How to: Move the staircase
Image courtesy of iStockphoto.
On the move
You wouldn’t think twice about removing walls to open up a room, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that moving your stairs can foster the same result. If you’re gutting your interior, this is the ideal time to consider a change of floorplan. If you aren’t planning a major home renovation, be prepared for a big job that may involve reviewing how your home is supported. Builders and contractors will often quote on the easiest and most cost-effective solution but if you think outside the box, assessing the flow of your home and how the stairs relate can be a good lesson.
Open it up
If you want to open up your interior but don’t want to absorb the cost of moving your whole staircase, taking down the walls of an existing stairwell can have a huge impact. There is also the option to replace traditional stairs with a spiral or floating style to add architectural interest to your home. Opening up a stairwell can bring in natural light and create the illusion of more space. It’s an idea especially worth thinking about for smaller houses.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto
Variety of variables
Moving a staircase is tricky to cost out because there are a lot of variables to decide on before you being the renovation. Here are a few things to think about before you renovate:
- Are you replacing the stairs with traditional wooden ones or are you looking at something more modern like concrete, metal or glass?
- Is this a custom project that requires an architect and a team of designers or is this something that you can plan on your own with your builder?
- What walls need to come down and what additional support needs to be added to your home’s existing structure?
This is a really big decision that isn’t impossible to make; it just needs to be carefully thought out before you actually make the move.
Follow the rules
Before you decide on a design that’s big on looks, make sure it’s not light on code. There are formulas and code builders that architects must use to determine the number of risers that a staircase needs to be functional. The average stair height, or riser, is 7-¼" but can be anywhere between 5" and 7-⅞". To figure out how many steps are needed, take the distance between the two floors that the stairs will be joining and divide it by the height of the riser. For safety reasons, it’s also important to keep in mind that railings must be at a height of 35" and spindles, or balusters, must not be more than 4" apart.