3 Building Codes for Stairs Explained

Building Codes are very important whenever you are building any type of structure. Understanding the building codes for stairs can be challenging because every state has slightly different laws. There are also different types of building codes for different types of stairs.

Common Stair Building Codes

The common set of stair building codes are known as the International Building Code for Stairs. Whether or not countries or states choose to adopt these building codes is up to them. Check with your local state to find out about the regulations in your area if you are unsure.

There are a number of different stair building codes depending on the type of stairs that you are building in your home. These building codes include regulations for spiral staircases, emergency escape stairs and also regular staircases in your home. Learning about these standard and common staircase building codes will make it much easier to successfully build stairs which are safe and satisfy the basic legal requirements.

Stairs may not seem very dangerous. However, they kill over 4000 people every single year throughout the United States. As a homeowner you need to understand how to make staircases much safer.

Spiral Staircase

Spiral staircases are an old fashioned idea but they have never been more popular. These staircases are ideal for places where you have a small amount of space, they go vertically up and have a very small footprint. They are commonly used to access attic conversions because of this feature.

The maximum rise of a spiral staircase is slightly larger than the maximum rise for a standard stair case simply because the first step has to be a bigger drop in order to be able to clear the floor when going down the stairs. The maximum rise for a spiral staircase is 9 feet 1/2 inch. The minimum headroom of spiral staircases is 7 feet 8 inches.

The spacing between balusters needs to be less than 4 inches in order to be safe, this is the same as most other types of stairs. The maximum opening between treads is also normally 4 inches.

Straight Staircase

Straight staircases are still the most common type of staircase. Most homes have one straight staircase as a way to get up to the second floor. The building codes for staircases stipulate minimum measurements.

Open risers are not permitted under the latest building codes because these are seen as being very dangerous. These can also be dangerous for older users. The staircase cannot normally rise more than 12 feet before a landing, the landing must have at least the same length as the width of one of the steps.

The width of the staircases will vary depending on your local area, the minimum width is typically 2 feet 8 inches, the most common width is 3 feet 6 inches. A staircase over 44 inches wide will need handrails on either side of the stairs.

Emergency Staircase

Emergency stairs are any staircases which are not used for normal purposes, these are only designed for emergency use and should not be used everyday. The emergency staircases have their own set of regulations which you need to understand to get the best results.

It is a legal requirement to have emergency staircases in many types of buildings. It can seem like a waste to have two staircases very close to one another, but it is a matter of safety in the building regulations. The emergency staircases have many of the same regulations as a standard staircase. Emergency staircases should also be signposted so that people know exactly what they are and when they can use them.