Who Knew There Were So Many Kinds of Staircases?

Imagine sitting down with an architect to discuss your brand-new home. He and the builder offer tons of different layouts and architectural choices. The toughest part for you is having to decide on what you want. You find yourself especially puzzled by staircase choices. Who knew there were so many kinds of staircases?

You can run an internet search and quickly discover more than a dozen different types of staircases recognized by architects. Some are just variations of others, but the fact that you can find articles talking about 20 or more different staircase designs is quite telling. Fortunately, things do not have to be so complicated.

Below are descriptions of some of the most commonly utilized staircase designs. Some of them you will recognize, others might be new to you. They are all good.

The Straight Staircase

The most common staircase design in U.S. home construction is the straight staircase. It should be obvious why: straight staircases are the easiest and cheapest to install, and the most flexible in terms of complementing the rest of a home’s layout. Straight staircases are also the easiest to use – especially when assistive mobility devices are in play.

The L-Shaped Staircase

Staircases designed in an L shape are pretty common in colonials and Victorian-style houses. They are typically designed with a first flight achieving about two-thirds of the total rise with a second flight completing the rise to the floor above. Joining the two flights is a landing that creates a 90° angle.

The winder staircase is a variation on the L-shaped staircase with one distinct difference: there is no defined landing. Rather, one or more steps are built in at an angle to create a slightly curved portion that results in a continual flow between the first and second flights.

The Split Staircase

Although split staircases are not nearly as popular today as they once were, you can find them in luxury homes in many parts of the country. A split staircase starts with a central flight that completes between two-thirds and three-fourths of the total rise to the second floor. That first flight meets a large landing with two additional flights that take you to the second floor. The two flights are found on either side of the landing.

Balustrades featuring iron spindles can really give a split staircase that extra bit of pop. Paired with light maple or oak treads and risers can make even a smaller split staircase look larger and more majestic.

The Spiral Staircase

Speaking of wrought iron spindles, iron is a popular choice for spiral staircases. A spiral staircase is just as its name implies. It is built in a spiral shape that resembles a corkscrew. According to The Iron Spindle in Atlanta, wrought iron and steel spiral staircases are an excellent choice for those working with limited spaces.

The Floating Staircase

If split staircases and wrought iron spindles are too old-fashioned for you, a more modern alternative is the floating staircase. They are a variation on the straight staircase. What makes a floating staircase different is that there are no risers. Instead, treads are attached directly to the wall in such a way as to either hide or minimize support structures.

The floating staircase is intended to provide an open and free-form look. As such, there are no balusters, handrails, or newel posts to speak of.

There are certainly other kinds of staircases including curved, space-saving, circular, and ladder staircases. Did you know there were so many choices? Many people do not, at least not until it is time to make a choice.