03 Jul 2015

Staircases & Balustrades: A step in the right direction


Richard McLane, Design Director of bespoke staircase expert Bisca, profiles the key specification concerns to choosing a staircase.


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Unless you are a serial self-builder, building your own home can be one of the most challenging, stressful, time-consuming, but ultimately rewarding, projects you undertake in your entire life. At the very beginning you have a blank space, white paper and hundreds of ideas all vying for a place in your property; arranging these ideas on paper to optimise your space and create a home that works for your family is the tricky part.

Regardless of how much it costs, how it looks and what type of property it is going into, there are some fairly standard points to consider when choosing your new staircase.

Budget: If you have your heart set on a bespoke staircase, it’s always worth allocating a budget for the staircase element rather than lumping it in with main project costs, as basically your budget defines what you type of staircase you can have. Prices for a complete staircase and balustrade vary from as little as £400 for a DIY store MDF option to a fully bespoke design from specialist staircase manufacturers starting around £20,000.

Space: Consider the space as a whole, not just the hallway or immediate vicinity of the staircase. If you have an open-plan configuration, remember the staircase is on view from other areas of the property. Think about direction of traffic – how do you approach the staircase – would a curved staircase or directional bottom treads be an option?

Time: Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to commission a bespoke staircase. To avoid backing yourself into a compromise situation, it’s worth getting the staircase specialist involved as early as possible to get some layout ideas and outline costs.

Treads: Open treads are a great way to let light into the area, and glass, timber, stone, marble or even Corian are all materials you could consider. Most bespoke staircase manufacturers will try to match existing timber in the property.

In terms of trends, brash and bling has made way for tactile and timeless. Innovation in floor finishes has revolutionised timber available for staircase components.

Off the rails

With balustrades, roughly speaking, you have the choice between glass, timber, steel or plaster. Position, family requirements and budget are all important factors in making the right decision. When obtaining quotes, it’s important to consider any landing or galleries needing balustrades, not just the staircase itself.

Glass is not perhaps the best option if you have a young family – unless you relish the chore of regular cleaning to remove tiny hand prints! Timber spindles will give you a more traditional effect and are a cost effective option, whilst forged or machined steel balustrades can be as simple or as ornate as you desire.

Finally, comparing quotations for any bespoke item on paper is always open to interpretation due to the variable nature of the item and its method of manufacture. It is really worth doing your homework to understand exactly what you are being quoted for so you can make an informed decision.

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