Space saver stairs are becoming a lot more popular. Also known as alternating tread staircases, loft stairs or exercise stairs, they provides a convenient way of attaining an attic or basements where a standard stairs wouldn’t fit.

The steps are so compact because they are designed with alternate handed steps, effectively halving the amount of treads required – hence the overall impact of the staircase is much smaller than normal stairs. They can, however, take somewhat of getting used to. So, are space saver stairs well worth having? Let’s look at some of their best and worst aspects.

Positive aspects of space saver stairways

Convenience – Anyone who has ever wrestled with folding loft steps will appreciate being able to simply walk up a set of long lasting stairways when they need something from the attic.

Security – As a set structure, space saver steps are much sturdier than any ladder. In spite of this, the design needs to be right. As each step takes more strain than the average staircase (due to the steep pitch), the treads should preferably be at least 32mm thick and made from a strong timber such as oak or lung burning ash. Pine and similar softwoods are liable to fracture so must not be used. Slip-resistant surfaces for the treads are essential. You will probably desire a robust handrail, preferably on both sides. Provided these conditions are met, it is not necessary to worry about basic safety.

Style – These steps are available in a variety of designs and materials, so that you can choose one to suit your home’s persona and d? cor. The cut-away steps are believed by many to be a nice-looking design feature – and you will even paint or discolor them different colours for added effect.

Cost – And there is fewer treads in space savings staircases they generally cost less to produce than standard stairs, making them an economical strategy to home owners on a budget.

Drawbacks of space savings stairs

Restricted use – These types of stairways are not intended for use as a main staircase, but are only well suited for access to a single room such as an attic or basement.

Unusual design – This can take a little while to get to grips with the different tread arrangement, as you only place one feet on each step. A few people find it much easier to get started on their kept foot rather than their right, and vice versa. Many stair manufacturers are able to accommodate specific preference, and arrange the steps accordingly.

Pitch – Obviously, these staircases have to be steeper than standard stairs otherwise they will not have a reduced footprint. This does make them a little harder to climb than normal stairs, which is why strong handrails are especially important with this kind of design.

What about building regulations?

Legal requirements are frequently interpreted differently relating to in your geographical area, so always check with any local building control officer before placing your order a staircase. The primary factors to remember are: The steps should only lead to 1 room; they simply cannot be used as the key staircase; they must be straight; you must fit a handrail where the drop is greater than 60cm; the most pitch (steepness) permitted is 42 levels; and you need to allow a minimum brain room of 1. 9m.

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