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Avoid Going In Circles: Easy Tips For Building Your Spiral Staircase

Aug 17, 2007
How do you design a spiral staircase so that it is functional as well as elegant? All spiral staircases are, well, spiral. That is, they take you a full circle before you get up or down as the case may be. This is no problem if it's a floor opening as it would be in the case of a loft. The problems would surface if your spiral staircase goes against the corner of a room, near a wall. Then you need to be very careful to see that there are no problems when you reach the bottom stair and need to exit. This could be uncomfortably too close to the wall or you could end up having to duck your head every time. This is why particular heed needs to be paid to the rotation of the staircase and the placement of the same.

Spiral staircases have to rotate. If the rotation is too slow, you end up having narrow treads so that's not a safe option. If the rotation is fast, the treads are wide and but it returns under itself and that could cause a few bumps thanks to no headroom. You'll also have a problem with headroom if the top landing is too wide.

How do you measure for the spiral staircase? Quite simple, actually. All you need is the total height from floor to floor, without taking the carpeting into account. Take as large a diameter as possible. This makes it possible to have larger treads without having to increase the rotation. Allow at least 2" finger clearance for the handrail and also allow for the clearance of floor openings and walls. In case you want a tri-level system, you can have a landing in the middle and the staircases can be joined vertically. The thing with a spiral staircase is that it is so versatile that you can have it made with more than a full rotation or less than one as long as you keep in mind head clearance and the size of the treads.

Start with choosing the wood which could be the most widely used oak or any other wood that you've set our heart on. Plan for your tread size to be 1 after it's done. This is what most wood sizes are when you've finished them down. Tread thickness should also be kept in mind as it makes it stronger and it looks better too. If you are by any chance using pinewood, you will need to rip them into 2" pieces, turn them on edge and glue them into tread blanks.

Plan the landing and see how it will mount to your loft edge or your floor. The best way will be to notch the floor and joist the thickness of your landing into it. The wide landings are made with six screws, each Number 14, 2 1/2" and these fasten the landing to the notched floor joist. Countersink the screw heads into two holes bored in the landing, each hole being 1/2". Finish these holes with 1/2" flush wooden plugs in the holes.
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