Your choice of staircase for a loft conversion is a key design and practical consideration. The design and position will determine how much space is used on the lower floor to create access, as well as affecting the layout of your new loft room.
If the aim of your loft conversion is to create space, you won’t want the staircase to steal too much from down below. Yet at the same time if you are going for that ‘wow factor’ a purely functional staircase might not make quite the right impression.
Practical Considerations For Loft Conversion Staircases
In most cases it makes sense to put the loft stairs above the existing staircase. Generally the space above is redundant and this means only a minimal amount of room is lost from the first floor. The impact the staircase has on the existing first floor is really important. A poorly conceived design can make your first floor landing feel cramped and may break up the flow of the property.
The staircase must also land in the loft with at least 2m headroom. For some loft conversions this will mean that it’s only really feasible for the stairs to enter under the apex of the roof; therefore this feature may dictate the layout of your loft conversion. Even if you’re under 6ft tall you cannot skimp on headroom: it’s Building Regulations!
Similarly when considering the type of staircase you use, Building Regulations stipulate that the pitch of a staircase can be no more than 42°. Steeper and narrower staircases will save space, but at the same time must be functional and look good. If you’re planning a loft conversion to increase the value of your property, these factors really matter when you want to sell.
Loft Staircase Design
Once you’ve addressed the practical considerations it’s time to think about the design and overall appearance of your loft conversion staircase. If space is tight or you have other constraints you may be limited to just a few options. If this is the case for you I would recommend that whatever solution you go for; invest in quality.
Even if you have to opt for a narrow, steep, space saving staircase it can still look great if you invest in a quality finish. It then becomes part of your overall loft conversion design, rather than the only option available.
If you do have a bit more flexibility the next thing to consider is what your loft conversion is going to be used for. If, for example, it’s to create a children’s playroom you will need to ensure that the loft staircase is safe and easy to use for small children. Wide treads, a robust handrail and banisters at the top of the stairs to prevent accidents, are all design features to think about. Features such as open risers – i.e. vertical gaps between the treads – may not be a sensible option for small children.
If you want the stairs to stay in keeping with the style of the existing house, ensure the newel posts & spindles are molded to match your existing staircase. If you fancy a completely different & modern style, why not think about glass panels or steel spindles which can set off a unique contrast.
Types Of Loft Staircase
When you speak to a building firm or architect about your loft conversion they should go through the staircase options in detail, taking into account the practicalities of your property and what you wish to achieve. The following staircase solutions or the most commonly used:
Straight staircase: A straight flight of stairs is easy to build but requires space to work effectively. Typically a straight flight may be positioned over an existing staircase if there is sufficient space at the top and bottom to create a landing.
Quarter staircase: Generally a quarter staircase starts off with three or four treads to a landing and then does a 90° turn and continues in a straight run. This type of staircase is used when there’s not enough space to create a straight flight.
Half staircase: This space saving staircase splits the flight in half with a landing.
Winding staircase: Another space saving staircase that works in the same way as the quarter staircase but instead of a landing incorporates pie-shaped steps, therefore taking up less space.
Spiral staircase: Spiral staircases are also effective space savers and are often used as a design feature in loft conversions.
Half tread staircase: For those loft conversion where space is at a premium a half tread staircase could be an option. These have a steep pitch and save space by alternating treads taking up half the space of a normal straight flight.
Having explored your options and different types of staircases the next step is to think about the style, design and finish of your loft stairs. Along with features such as open risers, floating treads and the materials used, also think about lighting and how this can be integrated with the loft conversion.
Loft staircases don’t have to be boring and functional. Within the limits of your property structure it is possible to be creative and give your loft conversion the wow factor!
If you’re planning a loft conversion in West London and would like to discuss staircases and other factors in more detail, please get in touch. Call 0208 819 3883, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to book a timeslot for a free quotation.