Taken from The Building Regulations 2010 Approved Document
Part K1 – Stairs, ladders, and ramps
2013 edition for use in England
Staircases come in all sizes, shapes, and materials and can be custom-made to suit your property. However, it’s important to make sure that your new staircase not only looks great but that it’s also safe to use – that’s where stair regulations come in.
When it comes to a domestic staircase in the British stair regulations, the definition goes like this: “a stair intended to be used for one dwelling”. This is pretty straightforward wording, meaning that which can only use this kind of stairs for one house or flat, and the stairs must be situated in that specific apartment. Because of that, in most building regulations, these are called “private stairs”.
- All steps must have the same rise (the gap between one step and the next).
- The maximum rise of a step should be 220mm.
- The length of the step (referred to as the ‘going’) should be a minimum of 220mm and a maximum of 220mm.
- All steps should be level.
- The edges of the steps, referred to as the lip or nose, should be 16mm.
- Open rises, which are steps with a gap between them, should be constructed so that a 100mm sphere can’t fit through them.
- An individual rise must be between 150mm and 220mm.
- An individual going must be between 220mm and 300mm.
- The pitch cannot be greater than 42°.
Note that each step on your staircase has to be the same height and length. However, on a staircase with a landing, each flight may have a different individual rise. Twice the individual rise plus the going (2R +G) must be between 550mm and 700mm, however, this only causes a problem in extreme situations.
Also referred to as an e-z winder, spinner, and various other names, the kite winder is a useful tool for minimizing the space taken up by a staircase with a turn. A kite winder also has rules that must be adhered to. A stair with kite winders normally has a combination of straight treads and winder treads.
The winder treads must all be equal to or greater than the straight treads
the going of all winder treads must be equal.
The rule for all treads states, “Twice the individual rise plus the going must be 500mm and 700mm”, which can be a problem with 2 kit winder boxes.
To meet building regulations, the winder treads are both equal and greater than the straight threads. However, they will be huge if applying the following rule:
Rise + Rise + Going = Greater than 550mm but less than 700mm
The problem is, this will be greater than the maximum 700mm required by the building regulations. However, the 2 kite winders would not comply with the regulations, but 2 different kite winders might.
- There are no recommendations for the minimum width stipulated for a domestic staircase within part K of the building regulations.
- However, to ensure that a staircase is visually pleasing and comfortable to use, it is generally accepted that on the main staircase, going up to the first floor serving multiple rooms should be no less than 800mm, however, we would recommend 850mm to 950mm as this allows more space to get things up the stairs.
- For loft conversions, the generally accepted minimum width is 600mm, however between 700mm and 750mm is recommended.
- On staircases with a turn, it’s acceptable to have each flight a different width.
For a staircase with a kite winder, if the stairs are more than 1000mm wide then please contact us.
This part of your stairs is pretty simple: you must have a minimum of 2000mm of headroom at all points when walking up the staircase from the pitch line. This has to be constant throughout the entire staircase.
It is a common misconception that headroom is measured from the top of the tread, however, the building regulations stipulate that headroom must be measured from the pitch line of the staircase.
Where there is not enough headroom to achieve two meters of headroom like for loft conversion, it is acceptable where there is a sloping ceiling to have 1800mm headroom at shoulder height so long as there is 1900mm headroom at the center of the staircase.
However, this is only applicable for loft conversions.
Where there are real difficulties in the available height, some building control officers will allow you to build a newel out from the wall to comply with the regulations. This will restrict the width at the top of the stairs but maybe an option for you to consider. Contact your local building control officer for clarification.
Landings are very important when it comes to building regulations for stairs, as you need to put appropriate measures in place so people can see your stairs when entering the space to avoid anyone falling down and becoming injured.
The landings can have two purposes. They either act like a turning point where the staircase changes directions (but continues) or part of the floor at the end of the staircase. Regardless of which you choose, its width has to match the narrowest section of the stairs.
- There must be a landing at the top and bottom of every staircase.
- The landing must be at least equal to the smallest width of the narrowest flight of the staircase.
- Landing at the top and bottom of every staircase should be level and flat, although those at ground level can have a gradient, as long as it doesn’t exceed 1:20.
- No door should swing closer than 400mm to the front of any step.
- Landings must be clear of any permanent obstructions.
HANDRAILS and BALUSTRADE
One of the main concerns of building regulations on stairs is the health and safety of those dwelling in a property. And as such, handrails are an important and mandatory part of any staircase design. A handrail must be provided on any part of the staircase which is open to prevent people from falling.
- The building regulations that apply to domestic stairs state that handrail height should be between 900mm and 1000mm measured from the pitch line to the top of the handrail. Anywhere with a drop of more than 600mm, they are mandatory. This means that, on most staircases, the maximum number of steps you can have without a handrail is two.
- You do not need a handrail on the first two bottom steps.
- Stairs should have a handrail on at least one side of the stairs that are less than 1 meter wide. A handrail on both sides of the stairs will be required if the stair width is greater than this.
- To protect children from getting their heads stuck, any spindles on your staircase should not allow a 100mm sphere to pass through.
- The distance between the spindles cannot be greater than 99mm. Please Note that with turned spindles, this should apply to the smallest part of the spindle, so on a run of spindles, with turned spindles, you would need more spindles than you would with square or stop chamfered spindles.
- The building regulations forbid the use of what is commonly referred to as ranch rails, this was a popular style of balustrade and is often favored due to being cheap and easy to install, although they’re not directly forbidden, the building regulations state that in a building where children under five years of age have access, then guarding that can be climbed must not be used.
Nosing is the area of the tread that overhangs the riser.
On a domestic staircase with closed risers, there is no minimum or maximum overlap for the nosing overhang, however, we would recommend 20mm.
It is also possible to make stairs with no nosing overlap for a domestic staircase (unless it’s an open riser).
To prevent children from falling or getting trapped, all stairs with open risers should be constructed so that a 100mm sphere cannot pass through. This means that generally, open riser staircases cannot have fully open risers. The solution to this is to either use a partial riser in timber or a chrome riser bar to ensure that there is no more than a 100mm gap anywhere. Also, on an open riser straight the treads must overhang by at least 16mm.