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, it must comply with all the legal requirements. Furthermore, a staircase is also a significant feature in a house and is often the first thing you see when you enter a house. So, you want one to look both attractive and inviting.
Probably, the only times you’ll choose a replacement staircase are when you’re self-building new or renovating an existing house. It’s then that you realise how many different styles and designs you can choose from.
But, how much will these cost?
The cost of a new staircase for a typical 3 bedroom house in the UK is somewhere between £2,000 and £4,000 depending on the style and finish.
New Staircase Cost Calculation
Staircases are pretty much all made to standard dimensions. So, the cost to replace a staircase will vary mostly with style, material and labour charges. We’ll talk about style differences in the next section. For now, let’s look at the items common to most staircases, but compare the materials. They’ll give you an idea of how much a new staircase costs.
|Straight mid landing||£500||£1,700|
The prices show the difference between hardwood and softwood.
Remember, staircase prices also vary depending on other factors.
Retailers rarely add Value Added Tax onto building material purchases. Always assume the price excludes VAT unless you’re told otherwise.
This will vary depending on who supplies the staircase. Often the installer includes delivery in the price, but confirm this anyway.
The cost of a simple new bannister and spindles, square-section newel posts, and flat newel caps will come as part of the basic price.
Turned newel posts, ornamental spindles and ball newel caps add an extra 10% onto the price. Carved sections will cost even more.
A carpenter normally takes a day or so to install a simple staircase. Usually, it’ll take two people. Depending on the complexity of the job, charges for building stairs start from £200. Ornamental extras cost more.
Stair carpenters measure, build a kit in a workshop and finally assemble the new stairs on-site. Including the disposal of old stairs, this will cost anywhere from £2,000 to £4,000.
The cost will vary depending on what percentage of the job you’re doing yourself. By measuring and ordering the staircase yourself from a manufacturer you’ll usually save about £500. Alternatively, if you have good DIY carpentry skills, can lift heavy weights, and have a lot of patience, you could do the entire job as a DIY project. Take it slowly and read up about the methods and regulations beforehand.
You can buy many types of staircase in kit form from your local building supply merchants or specialist suppliers. If you need something a bit more unusual, A joiner will make it in a workshop. In fact, a bespoke staircase will take about four weeks to build from scratch. But he’ll need proper manufacturing drawings because it needs exact measurements of the intended installation space. The price of a bespoke staircase design starts at about £3,000. But, if it’s a complex design, the price can reach up to £30,000 or beyond.
Types of Stairs
At first, when you’re trying to choose the type of staircase for your house, you realise how many different styles exist. But, if you look carefully you’ll notice how just a few basic components linked together produce all these variations. The components include:
- Straight stairs. Single straight flight with no turns. You use either 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 you use to make the turn.
- Half turn stairs. These staircases comprise straight flights linked together with landings or winders to turn 180 degrees. These are also called Half Landings or Double Winders and may be of two types. ‘Dog-legged’ where there’s no gap between the two flights and ‘open newel’ where there’s a stairwell between the flights.
- Three quarter turn stairs. The direction changes three times between bottom and top with the upper flight crossing the bottom flight. They’re also called Triple Winder or Double Landing depending on what makes 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 are made 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.
Finishes and Styles
You’re now well on the way to choosing your new staircase. However, so far we haven’t talked about the material from which you’ll construct the stairs.
By far, ordinary softwood is the most popular staircase material. 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 carpet covers most of the staircase, why bother with an expensive–looking finish? If you’ve lots of different staircase ideas, you can make them out of any building material you choose. As long as they’re safe, look good and comply with the Building Regulations, you can take your pick. Look at the list of possible materials to choose from.
Most people commonly refer to this as ‘pine’. It’s the cheapest real wood and looks good when painted your favourite colour or varnished to enhance the natural beauty of the grain.
This is the cheapest material for a staircase. Typically, manufacturers use plywood and MDF board. Modern housing estates use this type of staircase. They’re usually painted and covered in carpet so are indistinguishable from stairs made from real wood. Manufactured boards have no grain, so will not split, warp or twist.
This wood comes from broad-leafed deciduous trees. They grow slowly and have a very hard, close-grained structure, that will stand up to a lot of wear and tear. They also have beautifully patterned grain and attractive colour ranges. You don’t usually cover this wood with paint and carpet, but use varnish to enhance the timber’s beauty.
You can use specially hardened glass along with stainless steel to create a contemporary look. This style enhances the materials and what they look like so don’t cover it with carpet.
Concrete stairs aren’t often installed into domestic properties. You’ll normally find them in large shops, apartment complexes and public buildings. This is a strong material, can have very wide steps and can support many people at a time. Normally, cover these in carpet or some kind of vinyl floor covering.
Similar applications to concrete except, they’re normally used in better quality establishments or older buildings. You can use any type of hard building stone that will accept polish.
This is another favourite material for building stairs. Because it’s strong and supports itself, it’s often used for spiral or circular staircases. Cast iron has an attractive quirkiness and looks good in a variety of interior and exterior locations. It’s often used as an emergency outside exit stairway because it withstands fire and rot.
Choose the character
Decide on the effect you want your staircase to achieve and choose the appropriate material. Traditional staircases made from timber always look elegant, especially if they’re made from hardwood. On the other hand, glass and shiny metal give a contemporary feel to the house. Remember when you choose the staircase material to think about the overall character of the house and plan accordingly.
Staircase Fitting 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 staircase, we put our health, and even our lives in the hands of its designer, manufacturer and installer. If we didn’t have the regulations, we’d have all kinds of weird and wonderful ways to get from one level in the house to another. In fact, if you’ve ever been in a house built before 1900 (without a staircase renovation) you’ll know what I am talking about.
After installation, the Building Control Officer must inspect the staircase. He will then 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 it’s always a good idea to check with the office. You may or may not have to comply with the regulations depending on whether you’re just repairing and replacing parts rather than replacing the entire staircase. The inspections exist to ensure manufacturers and installers build stairs safely and to specific dimensions. People can then walk up and down stairs almost without thinking.
The regulations govern:
- Tread size and the distance between each one.
- The minimum and the maximum width of each tread.
- The maximum distance between the balustrades.
- Minimum headroom.
- Pitch of the stairs (angle).
- The maximum length of the staircase without having a landing.
In fact, the Building Regulations severely regulate just about every aspect of a staircase to make sure they’re designed, constructed, installed and used safely.
Fortunately, we don’t need to know all that stuff. Only carpenters, joiners and architects need the details. We only need to concentrate on whether the stairs look good and whether it’s a pleasure to use.
New Staircase Cost FAQ
How much does a glass staircase cost?
Don’t laugh! If designed properly, these can look stunning. However, the price will be exorbitant for most people. You might choose only balustrades, or treads or even the entire staircase. And of course, the other factors like style and size also come into play. If however, you decide on an all–glass staircase, the cost to construct and install will cost at least £10,000.
Can you make a staircase less steep?
Unfortunately, you can’t alter an existing staircase to make it less steep. The original installer made the angle of the stairs to suit the existing height between floors. You can only change the staircase’s pitch (angle) by altering the height or length. If you have a fixed height between floors, it means you can only change the horizontal length. Ask a stair designer or architect to explain your options depending on your usable room.
How much weight can a staircase hold?
The question here isn’t ‘how much weight’ can it hold? It’s ‘what imposed load can it take? These are two different questions. A person weighing 127Kg (20 stones or 280 pounds) can easily stand motionless on most things. But, calculating the load takes into account whether he jumps up and down, jumps from the next floor above and whether he lands on his feet or his back.
During testing, all domestic staircases must support imposed loads of 1.5kN/m2.
What is the best flooring for stairs?
Probably, the most popular floor covering for stair treads must be carpet. It feels comfortable underfoot, is warm, reduces noise and withstands heavy foot traffic. However, laminate and solid wood flooring are also popular. Although, not as practical as carpet, these look simple and elegant.
Are stairs safer with carpet?
Surprisingly, carpeted stairs seem to be more slippery than uncarpeted stairs. Having said that, if you slip on a carpeted staircase, the bumpy ride down will be less painful than if there is no soft floor covering.
Find staircase suppliers and fitters
Whatever design and materials you choose, they always come down to your available budget and personal preference. Whichever type you choose, ensure it complies with the Building Regulations or you risk causing damage to property and more importantly to people. Always contact your local authority’s Building Control Office before starting any work. They will give advice and help with the necessary legal information.
If you prefer to install a staircase using someone who knows what they’re doing. Complete the form on this page and you’ll receive 3 or 4 estimates from qualified local staircase installers.