A staircase creates a feeling of grandeur in your home, but it needs to be safe and secure above all else. Our industry experts weigh in on how you can ensure that your staircase meets the design requirements and important safety regulations.
It’s in the design
These days staircases have become a feature in their own right. Whether you choose glass, steel, stone or wood, getting the correct design is fundamental for a solid staircase.
“The openings between the ornaments, bars, balustrades and so forth must be in line with the safety specs and building regulations,” says owner of Studio Stockhammer, Peter Stockhammer. He adds that it is also imperative to have enough fixing points and strong columns on long straight railings to avoid wobbling.
Work with reputable contractors
Since most staircases will be made from a mix of materials, you will be using various contractors and sub-contractors to complete this part of your home. “Make sure you use contractors who understand how each other’s trades work to ensure the best and neatest junction between them,” advises Tom Lowe, the general manager at Kaljon – Timber Stairworks. “I have seen too many staircases where a steel or concrete structure is put in long before considering how the timber treads or balustrades will be fitted. This can impact the aesthetic of your staircase hugely. It is usually best to work with contractors who have worked with each other in the past,” he adds.
Check the fixing points
The fixing points on your staircase are also extremely important when it comes to getting a sturdy and strong structure. “All fixing points should be done with chemical anchors and not with roll bolts or nylon plugs,” explains Stockhammer. The chemical anchors will allow for the necessary strength and stability of the staircase, while giving you peace of mind. Stockhammer warns against the use of wall plugs of any kind, advising instead that even the railings should be fixed with chemical anchors as well.
Do your homework
Commercial sales director of Steel Studio Daniel Oosthuyse urges you to “do some homework, get references and go and see the work of your chosen contractor. You should also insist on a detailed quotation which will outline total quantities quoted, member sizes and profiles, glass thicknesses and fixing method as well as installation method and lead times”.
Safety checklist for balustrades
No staircase is complete without a beautifully designed and functional balustrade. Werner de Beer, the director of the East Rand branch of Inso Architectural Solutions, offers a checklist to guarantee that your balustrade is secure and safe.
• Check and confirm that the end result (installed product) meets the design criteria initially set out for the project in terms of glass panel top-edge height from finished floor level, and that any gaps between the glass panels installed do not exceed 100mm.
• Check and confirm that all glass panels are stable and properly secured by applying pressure laterally to the top edge of the glass panel.
• Check and confirm that no sharp edges or corners of glass panels are exposed in such a manner that it may cause injury if fallen against.
Featured images: Inso Architectural Solutions