Some Advantages and Disadvantages of Staircases
Advantages of straight Stairs:
Straight stairs tend to be the easiest to go up and down or ascend/descend as we say in the industry.
They are typically the easiest to build however this depends allot on the level of detail in the design.
Straight stairs only need to be connected at the top and the bottom (no intermediate supporting structure is required).
They work well with minimalist designed homes due to their inherent simplicity.
By selecting thinner treads, open risers and thin metal stringers, straight stairs can be made more transparent than other types of stairs allowing less obstruction to the view beyond.
No landing is required if the number of risers are kept under 16 or the overall vertical height is less than 12 feet.
Its relatively easy to build railings and handrails for straight stairs.
Measuring for railings is simpler also.
Disadvantages of straight stairs:
Straight stairs use up a fair amount of linear space which has to be planned for in your design.
Some of the other stair types create a privacy barrier between the floors of your home. Straight stairs do not offer this privacy.
A stair 12 feet high requires a landing to break up the span. The addition of a landing will use up allot more space and therefore these types of stairs are seldom used in residential construction. You will see these more frequently in large commercial buildings.
Advantages of L shaped Stairs:
L Stairs can be more visually interesting.
They provide a visual barrier between floors so they can add some privacy.
Also L Stairs can help somewhat with sound transmission between floors if the stairs are contained within walls.
Some believe they are safer than straight stairs as the central landing reduces the number of treads one could fall in a given flight.
The landing can provide a place to stop and rest while ascending.
They can be located in a corner of a room if this works better for your design.
Disadvantages of L shaped Stairs:
L shaped stairs are a bit more difficult to build.
A support is typically required for the landing in a L type stair. Often this is built into the surrounding walls so it goes unnoticed. In modern dwellings however it is usually desirable to open up the space leaving the stair structure visible. In these cases the supporting structure can be visually minimized by taking advantage of the strength of steel to create slim supporting members.
Through careful engineering,it is possible to eliminate the landing support all together.
Handrails for these types of stairs require more skill and planning to construct.
In climates where basements are used, stairs are typically stacked over each other for efficient use of space. Since basements are often used for storage, large items can be difficult to move in and out of the basement.
Advantages of U shaped Stairs:
U shaped stairs can be easier to fit into an architectural plan.
They offer some architectural interest.
The landing(s) can offer a resting point part way up the stairs.
Disadvantages of U shaped Stairs:
These types of stairs are a bit more difficult to build.
Advantages of Winder Stairs:
The main advantage of winder stairs is that they require less space than many other types of stairs. They are very common in older homes, often used as a secondary staircase where the grand staircase may have been in the entry and the winder used as a access to the kitchen.
They have more visual interest. Winder stairs seem to create a more seamless transition,visually, as they meander around corners. For this reason they have gained popularity in modern homes. Their compactness has also made them attractive in sustainable home designs.
Disadvantages of Winder Stairs:
Winder stairs are a little harder to navigate than L stairs.
It can be more difficult to add a handrail to these than some of the other types of stairs.
Like L shaped stairs, a center support is typically required.
Advantages of Spiral Stairs:
One of the key advantages of spiral stairs is their compactness. They are very popular on beach front decks where space is at a premium. They are also used extensively on city lofts for the same reason.
Spiral stairs can be attractive and there are may variations on railings styles which can have a major impact on the overall appearance of the stair.
Since the center pole and landing typically provide the structural support for the stairs, they do not need much in the way of extra support structures making installation easier than many other types of stairs.
Disadvantages of Spiral Stairs:
Spiral stairs are more difficult to navigate than other types of stairs. It is for this reason that codes do not allow them to be used as the primary access to a full second floor of a home.
Walk ability improves as the outside diameter gets larger so if you have the space, you may want to consider going a bit larger. We recommend going 5 feet in diameter if you can.
It is difficult to carry large items up spiral stairs. Only one person can go up and come down