircase will create a stunning first impression. This is of particular benefit if you are seeking to market your property. You can create visual impact by combining modern materials and sculpture-like shapes to create the ‘WOW’ factor.

Change shape - functionality

This decision certainly creates the most complexity and has implications with regard to planning. Changes to floors and walls might be necessary to achieve your goal. You will need to take Uk Staircase Building Regulations into consideration with the staircase design changes and to properly assess the impact that these changes will have on the rest of the property. Using a 3D staircase design service is useful in visualising both the staircase and the ramifications of the surrounding structure.

UK Staircase Building Regulations

As mentioned in other parts of the article, UK Staircase Building Regulations will need to be taken into consideration when replacing your staircase. as mentioned before a like for like replacement is straightforward. However, if you make any substantive changes to the layout then you will need to ensure that building control is notified and that your stairs are designed to conform to regulations. We are available to provide any advice you require.

Work involved with replacing your staircase

Once you have designed or even ordered your stairs there will be some building work needed to remove the existing staircase. Often with an existing wooden staircase, newel posts are ‘built-in’ to your building structure. Plasterboard or other cladding will need to be removed and the timber cut back or replaced. Many UK houses have timber floors at the top of the stair flight and the edges of the stairwell should be ‘double joisted’, particularly at the point where the staircase lands. Then you will need to make good the floor at the base of the staircase and the top and plaster the sidewalls and paint the surface ready for the new staircase.

Staircase Installation can be very straightforward if the planning has been thorough and the site preparation has taken into consideration the requirement of the stairs. Of particular importance are fixing points. The staircase will be fixed to both floors and will also require strong fixing points in supporting walls. In some situations a support post might also be required, this also will need to be fixed onto the solid structure. If sound fixing points are achieved then your staircase will be strong, without movement or ‘squeaks’

Materials choices for your staircase

The staircase itself

The materials that you choose will make a big difference to the cost of your new staircase. But some materials are much stronger and can therefore offer great benefit i.e. a lower profile to allow more light. 

For the side supports (stringers) Wooden staircases are generally the most cost-effective if used in straight sections (curved wooden staircases involve a lot of engineering). Where the material does not show then wood is often the best option. However where you need additional strength or more sculptural shapes or even when more light is required then metal or even glass is often more suitable.

In most cases, treads are wood, they have the necessary strength (usually Beech or Oak) but are comfortable to use and look great, particularly when used in combination with other materials like stainless steel or glass. Glass treads are also a popular choice and can look amazing in certain circumstances.

staircase balustrade and landing balustrade

Traditionally staircases typically use wooden spindles, wooden newel posts and wooden handrails. If the rest of the staircase is wood then this is still a cost-effective choice. (You could however remove the spindles and use glass panels in their place as a way to spruce up a wooden staircase). With modern staircases glass panels are the most popular choice. Glass is toughened and laminated to ensure safety and is strong and hardwearing. Balustrade can be without a handrail or a handrail in wood or stainless steel is a good solution

Should you involve a staircase specialist?

Well, I suppose we would say yes because we are the staircase specialists. However, there are some benefits to working with experts and using a bespoke staircase. We would project manage the whole process from site survey to installation. We would ensure that your staircase conforms to the relevant building regulations and we would help you visualise your project with our 3D staircase design service. Staircase specialists are of particular benefit if there are any complex changes in the use and shape of your replacement staircase. 

If you would like Paradigm Stairs to be involved in replacing your staircase then take some photos of the top (landing area) and bottom of your staircase. Give us also the finished floor to floor height. and the number of steps on your existing staircase. If there is a particular staircase design on our site from our list of modern staircase projects that you like, let us know. Lastly, if you seek to change the shape then tell us this too ie. straight flight, quarter turn or half turn etc.


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