Select the right materials
Materials for stairs have to meet multiple demands: be safe, uncluttered, non-slippery, durable, and easy to maintain.
Among the factors critical to good architectural design, appropriateness of materials could be rated as very important. How we design needs to be complimented by what we build with. In a steel staircase, the decision on support member is pre-determined, but the step or tread member could be a studied decision, based on the location of stairs and type of users. The only pre-condition appears to be that the step should be in a single piece.
Wood is not only the most traditional staircase material but also the most popular one found in different countries. Wooden steps are non-slippery, can be given desired degree of smoothness and ensure a feel good factor. Bolts and nuts make up good fixing detail, while nailing also can be employed in select places.
If a building has marble flooring, a matching look can be achieved by using marble for the steps as well. They appear rich and classy! The slabs can be placed within the angle frame, provided with rounded off or double-layered edges with rough finish at the nosing to reduce the danger of slippage. Marble tends to appear fresh where we keep walking upon, leaving the corners and sides with less usage with a brown patch over the years.
Natural stones like granite when locally available can make a style statement, matching with the floor or contrasting with it. It has a good colour blending with steel and comes in a single piece like wood or marble. Highly polished granite can be slippery, hence should be avoided. Alternate single piece stone slabs of kota, tandoor and such others can also be considered, if additional frame support can be provided to counter their tendency of cracking.
It’s glass too
Nowadays glass has joined the list of optional materials, possibly more for shops and galleries, where certain fancy looks stand to advantage. Elegant and long lasting, thick plate glass is a novel idea, strikingly different to all the traditional materials.
Railing materials have lesser options, with wood and steel being the two major choices. The top handrail has to be in good quality wood, for the comfort of hands and good grips. Balusters, as the support members are technically called, can also be in cast iron, but should be designed with the desired gap to make them child safe.
It is only in the lower part that the members need be closer, leaving a choice of design otherwise. Once the design of vertical support is sorted out, additional members like wood, glass or thin steel sections can be employed to provide good aesthetic appearance.
Unlike for normal flooring, where many materials fit, appropriate materials for stairs are limited. They need to meet multiple demands: be safe, uncluttered, non-slippery, durable, and easy to maintain.