A sense of space and a style statement

Simple as a supportive structure, steel stairs appear minimalist and are completely recyclable. 

The steep steps to the attic floor could be among the childhood memories of many people who lived in houses with large tiled roofed houses. Completely made of wooden planks with an angular base and sides, the steps are found fixed between the side planks. To ensure this staircase is in single piece finally, there would be considerable height between the steps and a rope hanging by the side to support oneself. Curiously, there would be no wooden member in the vertical side. No wonder, every child would fantasise climbing these forbidden steps someday!

Today, many such old wooden stairs are found in the antique market, salvaged from demolished heritage homes. The design standards for the width of steps and height of riser does not permit us to build such stairs anymore, but there are many design ideas we can get from them towards reduced resource consumption, minimised space needs and a sense of lightness in construction. Being recyclable, these stairs could get maximum votes for being eco-friendly constructions.

Minimal supports needed

Even if made up of many parts joined together, staircases need to be a monolith member, connecting the two floors. To that end, steel sections are best suited today, being strong, thin, weld-able and available in long lengths. They can be erected between the floors with minimal supports. Steel frameworks can be fabricated in a variety of shapes – straight, free flow, linear, curvilinear or turning at non-perpendicular angles. Simple as a supportive structure, steel stairs appear minimalist and are completely recyclable. The visible quantity of materials, of course, appears far lesser than any concrete staircase.

The step member or tread gets fixed to this frame, with no riser member. Hence people may have apprehensions that open risers may effect tripping while climbing, which is not true. When we climb, the leg is lifted up by the height of riser and moved forward by the width of step in such a synchronised manner that the leg does not get trapped between the steps. The elimination of the riser member creates a void in between the staircase, lending a sense of space through the steps, making the smaller rooms look more spacious. The standard concrete steps being a heavy mass, block our view up to the wall edge, while the open riser staircases let the wall be seen through the steps, thus resulting in a sense of light-weight construction and extended space.


Among the limitations of open riser steel staircase, a minor one is about finding a good fabricator who can assemble all the parts to perfection at site. Achieving the levels, proper corners, fully welded joints and rounded edges require skill and attention. Some builders fear that the steel frame may get spoiled during the construction, hence prefer a temporary staircase until the finishing stage. However, once we study the advantages and comforts of such stairs, the benefits outweigh such minor limitations.

Posted on May 5, 2012, in designs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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