Staircases are pretty much all made to standard dimensions, the factors related to the cost to replace a staircase are mostly to do with style and material. We have already talked a bit about the many different styles of staircase, all with different names, some of which you may have heard before, while others need a bit of research. The following table shows the cost of a new staircase:
|Staircase Design||Softwood Cost
|Single winder Staircase||£500||£1,400|
|Double winder Staircase||£650||£1,700|
|Quarter landing Staircase||£450||£1,300|
|Half landing Staircase||£500||£1,600|
|Triple winder Staircase||£800||£1.900|
|Z shape Staircase||£700||£2,000|
|Straight mid landing Staircase||£500||£1,700|
|Double landing Staircase||£500||£1,600|
The prices shown are indicative and give you an idea of the difference in price. Remember that staircase prices will vary depending on style and other factors as follows.
- VAT (Value Added Tax) – will be added onto all purchases.
- This will vary depending on who supplies the staircase.
- Standard extras – Square newel posts, spindles and flat newel caps will come as standard.
- Ornamental extras – Turned newel posts, ornamental spindles and ball newel caps. Add an extra 10% onto the price.
- A carpenter will normally take a few days to install a staircase. Two people are usually needed. Depending on the complexity of the job, charges for building stairs can be anywhere upwards from £200 minimum.
- Complete job – For professionals to measure, building, installing new stairs plus disposal of old stairs will cost anywhere from £2,000 to £4,000.
- The cost will vary depending on what percentage of the job is to be DIY. By measuring and ordering the staircase yourself and asking a professional to install will save about £500. Alternatively, the job can be done as a DIY project by someone with some good DIY carpentry skills, able to lift heavy weights, and a lot of patience. Take it slowly and read up about the method beforehand.
- Bespoke stairs – You can buy many types of staircase in kit form from your local building supply merchants or from specialist suppliers. If you need something a bit more unusual then you can have it made in a joinery shop. Many hardwood staircases are this type. Having a bespoke staircase made will probably take up to about four weeks but the joiner will need proper manufacturing drawings, drawn up by an architect. The price of a bespoke staircase design can start at about £3,000 but if the design is really complex, the price can reach up to £30,000 or beyond.
A staircase isn’t something you go out and buy every week. In fact, you may never buy one in your lifetime, many people don’t. But when you need a new staircase you will want one that is strong enough to support its own weight and the weight of people walking up and down every day and many times a day. A staircase is also a significant feature in a house and is often the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, so you want it to look both attractive and inviting.
Probably, the only times when you will choose a replacement staircase are when you intend self-building your house or if you are renovating an existing house. It is at times like those that you realise what a lot of different styles and designs there are available to buy. Not only that but do you want a staircase kit or a flight of ready made stairs? There are so many choices and questions to be answered at a time when you probably have plenty of other more important things on your mind.
Types of Stairs Available
When you are trying to decide what type of staircase you want to put in your house, you start to look around at other stairs already built and try to experience them in their place of use. At first, you will think there are many different types but if you look carefully you will notice that there are only a few basic styles or combinations of styles linked together with landings (small platforms used to link flights) or winders (wedge-shaped treads used to change the direction of the flight). These types include:
- Straight stairs – Single straight flight with no turns. These can be a single flight or multiple straight flights joined with landings.
- Straight stairs with mid landings – Two or more flights joined by landings with no change in direction.
- Quarter turn stairs – These are straight stairs which change direction by 90 degrees using winders or landings. These are also called Quarter Landing or Single Winder stairs depending on what is used to make the turn.
- Half turn stairs – These staircases are formed by using straight flights linked together with landings or winders to turn 180 degrees. These are also called Half Landings or Double Winders depending on what is used to make the turn. These can be of two types ‘dog-legged’ where there is no gap between the two flights and ‘open newel’ where there is a stairwell between the flights.
- Three quarter turn stairs – The direction is changed three times between bottom and top with the upper flight crossing the bottom flight. These are also called Triple Winder or Double Landing depending on what is used to make the turn.
- Circular stairs –When viewed from above these seem to follow a circle with a single radius. They have a central newel post and can be constructed from wood, reinforced concrete, stone or cast iron.
- Spiral stairs – Similar to circular stairs except that it has a small radius of curvature.
- Curved stairs – When viewed from above these stairs seem to follow a curve shaped like an ellipse.
Materials & Styles
You are now well on the way to deciding on your new staircase, but so far we haven’t talked about the material from which the stairs will be made. By far the most popular staircase material is ordinary softwood. To be honest, most people will cover the wood stair treads and risers with a good carpet to cut down on noise, dust and make the house feel a bit warmer so as the majority of the staircase is being covered up there is no real need to have an expensive looking staircase. If however, your brain is full of different staircase ideas, you can really make them out of any building material you would like to choose. As long as they are made safely, look good and comply with the building regulations, then you can take your pick. The following materials will give you an idea as to the types you can choose from.
- Softwood. This is what people commonly refer to as ‘pine’. It is the cheapest real wood and will look good when painted to the colour of your choice or when varnished to bring out the natural beauty of the grain.
- Manufactured board. This is the cheapest material for a staircase. The individual components are made from board such as plywood and MDF. This is the type of staircase that will be installed into modern housing estates. They are usually painted and covered in carpet so they are indistinguishable from stairs made from real wood. Manufactured boards have a great advantage over real timber because they have no grain and will not split along the grain and will not warp or twist.
- Hardwood. This is the type that is made from timber from broad-leafed deciduous trees. They are slow growing trees so have a very hard, close-grained wood that will stand up to a lot of wear and tear. They also have the advantage of having beautifully patterned grain and attractive colour ranges. This type is not usually covered up with paint and carpet but is varnished to enhance the timber’s beauty.
- Glass. Specially hardened glass is used usually along with stainless steel to create a staircase with a contemporary feel. This set of stairs is all about the material and what it looks like so will not be covered with carpet.
- Concrete. Concrete stairs are not very often installed into domestic properties. You will normally find them in large shops and public buildings. One of the main advantages of concrete stairs is that they can have very wide steps and can support many people at a time. These are normally covered in carpet or some kind of vinyl floor covering.
- Stone. Similar applications to concrete except that they are normally used in better quality establishments or older buildings. Any type of building stone can be used as long as it can be polished to a good finish.
- Cast iron. This is another favourite material for building stairs. Because of its strength and its ability to support itself, it is often used for spiral or circular staircases. Cast iron has a quirkiness that is very attractive to some people and will look good in a variety of locations both inside and out. It is often used as an emergency outside exit stairway because of its ability to withstand fire and rot.
Choosing the type of material for your stairs is all about deciding on the effect you want to achieve. Traditional staircases made from timber always look elegant especially if they are made from hardwood, while glass and metal give a contemporary feel to the house. Remember when you choose the staircase material to think about the overall feel of the house and plan accordingly.
Staircase Building Regulations
Fortunately, new stairs in domestic properties must comply with specific regulations as set out in the UK Building Regulations. I say fortunately because every time we use a flight of stairs, we put our health, wellbeing and even our life in the hands of the designer, manufacturer and installer of the stairs. If it wasn’t for the regulations, there would be all kinds of weird and wonderful ways to get from one level in the house to another. In fact, if you have ever been in a house older than 100 years (without it being renovated) you will know what I am talking about.
When the staircase has been installed it will need to be inspected by the Building Control Officer who will sign it off if everything complies with the regulations. There will, of course, be a charge for this. At the time of writing, this was around £200, but you should check the price when you are informing the office of your intentions to fit some stairs. It is always a good idea to check with the office because you may or may not have to comply depending on whether you are just repairing or replacing parts of the stairs rather than replacing them entirely. The inspection can be an awkward nuisance but in order for a staircase to be safe, it must be built to certain measurements so that anyone can walk up and down stairs almost without thinking.
The regulations govern the size of the tread and the distance between each tread; the minimum and maximum width of each tread; the maximum distance between the balustrades; minimum headroom; the pitch of the stairs (angle) and the maximum length of the staircase without having a landing. In fact, just about every aspect of a staircase is severely regulated to make sure that they are designed, constructed, installed and used safely. Luckily for us, we don’t need to know all that stuff. Only carpenters, joiners and architects need to know the details. All we need to concentrate on is whether it looks good and whether it is a pleasure to use.
When choosing the design and materials of your staircase, whatever you choose always comes down to your available budget and your own personal preference. Whatever style or material you choose, make sure it complies with the Building Regulations otherwise you run the risk of causing damage to property and more importantly to people. Always contact your local authority’s planning department before starting any work. They will give free advice and the necessary forms you need.