Stairs | Stairways

Stairs, stairways, staircases, or stairwells, are building components that provide users with a means of vertical movement with the distribution of separate and individual vertical steps. In a building setting, a flight of stairs refers to a complete series of steps that connects between two distinct floors. Either as conscious design decisions or as reactions to existing spatial conditions, stairs can take on a variety of organizational types from straight runs to spiral, L-shaped, U-shaped, or circular forms. Each stair step is typically comprised of a horizontal tread and a vertical riser.

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Split Stairs | Bifurcated Stairs
Side elevation illustration of an elderly man climbing a set of Split | Bifurcated Stairs

Split Stairs, also known as Bifurcated Stairs, have one sweeping set of wider steps that split off into two smaller flights going in opposite directions; these ultimately reach the same horizontal level. The two more narrow flights start at the mid landing, and the railing of the stairs starts at the base of the wide stairs and continuous up to the top of the narrower flights. These stairs are suitable for the interior of public modern buildings at their entrance hall to create a very grand appearance.

Collection of plan and elevation drawings of Split | Bifurcated Stairs measuring height and width
Split Stairs, also known as Bifurcated Stairs, have one sweeping set of wider steps that split off into two smaller flights going in opposite directions; these ultimately reach the same horizontal level. The two more narrow flights start at the mid landing, and the railing continues from the base.

Collection of plan and elevation drawings of Split | Bifurcated Stairs measuring height and width
Split Stairs | Bifurcated Stairs
Height:
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
Area:

Width (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Rise (Max.): 7” | 18 cm
Run (Min.): 11” | 28 cm
Landing (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Handrail Height: 34”-38” | 86.5-96.5 cm

Drawings include:
Split | Bifurcated Stairs side elevation, side (person), front, plan

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Quarter Landing | U-Shaped Stairs
Elevation illustration of a man climbing a set of Quarter Landing | U-Shaped Stairs

Quarter Landing Stairs, also called U-Shaped Stairs, are two parallel flights of straight stairs that are joined by a landing that creates a 180° turn in the middle of the walk line. They are similar to L-shape stairs, as both can be located in a corner. Some advantages include their ease to fit into an architectural plan, and the landing can offer a resting point partway up the stairs. They are visually more appealing than straight staircases, and they take up less linear floor space. However, Quarter Landing Stairs can be more difficult to build than simpler stair types.

Set of plan and elevation drawings of Quarter Landing | U-Shaped Stairs with dimensions
Quarter Landing Stairs, also called U-Shaped Stairs, are two parallel flights of straight stairs that are joined by a landing that creates a 180° turn in the middle of the walk line. They are similar to L-shape stairs, as both can be located in a corner.

Set of plan and elevation drawings of Quarter Landing | U-Shaped Stairs with dimensions
Quarter Landing | U-Shaped Stairs
Height:
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
Area:

Width (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Rise (Max.): 7” | 18 cm
Run (Min.): 11” | 28 cm
Landing (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Handrail Height: 34”-38” | 86.5-96.5 cm

Drawings include:
Quarter Landing | U-Shaped Stairs side elevation, side (person), front, plan

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Spiral Staircase (Residential)
Dimensioned drawing of Spiral Staircase with measurements for width, height, and stair risers

Spiral Stairs follow a helical arc, and the treads radiate around a central pole. They are often found in industrial contexts, and the reduced tread width allows for a very compact design. However, this can be a disadvantage as it can be very steep. A Spiral Staircase typically has a handrail on only the outer side; the inner side just has the central pole. As the central pole provides the structural support for the stairs, it does not need many additional support structures, which makes installation easier than other types of stairs.

Spiral Stairs follow a helical arc, and the treads radiate around a central pole. They are often found in industrial contexts, and the reduced tread width allows for a very compact design. However, this can be a disadvantage as it can be very steep. A Spiral Staircase typically has a handrail.

Spiral Staircase (Residential)
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Drawings include:
Spiral Stair elevation (person)

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Curved Stairs | Arched Stairs
Elevation illustration of a man climbing a flight of Curved or arched stairs

Curved Stairs, also referred to as Arched Stairs, use a wider radius than a Spiral Staircase to wind upwards to a second floor or landing. They can be varied in materials from wood to glass and wrought iron to add a traditional or modern feel. And they are great for commercial properties like retail stores, showrooms, and other public spaces, but they also add a glamorous effect in an office or residential location. It is often used as a focal point in the center of an interior space, as it draws in visitors to explore the next level.

Set of plan and elevation drawings of Curved | Arched stairs with dimensions
Curved Stairs, also referred to as Arched Stairs, use a wider radius than a Spiral Staircase to wind upwards to a second floor or landing. They can be varied in materials from wood to glass and wrought iron to add a traditional or modern feel. And they are great for commercial properties.

Set of plan and elevation drawings of Curved | Arched stairs with dimensions
Curved Stairs | Arched Stairs
Height:
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
Area:

Inner Radius: At least 2x the width of the stair
Narrow End (Min.): 10” | 25.5 cm

Width (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Rise (Max.): 7” | 18 cm
Run (Min.): 11” | 28 cm
Landing (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Handrail Height: 34”-38” | 86.5-96.5 cm

Drawings include:
Curved (Arched) Stairs side elevation, side (person), front, plan

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Half-Turn | Switchback | U-Shaped Stairs
Side elevation illustration of a woman climbing a Half-Turn | Switchback | U-Shaped Staircase

Half-Turn Stairs have two straight flights with two 90° turns. These types of stairs are advantageous for saving space at the base where the angle is incorporated. The center of the staircase can be left open to allow for several different configurations that depend on the space, and the turns can also be curved. This can allow for a more comfortable and safer staircase, as it reduces the tapering of the angled treads. There are three types of Half-Turn Stairs- Dog-legged Stairs, Open Newel Half-Turn Stars, and Geometrical Half-Turn Stairs.

Dimensioned set of plan and elevation drawings of a Half-Turn | Switchback | U-Shaped Stair
Half-Turn Stairs have two straight flights with two 90° turns. These types of stairs are advantageous for saving space at the base where the angle is incorporated. The center of the staircase can be left open to allow for several different configurations that depend on the space.

Dimensioned set of plan and elevation drawings of a Half-Turn | Switchback | U-Shaped Stair
Half-Turn | Switchback | U-Shaped Stairs
Height:
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
Area:

Width (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Rise (Max.): 7” | 18 cm
Run (Min.): 11” | 28 cm
Landing (Min.): 36” | 91.4 cm
Handrail Height: 34”-38” | 86.5-96.5 cm

Drawings include:
Half-Turn | Switchback | U-Shaped Stairs side elevation, side (person), front, plan

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