Build a Spiral Staircase in Your Home: Planning Build a Spiral Staircase in Your Home: Planning

Spiral staircases have been used for centuries. In “days of yore” spiral staircases climbed up into castle turrets and  church towers as well as down to dank dungeons. However, in addition to their nostalgic appeal and ability to enhance a home's décor, spiral staircases are also a practical alternative particularly when floor space is limited since they require much less room than traditional stairs and potentially add value to a home. Since a spiral staircase is so compact they can be placed in a corner of a room if space is limited. However, before you run off and start designing and building your spiral staircase, there are a couple of things you need to consider.

  • Since they are so compact, a spiral staircase shouldn't be used to access locations where you will need to move heavy or bulky furniture or objects regularly. They are better suited for providing access to a loft or basement office.
  • By design, spiral staircases are steep and usually narrow; meaning they aren't a good option when young children are in the home or for people who aren't steady on their feet. A missed step could cause a major accident.

Now, if you still feel a spiral staircase is the solution for you, here's some thoughts on installing your own.

Planning and preparation for your spiral staircase

  • First decide if you are going to build your staircase from a kit or take on the design and building yourself. Kit manufacturers understand and conform to national building codes (more on that later) and provide you with precut parts so your role is putting them together. Undoubtedly building from a kit is a less challenging project but, If you're an experienced DIY'er you can likely install a spiral staircase yourself. (however, at some times you will probably need some assistance).
  • A staircase kit usually consists of a strong pole for the center of the staircase, treads and risers that are attached to the center pole along with brackets and a circular clamp or brace to rest the outer edge of the stairs, as well as balusters and a handrail.
  • Since spiral staircases can be made from all kinds of different materials – wood, plastic, metal are just some of your options and a wide range of different styles from utilitarian metal to floating designs -your budget and your design taste will obviously determine your choice.
  • While most kits will conform to national building codes , local codes can vary, so it's important you check with your local building authority to find out what your local code demands.

Here's a general guideline of the code requirements for a spiral staircase

  • 5' stair diameter
  • 26” minimum walking path /tread length
  • 7.5” tread depth at 12” from the narrow end
  • 30° turn per tread
  • 9.5” maximum riser height
  • all treads must be identical
  • 6'6” headroom allowance measured from the edge of the platform to the tread below.
  • 4” baluster spacing
  • 26” landing width

Part One | Part Two

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 800 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to He can be contacted at [email protected]

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