What are space-saver or paddle stairs?

Paddle staircases also known as space-saver stairs, loft stairs or alternating tread stairs are manufactured using alternating paddle treads.

They get their name from their unusually shaped treads which resemble a paddle, they’re often referred to as space-saving stairs due to the fact they take up a lot less space than a conventional staircase.

What are they used for?

Space saver stairs should only be used in scenarios where it’s not possible to use a normal staircase they should also only serve a single room in a loft.

How much space do they save?

Space savers stairs will be roughly half the length of a conventional staircase, this is because they use overlapping paddle treads, which means you can get the same number of treads in roughly half the amount of space.

The diagram shows how a conventional straight staircase compares to a space saver staircase, based on a 2600mm floor to floor.

What do building regulations say?

Part K of the building regulations, for England and Wales say’s the following:

  • Meet the conditions of the diagram as shown
  • Have handrail up to both sides of the staircase
  • Have slip-resistant surfaces
  • Minimum headroom 2000mm measured to the pitch line.
  • Only in a loft conversion
  • Only where there’s not enough space for a normal staircase.
  • Only when the stair is for access to one habitable room and/or a WC (although this must not be the only WC in the dwelling)

Quite a few building control officers will only allow a space saver staircase if the room is non-habitable i.e. access to a boiler or storage only. Please check with each building control officer you use.


You can ensure that your space-saving staircase can be used with complete safety by following these tips. First and foremost, if your steps need to change direction at any point, you must use a landing. Winder treads are not permissible under any circumstances as, combined with the steep angle of the steps, they make trips and falls more likely.

Due to the steeper angle of loft stairs, it is better if the staircase has a handrail on both sides and the treads should have slip-resistant surfaces. It is very important to have a strong handrail when climbing these staircases.