Indoor Stairs Guide

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Define your style with a unique staircase!

The staircase is more than a construction that allows you to go from one floor to another, it is a central element of a decor and remains one of the first things you notice when you enter a new space. A staircase also makes it possible to define the style of a house, apartment, office or commercial space, by combining components (balusters, newel posts, steel stringers, etc.), materials (wood, metal, steel, glass) and styles to create a unique and durable staircase.

Prestige Metal has prepared for you an indoor staircase guide that will cover the different aspects surrounding the construction of a staircase, such as the types of stairs, stair styles, stair components and materials that can be used to build a staircase. This guide will help you make an informed choice about future construction and will save you time and energy.

What are the main staircase types?

Straight staircase

The straight staircase is the one we most often find on the market. It has a classic look and consists of a single flight of stairs with no change of direction. It remains the simplest staircase to design and build. In addition, in general, the stairs are the cheapest to build.

Example of straight staircase:

Straight staircase with central landing

If you have a room with a very high ceiling and you are considering a straight staircase more than 12 feet high, the straight staircase with central landing is perfect for you. The same applies if your staircase has more risers than the standard number of risers, which is usually 16. The main disadvantage of straight stairs with a central landing is the increased space they require. It is more common to find this type of staircase in businesses and commercial buildings, rather than in private homes.

Quarter-turn staircase (L-shaped staircase)

Also called an L-staircase, the quarter-turn staircase makes a 90-degree turn, left or right after a landing. The L-shaped staircase saves significant space. It requires less length than a straight staircase and can be easily integrated into small areas or corners. Its price remains slightly higher than the straight staircase.

Example of quarter-turn staircase :

Half-turn staircase (U-shaped staircase)

Also known as the U-shaped staircase, the half-turn staircase makes one or two 180-degree turns but includes only one landing. Like the L-staircase, the half-turn staircase saves space and allows you to build an unusual style staircase in smaller areas. Along with the straight staircase, it is one of the most commonly used types of stairs in new constructions.

Example of a U-shaped staircase:

Curved staircase

Unlike L-shaped stairs and U-shaped stairs, the curved staircase, as its name suggests, follows a continuous curve and is without landings. A curved staircase will add a level of luxury to your home, office and apartment. It will increase the resale value of any building. The curved staircase can be rotated to fit any architectural configuration and does not take up as much space as an ordinary staircase.

Example of a curved staircase:

Spiral staircase

The spiral staircase has a charm that is not very comparable to other types of stairs. Its extraordinary design contrasts with the regularity of the square corners traditionally highlighted by most other types of stairs. The subtle difference between a spiral staircase and a circular staircase is often the presence of a central post that reduces the area of the staircase.

The spiral staircase stands out for its versatility and its ability to adapt to small spaces such as apartments, lofts, cottages and small offices. Finally, due to its structure, the spiral staircase takes up very little space.

What are the pros of a spiral staircase?

  • Perfect for small spaces: Unlike the straight or U-shaped staircase, the spiral staircase requires little space for its construction. You can install it in an apartment, a condo, a cottage or even as a second staircase in your current home.
  • Easy to build: There are ready-to-install spiral staircase kits on the market that are used by construction and renovation contractors to facilitate the installation of your staircase. These kits do not compromise the structure and strength of your new spiral staircase.
  • Allows access to more space: Without proper access, there may be spaces that you could use that are left out, such as a large attic that could be turned into an extra bedroom. A spiral staircase offers flexibility in access points and is a better alternative than a straight staircase (too cumbersome) or a ladder (unsafe).

What are the cons of a spiral staircase?

  • Small size: The fact that the spiral staircase takes up so little space also remains a disadvantage. The angle of the steps is inevitably steeper and can be more difficult for some people, especially the elderly. Also, you can't move bulky objects (like furniture) up and down a spiral staircase.
  • One person at a time: Today, multi-generational housing is increasingly in demand. It can sometimes be difficult for an older person to climb stairs without the help of another person. If you are planning to have an aging relative in your home, building a spiral staircase is not recommended

The spiral staircase is a very versatile feature that you can use in many rooms, but here are the most popular rooms where you can install your spiral staircase

Circular staircase / Helicoidal staircase

A circular staircase looks more like a traditional staircase than a spiral staircase - think of the stone stairs found in medieval castles. Although it goes around and the steps are tapered, the curve is softer than a spiral staircase whose steps are easier to use. Sometimes called helicoidal staircases, their curve is more graceful and less compact than the spiral staircase, which makes it possible to create an architectural focal point. Of course, they require more free space and are more expensive to build.

Split staircase /Bifurcated staircase

A split staircase - originally called a bifurcated staircase - is the quintessence of all interior stairs. Typically used in the entrance of a very large and spacious house, the staircase begins with a wider flight at the bottom. Part of the climb is a generous landing with two narrower flights on either side of the lower part - one on the left and the other on the right. Large, expansive and expensive, it is a declaration of design that is intended to make a great impression.

Floating staircase / Suspended staircase

Also called floating stairs, the suspended stairs are made of steps that do not meet each other, and that have no steel stringer. Each step is independent of the others. The steps can be joined to both side walls, to a single side wall or to the central structure (in the case of a spiral staircase). The floating staircase offers a feeling of lightness without disturbing the transparency of the room in which it is located.

What are the flooring options for stairs?

Wood flooring

Wooden steps offer a more classic style, but blend well with other materials such as glass, metal and natural stone.

Advantages: Wood is a strong and durable floor covering. In addition, it is easy to maintain.

Disadvantages: In some cases, wood needs regular touch-ups to maintain its appearance and can be a little difficult to install.

Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring allows you to explore many styles as this type of flooring comes in a multitude of colors, textures and designs.

Advantages: Laminate flooring remains more affordable than floor coverings such as ceramic and hardwood. Also, it can be installed on most surfaces, with the exception of carpeting.

Disadvantages: Laminate flooring is not suitable for high-traffic areas, since it wears out more quickly. Also, it requires a wooden nosing to prevent the edge of the steps from wearing out too quickly.

Carpet flooring

Floor covering is less common for covering a staircase, but can be adapted to any style, depending on its color and pattern.

Advantages: Carpet is a soft, sound-absorbing material. It is also easy to install.

Disadvantages: Carpet tends to wear out quickly when placed in high traffic areas. Also, it is not suitable for people with allergies because it easily captures dust.

Ceramic floor coverin

Ceramic offers a wide range of patterns, colors andtextures to create a staircase with a unique style. It is often used in office or commercial stairs.

Advantages: Ceramic is a strong and durable material. It is also easy to clean and maintain.

Disadvantages: Ceramic is a hard and cold material for bare feet and can be difficult to install.

Vinyl flooring

Vinyl remains a very versatile, all-purpose material that can easily imitate wood and stone at a fraction of the price.

Advantages: Vinyl is an affordable flooring material. It is easy to install, clean and maintain.

Disadvantages: Vinyl can change color and lose its luster over time. Also, it requires a plastic nose to protect the edges.

What are the most popular staircase styles?

Staircases often remain a fairly dominant and central element in houses, offices and apartments. Before building it, it is essential to determine what style our decor will be before choosing our type of staircase. Here are some examples of staircase styles to inspire you. However, you can let your imagination run wild and merge different stair styles to create a unique and original staircase.

Contemporary staircase

The contemporary staircase remains a very popular staircase in new homes. The contemporary style is a clever combination of contrasts, such as a black central stair stringer and light-colored wooden steps. In addition, the fusion of materials such as wood, steel, glass and metal gives your staircase a very contemporary look.

Example of a contemporary staircase:

Minimalist staircase

For those who prefer a sleek decor, without embellishments or arabesques, the minimalist staircase is the perfect choice. The minimalist style remains more neutral in terms of colours, shades and contrasts, advocating pale shades and stainless steel, as well as the pure line, without curves. The combination of light wood and steel balusters is a perfect example of the minimalist staircase.

Example of a minimalist staircase:

Modern staircase

For the modern staircase, the materials in the spotlight are glass, metal, steel cable and stainless steel. It is often recommended to add a central silt and glass railings to clear the view. The modern style favors the use of materials with a chrome finish such as starting posts and stainless-steel bars. For a more industrial look, choose a stainless steel cable railing system.

Example of a modern staircase:

Classic & romantic staircase

The classic and romantic staircase exudes sobriety and elegance with solid wood and forged steel balusters decorated with arabesques and ornaments. This classic effect is often achieved by combining a curved staircase with more refined details on the stair railings and newel posts. Often, the wood’s color will be darker to reinforce the classic and romantic style. A staircase with darker colored wooden steps and ornamental balusters will seem like a fairy tale!

Example of a romantic & classic staircase:

Stair and Staircase Components Terminology

The construction of a staircase is a colossal project that requires a significant investment. By having quality components and materials on hand, your construction will be durable, robust and unique. A better knowledge of staircase components and parts will allow you to choose the right model and materials. Here are the main components that will help you better understand the structure of a staircase.

Balusters/Spindle: Elements of various shapes (round or square section, wood, metal, steel, iron) located between the staircase stringer and the handrail.

Balustrading : Collective name for the complete assembly of handrails, baserails, newels, spindles and caps.

Bullnose Step : Part that is usually at the bottom of the stairs with one or both ends of the step having a quarter circle design.

Corbel : Sealed bent metal piece for holding against a wall, a wall stringer or a dummy rack.

Closed String : String with the face housed/trenched to accommodate treads and risers so their profile cannot be seen.

Continuous Handrail : Using straight lengths of handrail connected to handrail fittings and ramps, the handrail flows over the tops of newel turnings creating a continuous run of handrail.

Curtail Step : Decorative shaped step at the bottom of the stairs usually accommodating the volute and volute newel turning of the Continuous Handrail System.

Cut or Open String: a string with the upper edge cut away to the shape of the treads and risers so that their profile can be seen from the side.

Flight (of stairs) : Set of straight steps between two landings of a staircase.

Going: Going of a flight of stairs is the horizontal distance between the face of the first and last risers. The individual going of a step is measured from face of riser to face of riser and for domestic use should be a minimum of 220mm.

Half Landing: Flat area of flooring where a stairway makes a turn between main floors.

Handrail: Upper part of the staircase that serves as a support for the hand.

Landing: Horizontal platform at the end or between two flights of stairs.

Newel Post: First element of the balustrade, fixed to the ground before the start of the stairs.

Nosing: Edge of the tread projecting beyond the face of the riser and the face of a cut string.

OAS: OAS refers to the width of the Staircase = Width Overall Strings.

Pitch: Angle between the pitch line and the horizontal.

Pitch Line: Notional line connecting the nosings of all treads in a flight of stairs.

Rack or rack stringer: An inclined piece of wood with steps, on which one of the ends of the steps and risers rests.

Rise: Rise of a flight is the vertical distance between the floors or landings connected by the flight. The individual rise is the vertical measurement from top of tread to top of tread.

Riser : Board that forms the face of the step. The maximum individual rise for domestic flights is 220mm.

Spiral Stair Beam : Concrete central column of a prefabricated spiral staircase. Depending on how the staircase is connected to the structure, the beam can be hollow or solid.

Stair stringer : Located on the side opposite the wall, the stair stringer is a piece of wood or steel on which the steps, risers and bars of the ramp rest. The stringboard is used to support the loads of the stairs. It ensures the stability of the staircase.

Tread : Horizontal part of a step.

Wall String : String of a staircase fixed flush with a wall.

Winders : Radiating steps narrower at one end that are used to change the direction of a stairs through 90° or 180°

What are the best materials for your staircase?

The construction of a staircase requires durable, robust and high quality materials. Each material has its advantages...and disadvantages. It's up to you to choose the right material to create a staircase that suits your taste, budget and style!

Wood Staircase

Advantages : Since time immemorial, wood has offered a charm and aesthetic appeal that no other material can provide. Regardless of the wood species (cherry, oak, maple and beech are the best!), you can combine wood with another material to create the desired style. In addition, with proper maintenance, the wooden staircase perfectly meets the requirements in terms of resistance to penetration, humidity and slippage.

Disadvantages : If you want to keep the noble appearance of your wooden staircase, you must carry out maintenance every season to preserve the wood and make its aesthetic and functional qualities last. Wood remains a relatively expensive material and can be sensitive to excessive humidity or drastic temperature changes.

Steel /Metal Staircase

Advantages : Whether it is for metal steps for a more industrial look, forged steel stair rungs for a more contemporary style or steel cable railings for a modern look, metal and steel have gained in popularity in the field of stair construction. In addition, the various metal components can be more easily customized (finishes, colors, aspects). Also, metal and steel combine very well with other materials such as wood and glass to create an incomparable style. Also, metal and steel are lightweight and more suitable for small spaces, especially for load-bearing structures.

Disadvantages : In general, the price of metal and steel is higher than the price of wood. Even with an environment with stable temperature and humidity, it is possible that after several years, metal or steel will rust (unless you use stainless steel. Finally, metal and steel are subject to vibration when using the stairs (can give an unpleasant feeling.)

Stainless Steel Staircase

The stainless steel staircase is light, stable and resistant. It is easy to install because it can be screwed or welded. It offers a modern and sophisticated style and it exudes an industrial and contemporary atmosphere.

Glass Staircase

Advantages : Apart from its ability to combine perfectly with contemporary style and add extra brightness to any room thanks to its ability to let light through, glass also gives the impression that the room is larger. Also, the glass railings blend in very well with other materials to obtain an original and unusual style. Finally, the glass used in staircases, particularly for steps and railings, is particularly resistant.

Disadvantages : In addition to a higher than average price, glass requires (as you guessed it), regular maintenance to avoid fingerprints, liquid splashes, etc...

Concrete Staircase

Advantages : Concrete is not a material that is very common for interior stairs and yet it has several advantages. Its great maneuverability makes it possible to obtain a custom-made staircase. You can improve its smooth and dull appearance with wood or colored tiles. A concrete staircase is virtually indestructible; it will be strong and will last for many years. In addition, the fact that the stair treads are full considerably reduces the noise and crackling that can occur with wood.

Disadvantages : Although relatively inexpensive, the installation of an indoor concrete staircase requires a lot of time (3-6 weeks) due to the formwork required for the steps and the drying time. Also, concrete can have a dull and cold appearance.

Guide Building Codes for Stairs (Canada and the United States)

Whether you are building new stairs or renovating old stairs, it is important to understand applicable stair codes. Codes vary by type of stair (residential stair codes and commercial stair codes). In this section, you will find an overview of building code for stairs in Canada and in the United States that have been broken down to give a general idea and understanding of stair code requirements.

Importance of Safe Stairs

The building code for steps are in place for the safety of everyone who will use the stairs. It is important to remember that uniformity is perhaps the most important thing

Common Stair Building Codes

The common set of stair building codes are known as the International Building Code for Stairs. Whether or not countries or states choose to adopt these building codes is up to them. There may be some variations from state to state and from province to province.

Stair code requirements may vary slightly between commercial and residential buildings. When beginning construction on a new building or doing renovations on an existing structure, it is essential to be familiar with the stair building regulations. This includes ensuring that the correct dimensions are being used, based on the type of building.

Learning about these standard and common staircases building codes will make it much easier to successfully build stairs which are safe and that comply to basic legal requirements.

Stair Building Codes and Regulations Canada & United States

In business for more than fifteen years, Prestige Metal is always on the lookout for construction regulations and standards regarding staircase components (stair balusters, steel stringers, starting posts, steel cable railing systems, etc.). Here’s an overview of the stair building regulation codes in Canada and in the United States.

Prestige Metal & Building Code Compliance

Building code is often seen as a series of complicated concept that homeowners and business owners leave to their contractors to figure out.

Simply put, building code are a list of safety regulations that buildings must meet to pass inspection. There are various levels of building code, from local municipalities to international organizations. There are also many requirements for every aspect of your building, including staircases.

Prestige Metal stands behind the safety of all of our stairs regardless of code compliance. As a stair components manufacturer, it is our duty to comply and respect all regulations regarding stair components, to ensure the safety of all homeowners.

What is a building code?

Building codes are legal requirements governing the construction of new buildings, as well as major renovations and changes in use of existing buildings. However, building codes can be difficult to understand, even by experienced workers in the commercial and residential construction area.

There are two types of codes – model and adopted. Model codes are a set of rules, suggested practices or recommendations for others to follow (i.e. what to do) pertaining to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. Model codes are not law, but they can become law once they are adopted by local, state, provincial, or national governments. Adopted codes, often referred to simply as “codes”, are those that are created by a jurisdiction themselves (either based on a combination of model codes or by other means permitted in local laws) that set out a minimum standard that must be respected.

Once adopted, these codes become minimum requirements, and are enforceable by law, with settled consequences for non-compliance. If you fail to meet code requirements, whether you are are a builder, designer, general contractor, or owner, you may be ordered to make necessary repairs, cease construction activity, have you building permit revoked, be required to demolish all or some portions of the work, face fines or have other consequences levied.

In addition, if you do not follow the established codes, this can result in serious legal and liability issues, cancellation of insurance, an inability to have utilities connected, or result in the building being declared unfit for occupation or even imprisonment. Therefore, code compliance is key and in the best interest of all parties.

What is a standard?

Standards are established for testing methodology, material specifications, guidance documents, practices and more. Standards serve as a common language to define quality and often establishing performance and safety criteria. A standard is more technical in nature when compared to a building code.

How are codes and standards developed in North America?

In both the United States and Canada, the codes and standards development process is intended to be open and transparent. It allows the participation of interested individuals or stakeholders. The processes are designed to weigh a balance of interests and provide due process. The development of codes and standards considers evidence-based building science and engineering principles. It also includes the experience and technical expertise of individuals and stakeholders, such as construction experts, construction and design professionals, enforcement personnel and product manufacturers.

Who enforces building and construction codes?

The practice of developing, approving and enforcing building codes may change depending on the country. There is a lot of evidence that strong and well-enforced building codes can and do save lives and reduce property damage, with many being overseen by building inspectors or code officials to ensure safe construction for residential and commercial buildings.

What are the main stairs building regulations in Canada?

Whether you’re an architect, contractor, building owner, or another member of the construction business, if you are building new or fixing existing structures, you must understand the building codes and standards that are applicable for you. Below we provide an overview of the most influential codes across Canada.

Staircase building codes in Canada

Serving as a set of rules that establish minimum requirements to which a new home, commercial or industrial building can be structured, building codes ensure that public health and safety are always prioritized. In Canada, jurisdiction over building codes is a provincial responsibility.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) publishes five national model codes, in English and in French, which must be adopted by an administrative authority to come into effect. In some cases, the Codes are amended and/or supplemented to fit with regional needs, and then published as provincial codes.

Canada’s constitution allows the provinces and territories to regulate the design and construction of new houses and buildings, as well as the maintenance and operation of fire safety systems in existing buildings. However, adoption and enforcement of the codes are the responsibility of the provincial and territorial authorities. The National Model codes in Canada include the following:

National Building Code of Canada : The National Building Code of Canada (NBC) focuses on the design and construction of new buildings and the substantial renovation of existing buildings. This is the building code on which provincial and territorial building codes are based.

Building standards in Canada : Standards estabpsh accepted practices, technical requirements, and terminologies for the industry and are distinct from codes, although standards may be referenced in code requirements.

CAN/ULC S134 Standard : This standard test method determines the comparative burning characteristics of exterior wall assembpes by evaluating a fire spread over the exterior surface.

What are the regulations for guardrails in Canada?

  • All open step surfaces greater than 30 inches must be equipped with a guardrail. This includes terraces, patios, landings, stairs and ramps. The height is measured vertically, extending to the ground or to ground level (at any point within 36 inches, measured horizontally, from the edge of the open side).
  • Railings on open surfaces, such as stairs, must have a height of at least 36 inches measured from the top of the rail to (1) the tread surface, (2) fixed seats or (3) the line connecting the leading edges of the steps. There are two exceptions to this rule. The first applies to guardrails on the open sides of stairs and the second applies to guardrails whose top also serves as a handrail on the open side of a staircase.
  • The interior sections of the required guardrails cannot have openings large enough to pass through a 4-inch diameter sphere. There are two exceptions to this regulation. The first refers to the triangular openings at the bottom of the stairs, and the second to the railings on the open side of the stairs.
  • Guard filler elements, balusters and filler panels must withstand a normal load of 50 pounds (applied horizontally) on an area equal to one square foot.

What are the regulations for steps in Canada?

  • All stairs must have a minimum width of 36" and a minimum height of 6' 8".
  • The risers must have a maximum height of 7 ¾ "and the open risers must have a height of 4" or less.
  • Each step in a staircase must have a minimum depth of 10". The step of curved stairs must not be less than 6" deep.
  • Residential staircases must have noses with a length between 1 ¼" and ¾, with a difference between the longest and shortest noses being less than 3/8".
  • Residential stairs with four or more risers require guardrails for added safety. Handrails must be between 34" and 38" above the stairs. They must be at least 1 ½" away from the wall to be easily grasped. The guardrails must also be kept away from the wall at a maximum distance of 4 ½" in order not to make the stairs too narrow.
  • Spaces between panels must be less than 4" to prevent children from passing through openings.

What are the regulations for handrails in Canada?

Handrails have to be easy to locate, offer continuous support, and be easy to hold on to. They must be at least 5 cm (2 in.) from any surface and not encroach on the required width of the stairwell by more than 10 cm (4 in.). The ends must not pose any danger to people with limited vision, children’s heads, or anyone wearing loose clothing or carrying oversized items.

When are handrails required?

Handrails are required for interior stairways that serve a single dwelling unit and have more than two risers.

How high does a handrail need to be?

The National Building Code of Canada sets the height of a handrail between 86.5 cm (34 in.) and 96.5 cm (38 in.). If guardrails are required to make a stair landing safe, the handrails can have a maximum height of 107 cm (42 in.).

Does my stairway need two bannisters?

A single handrail suffices for stairways less than 110 cm (43.5 in.) wide. Wider staircases require handrails on both sides (exception: The 2010 NBC allows for a handrail on one side only in private dwellings). Handrails are always required on both sides of curved exterior staircases, regardless of width.

What are the stair building codes in the United States?

From residential to commercial building, there are strict stair building regulations and codes everywhere in the United States. Even though these standards are reviewed and updated every five to ten years, every state has the right to review it and add regulations specific to its area. Let's take a look at the main features of staircase building standards in the United States

Regardless of the scale of your stair building project, when you begin a new project, you have to make sure that you meet all required building codes and regulations for your state, and, when applicable, your city. Below is an overview of the International Code Council (ICC).

The International Code Council (ICC) : To put the US building regulations in order, the International Code Council was founded in 1994. This new code merged existing model code organizations : the Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) and the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). The final code emerged in 2003, resulting in a single organization, with over a century of history and experience developing model building codes.

The ICC publishes building codes applies to commercial, institutional and residential structures and buildings. These codes guide the compliance process to ensure safe, sustainable, and resilient construction.

International Building Code (IBC): The IBC is a model building code that addresses both health and safety concerns for buildings based upon prescriptive and performance-related requirements. The IBC has been widely adopted across the United States as well as several other countries. The code provisions are intended to protect public health and safety.

International Residential Code (IRC): The IRC is a comprehensive model code for residential buildings that establishes minimum regulations for dwellings of three stories or less. This code combines provisions for many elements and systems pertaining to residential home construction including building, plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas, energy and electrical.

International Existing Building Code (IEBC): The IEBC establishes minimum regulations for upgrades and improvements addressing the alteration, addition or change of occupancy in existing buildings. It uses prescriptive and performance-based provision and is intended to ensure public health and safety pertaining to the existing building stock.

International Green Construction Code (IgCC): The IgCC provides the design and construction industry with an effective means of delivering more sustainable, resilient and high-performing buildings. Formed through a partnership between AIA, ASHRAE, ICC, IES, and USGBC, the IgCC represents a formula for green building codes that works toward a new era that includes environmental health and safety as code minimums.

As stated earlier the International model codes can still be adopted or modified on a state or local level. Most states have adopted some form of the IBC, although Chicago remains the only municipality in America that continues to use a building code the city developed on its own as part of the Municipal Code of Chicago.

Here are some of the most popular staircase regulations coming from the 2018 IRC (International Residential Code.) :

What are the regulations for indoor guardrails in the United States?

Guards required: Guards will be located along open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, ramps and landings, that are located more than 30 inches (762 mm) measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point within 36 inches (914 mm) horizontally to the edge of the open side. Insect screening is not be considered as a guard.

Height: Required guards at open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, porches, balconies or landings, can’t be less than 36 inches (914 mm) high measured vertically above the adjacent walking surface, adjacent fixed seating or the line connecting the leading edges of the treads. However, there are exceptions. First, guards on the open sides of stairs shall have a height not less than 34 inches (864 mm) measured vertically from a line connecting the leading edges of the treads. Second, where the top of the guard also serves as a handrail on the open sides of stairs, the top of the guard shall not be not less than 34 inches (864 mm) and not more than 38 inches (965 mm) measured vertically from a line connecting the leading edges of the treads.

Guard opening limitations: Required guards can’t have openings from the walking surface to the required guard height which allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102 mm) in diameter. However, there are exceptions. First, the triangular openings at the open side of a stair, formed by the riser, tread and bottom rail of a guard, shall not allow passage of a sphere 6 inches (153 mm) in diameter. Second, the guards on the open sides of stairs shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 4 3/8 inches (111 mm) in diameter.

What is the regulation for stairway width in the United States?

Indoor stairways shall be not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in clear width at all points above the permitted handrail height and below the required headroom height. The clear width of stairways at and below the handrail height, including treads and landings, will be not less than 311 /2 inches (787 mm) where a handrail is installed on one side and 27 inches (698 mm) where handrails are installed on both sides.

What are the regulations for stair handrails in the United States?

Handrails shall be provided on not less than one side of each flight of stairs with four or more risers. The handrail’s height, when measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing, or finish surface of ramp slope, can’t be less than 34 inches (864 mm), and not more than 38 inches (965 mm). However, there are two exceptions. First : the use of a volute, turnout or starting easing will be allowed over the lowest tread. The second exception is where handrail fittings or bendings are used to provide continuous transition between flights, transitions at winder treads, the transition from handrail to guard, or used at the start of a flight, the handrail height at the fittings or bendings will be permitted to exceed 38 inches (956 mm).

What are the regulations for stairway landings in the United States?

There must be a floor or landing at the top and bottom of each stairway. The width perpendicular to the direction of travel must be not less than the width of the flight served. For landings of shapes other than square or rectangular, the depth at the walk line and the total area will be not less than that of a quarter circle with a radius equal to the required landing width. Where the stairway has a straight run, the depth in the direction of travel shall be not less than 36 inches (914 mm). The only exception is when a floor or landing is not required at the the top of an interior flight of stairs, including stairs in an enclosed garage, provided that the door doesn’t swing over the stairs.

What are the regulations for stair treads and risers?

The riser height shall not be more than 7-3/4” and the run shall be minimum 10”. The riser shall be measured vertically between leading edges of the adjacent treads. The greatest riser height within any flight of stairs will not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 inch. The run is the horizontal distance measured from riser to riser. The tread is the horizontal plane of a step. and its depth (run + nosing) within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by 3/8 inch.

If you wish to have more information about stair building regulations in effect in Canada and in the United States, we invite you to consult our appendix at the end of the guide.

Appendix I – Documents and references – Building Codes – Canada and USA

United States - Building Codes for stairways (by state)

In the United States, most building codes and regulations are based on The International Building Code (IBC). However, it’s best to check with your municipality or state code to see which version of the state code applies where you live. General contractors, commercial building companies, renovation companies and construction companies are aware of the regulations and must respect all regulations and standards stated in the building code. Following an inspection, failing to follow building code may cause an insurer to withdraw coverage and stop insuring the construction. Unlike water or fire damage, civil liability can be at play here.

Alabama (AL) : : For Alabama county codes

Alaska (AK) : : Fire and Life Safety Regulations, a Division of Fire and Life Safety

Arizona (AZ) : : The Arizona Office of Manufactured Housing (OMH) maintains standards of safety and quality for all manufactured homes, factory-built buildings, and accessory structures.

Arkansas (AR) : : Arkansas Building Authority

California (CA) : : California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) website

Colorado (CO) : : State Buildings Programs (SBP) is responsible for establishing minimum building codes for all construction by state agencies on state-owned or state lease-purchased properties or facilities.

Connecticut (CT) : : Department of Construction Services Office of the State Building Inspector


Florida (FL) : : Florida Codes & Permits Online

Georgia (GA) : : Georgia's Construction Codes

Hawaii (HI) : : Construction Code Rules: Department of Accounting and General Services

Idaho (ID) : : Idaho Division of Building Safety FAQs

Illinois (IL) : : Building Code / Regulations

Indiana (IN) : : Fire Prevention & Building Safety Commission / Code Services

Iowa (IA) :
[PDF] Handbook

Kansas (KS) : : Energy Efficiency and Building Codes in Kansas

Kentucky (KY) : : Public Protection Cabinet: Department of Housing, Buildings & Construction

Louisiana (LA) : : Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal

Maine (ME) : : Bureau of Build Codes & Standards

Maryland (MD) : : Find links to Building Codes and Authorities Having Jurisdiction for the state of Maryland

Massachusetts (MA) : : Massachusetts State Building Code

Michigan (MI) : : The dedicated staff of the Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) work as a team to assure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe and sanitary.

Minnesota (MN) : : State & county code information

Mississippi (MS) :
Below you will find resources for building codes for metal and steel buildings in Mississippi for cities such as Jackson, Gulfport, and Biloxi. : The Official State Website of Mississippi

Missouri (MO) : : Code of State Regulations

Montana (MT) : : Department of Labor & Industry - Business Standards



New Hampshire (NH) : : The New Hampshire State Building Code Review Board (hereafter referred to as "Board") is charged with the responsibility for reviewing and updating the New Hampshire building code.

New Jersey (NJ) : : The Division of Codes and Standards establishes and enforces building codes, in partnership with the State's municipalities, to protect the health and safety of New Jersey residents.

New Mexico (NM) : : New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department

New York (NY) : : Division of Code Enforcement and Administration (DCEA) website

North Carolina (NC) : : NC Building Code Council home page. This page contains menus and links to assist you with the NC Code process.

North Dakota (ND) : : The North Dakota Division of Community Services (DCS) is assigned the responsibility of updating and amending the North Dakota State Building Code.

Ohio (OH) : : Board of Building Standards

Oklahoma (OK) : : Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission

Oregon (OR) : : Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD)

Pennsylvania (PA) : : These pages provide information regarding Pennsylvania's statewide building code, generally known as the Uniform Construction Code (UCC). Enforcement of the UCC began in April 2004.

Rhode Island (RI) : : State of Rhode Island: Building Code Commission

South Carolina (SC) : : South Carolina Building Codes Council

South Dakota (SD) : : Manufactured Homes Statute 34-34A -- All residential manufactured homes (mobile homes) must comply with the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.

Tennessee (TN) : : Fire Prevention Division, Residential Building Codes

Texas (TX) : : TDLR is providing information regarding license renewal, expiration and compliance to evacuees displaced by the effects of wildfires in Texas.

Utah (UT) : : Utah Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing

Vermont (VT) : : Building and Construction Licenses and Permits

Virginia (VA) : : Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code

Washington (WA) : : SBCC is a state agency created by the legislature to provide independent analysis and objective advice to the legislature and the Governor's Office on state building code issues.

West Virginia (WV) :
West Virginia Building Code

Wisconsin (WI) : : Safety and Buildings Division Home Page

Wyoming (WY) : : Department of Fire Prevention & Electrical Safety

United States Stair Building Codes

International Code Council (ICC) :

International Code for stair treads and risers :

International Building Code Document - PDF (IBC) :

International Building Code (IBC)   :

Canada Building Codes for stairways (per province) 

British Columbia Building Codes :

Alberta National Building Code :

Manitoba Building Codes :

Nova Scotia Building Code :

Ontario Building Code :

PEI (Prince-Edward-Island) :

Yukon :

Canada Stair Building Codes

CCA (Canadian Construction Association) :

Canada National Building Code (NBC) :

About Prestige Metal

Since its creation in 1997, Prestige Metal has been striving for perfection in the design and production of staircase components. This process begins with the selection of the highest quality materials, reputable suppliers and a team of experienced workers.

We have also entered into lasting and respectful partnerships, which allows us to offer stair balusters, steel stair stringers, wooden and steel newel posts and custom-made stair railings, which are distinguished by their trendy appearance and unique design. Our technical team has also chosen materials (forged steel, stainless steel, wood, steel cable, glass, etc.) that can be easily integrated into all styles (classic, contemporary, modern, industrial, romantic.)

Prestige Metal focuses its energies on the creation and production of exclusive and original staircase components. The combination of several materials, such as crystal and wood in stainless steel balusters, allows us to offer you a unique style to decorate your home, apartment or business. We want to make your staircase more than just a practical everyday object, but a masterpiece of architecture that everyone will notice at first glance.

Whether it is for glass, stainless steel, aluminum, wood species or iron, finishes, stains or paints for stair bars, modules, starting posts and other stair accessories, Prestige Metal's suppliers are pre-selected and hand-picked to offer our customers products that they will not find anywhere else.

We are proud to offer products everywhere in Canada and even the United States, through specialized distributors and retailers. Also, many architects, general construction contractors, renovation companies and interior designers have used our products for their construction and creation and have always been completely satisfied.

Be sure to get and impeccable, fast and reliable service to design a staircase that will be the centerpiece of your construction!

Contact us

Do you have any questions about our services, our manufacturing process, our prices or our staircase components? Don’t hesitate to contact us by email by phone. You can also come and visit our showroom to discover all our innovative styles! Our consultants will be happy to advise you!

To reach our head office, showroom and manufacturing workshop :

Prestige Metal
2120, Lavoisier
Quebec, QC, Canada
G1N 4B1
(Click here for the itinerary)

Phone :
1-800-881-8811 (Toll Free)

Fax  :
1-888-334-3002 (Toll Free)