Installing AStaircase - What You Need to Know

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Nothing can ruin a house or home extension design like overlooking the staircase in your original plan. Staircases take up valuable space and you can't compromise by making stairs too narrow or steep. While you should leave the final design and construction to professional staircase builders , here's what you need to know in the initial design stages.

Staircase Basics

Staircases need to be safe. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standard AS 1657-1992 outline the basic construction of a safe staircase:

Risers (vertical height between steps) and goings (horizontal steps) must be of a uniform height within a tolerance of +/- 5mm. Risers must be a minimum of 115mm in height and a maximum of 190mm. Goings must be at least 240mm and not more than 355mm deep. Measured from the insides of the handrails, a staircase must be at least 600mm wide. The angle of pitch (slope) of a staircase must be at least 25.5 degrees and not more than 45 degrees.

The regulations for spiral staircases are a little different, but the theory is the same. A staircase must be safe for use. Uniform heights between stair treads helps prevent tripping, a reasonable width allows free passage and treads must be deep enough to firmly stand on.

BCA regulations also state that a staircase can have no more than 18 risers before a landing or rest area of at least 750mm square is installed.

Staircase Design

Staircase designers take all these things into consideration and still manage to design elegant staircases even in challenging spaces.

In most cases, they choose one of three basic designs:

Straight L-Shaped U-Shaped

When space is tight or a client wants something out of the norm, they may design a spiral staircase.


No staircase is complete without balustrades. Balustrades provide protection from falling, but also add the finishing touch to a staircase. The material used must be sturdy enough to withstand lateral pressure, but there is still plenty of leeway for creative balustrade designs that match or complement a staircase. One balustrade might be made of glass or have glass panels between aluminium balusters and be perfect for a modern house design. Another might be highly ornamental and fit into a more traditionally designed home.

For hundreds of inspiring ideas, have a look at our Stair Design Ideas pages. You'll see that no matter how much or little space you have to work with, you can install a staircase that looks great, is safe to use and enhances the appearance of your home."

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