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.

Stairs Guides
Browse through our curated Stairs Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Stairs. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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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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Egress Stairs
Dimensioned section drawing of vertical Egress stairs with people

Egress Stairs are exit access stairways that incorporate an area of rescue assistance within an enlarged floor-level landing. It provides a protected path that is continuous and unobstructed of egress travel to the exit discharge or public way. The means of egress consists of the exit access, the exit, and the exit discharge. Egress Stairs do not have to be enclosed. With occupant loads for 501 to 1,000 there need to be three exits or exit access doorways, and in spaces with occupant loads greater than 1,000, there need to be four exits or exit access doorways.

Egress Stairs are exit access stairways that incorporate an area of rescue assistance within an enlarged floor-level landing. It provides a protected path that is continuous and unobstructed travel to the exit discharge or public way. The means of egress consists of the exit access and discharge.

Egress Stairs
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Drawings include:
Egress Stair elevation (person)

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Circular Stairs
Illustration of a woman ascending a set of circular stairs in side profile

Circular Stairs are helical staircases that lead upstairs in a flowing arc. 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. Unlike Spiral Staircases, the Circular Staircase does not require a fixed central column, and it usually has two rolled stringers with treads attached between them.

Plan and elevation drawings of circular stairs with dimensions for the inner radius and minimum parameters
Circular Stairs are helical staircases that lead upstairs in a flowing arc. 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 a space.

Plan and elevation drawings of circular stairs with dimensions for the inner radius and minimum parameters
Circular Stairs
Height:
Width:
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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:
Circular Stairs side elevation, side (person), front, plan

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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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90° Winding Stairs
Elevation illustration of a woman ascending a set of 90° winding stairs

A 90° Winding Staircase makes a 90° turn up towards the next level. The staircase allows the user to turn a corner and change their direction. The primary benefit of a 90° Winding Staircase over a flat landing straight staircase is that the 90° Winding Staircase saves much more space. The winders are the steps that are narrower on one side than the other, and when three steps are used to turn the 90° corner, the middle step is called the kite winder, as it looks like a kite-shaped quadrilateral. 

Set of dimensioned drawings of 90° Winding Stairs with measurements for height and width
A 90° Winding Staircase makes a 90° turn up towards the next level. The staircase allows the user to turn a corner and change their direction. The primary benefit of a 90° Winding Staircase over a flat landing straight staircase is that the 90° Winding Staircase saves much more space.

Set of dimensioned drawings of 90° Winding Stairs with measurements for height and width
90° Winding Stairs
Height:
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
Area:

Winding Steps:
Narrow End (Min.): 6” | 15 cm
Tread Run (Min.): Must meet required tread dimensions 12” | 30.5 cm inward from narrow end

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:
90° Winding Stairs side elevation, side (person), front, plan

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