What are the different types of staircases?
A staircase is comprised of a flight of steps between two (or more) floors, including any landings, handrails, and balustrades. But more than a means of getting from one floor to another, a staircase can be a key interior design feature of a space.
There are a range of staircase types, each with their own aesthetic features and practical elements. Structural features and materials are often used to enhance different types of staircases to produce a more unique, visually dynamic result.
There can also be crossover between types of staircases when different architectural elements are used in tandem – this means that staircases can be a simple straight structure or something ornate and complex, like a split, helical or central spine staircase.
One of the most commonly used types of staircases – straight stairs are fairly self-explanatory, describing any set of stairs that run in a straight line without curved bends or winder steps. This can include multiple floors with landings in between, as long as all of the stairs run in a straight line before stopping at a landing or floor.
Similar to straight stairs, winder stairs run in straight lines but instead of changing direction at a landing, the steps continue around a 90-degree bend. The steps at the bend are not regular rectangles, but customised triangular shapes designed to perfectly facilitate the bend without needing a landing. They make a great space-saving solution that’s popular in homes and domestic properties because they allow someone to continuously ascend or descend the stairs even around a bend, unlike staircases with landings.
Spiral and helical staircases date back to classical antiquity and were a notable architectural feature of Ancient Greek and Roman temples. The oldest evidence of a spiral staircases is found in an Ancient Greek temple located in what is now modern-day Sicily, dating back to 480 BC!
Whilst sharing a visually similar curved shape – helical and spiral staircases are architecturally distinct types of staircases. While helical staircases are any curved stairs, spiral staircases form a complete circle around a central column.
This iconic step design is one of the most striking types of staircases. Each step is directly fixed to the adjacent wall, and this forms the only point of contact. The overall effect is something that looks like it’s floating – allowing lots of light to pass through in between each step. This can be paired with a glass balustrade to maintain the illusion of floating stairs, with added safety.
Split staircases make some of the most visually impressive types of staircases. Incorporating almost any primary staircase design, split stairs separate from one flight of stairs into two parallel staircases, or from one landing forming a mirror image staircase. They’re a recognisable design element often incorporated into grand staircases.
This is a minimalist step design, where the shape of each step and riser form an ascending zigzag. Its angular shape is visually striking, often paired with multi-level straight stairs, though it can be incorporated into helical and winder stairs and other types of staircases.
Like the above, central spine staircases offer a dynamic structural element to a staircase – linking steps together with one central column that acts like a supporting spine, hence the name. Like open riser stairs, central spine staircases allow light to pass between steps and are a design element that can be used with several types of staircases including straight, helical, winder, and split.
This is a feature where the riser part of the step is absent, meaning light can pass through the space between each step, creating an open and airy feel. It’s a feature that can be incorporated into a range of staircase types – from straight stairs to spiral stairs.
Interested in a new staircase?
At Canal Architectural, we’ve been designing, fabricating, and installing bespoke staircases for over 25 years. If you’re unsure about the type of staircase you want or are looking to find out more about the suitability of your space – you can learn more about our range of staircases or contact our friendly team who are more than happy to advise. We design, create, and install entirely bespoke staircases to ensure that what we deliver perfectly suits your space and taste.