Four Types of Stairs

The simplest is also the most dangerous

October 30, 2018

From "A Beautiful Hazard" 

Straight Stairs

The simplest, and also the most dangerous, since, if you slip at the top, your probably in for a ride to the bottom. This style is the easiest to retrofit for a stair glide in the case of an aging-in-place remodel.

L-shaped Stairs

Up to a landing and turn creates some interest and mystery. This is the second-easiest design to retrofit for a stair glide.

U-shaped Stairs

One of my personal favorites, as there is never more than half a run to a landing, whereupon the stair doubles back. A bit harder to move furniture up or down.

Winder Stairs or Circular Stairs

Sometimes, when space is at premium, we must take a flat landing and break it in two pie-shaped pieces, creating winder stairs. Not ideal, but it can work well, particularly if you have railings on both sides. Note: In contradiction to popular belief, circular stairs don’t save any space. A 6-foot-diameter circular stair takes up 36 sf. A straight 3x12-foot stair takes up the same 36 sf and is a heck of a lot easier to move furniture up and down.

About the Author


About the Author


Doug Walter, of Doug Walter Architects, in Denver, has specialized in residential remodeling for 25 years. He has a long history with Universal Design and aging in place. He helped write the NAHB’s Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist curriculum and holds an ICC Certificate as an Accessibility Inspector.

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