The Best Metals for Spiral Staircases

A spiral staircase is always a focal point. It immediately draws the eye and demands attention. But a good design is only as good as the materials used to build it, right? Spiral staircases can be built out of many different metals, so which one is the best for your home?

The Spiral Design

Spiral staircases are a favorite choice for homeowners because this is an incredibly space-saving design, not to mention aesthetically pleasing. Many people mistakenly believe that spiral staircases are somehow less safe or less structurally sound than more traditional staircases, but this is not the case. In fact, the spiral design has a lot of inherent strength. A spiral staircase that’s built well is just as strong and durable as any other type of staircase.

Metal Spiral Staircases

A metal spiral staircase

Metal spiral staircases are most commonly made out of aluminum, steel, and galvanized iron. When choosing which metal to use for a spiral staircase, weigh the various advantages and disadvantages of each option.

  • Aluminum - Since aluminum is lightweight and anti-corrosive, it's a great choice for a set of spiral stairs. Compared to other metals, aluminum is very affordable. It also has a nice natural look and is easy to clean. However, aluminum is more brittle than steel. It does not absorb vibrations as well, and it's more likely to break than to bend when under pressure.
  • Steel - Famously tough, steel is a good building material because it's extremely strong. Steel is used for a wide variety of construction and engineering projects, including stairs. Steel is an ideal choice for spiral staircases because it's malleable, which means it can be bent and shaped without fracturing or losing its strength. The sweeping curves used to design spiral staircases can be beautifully captured with steel. This material is rust-resistant and highly durable, which is exactly what you want in a building material.
  • Galvanized iron - Like other galvanized metals, galvanized iron is coated with a layer of zinc for added corrosion resistance. The galvanizing process prevents rust, a problem that is common to iron. But iron is also incredibly strong material. Steel is actually an alloy of iron. A well-built set of spiral stairs made out of galvanized metal can survive for 75 years with no maintenance required.

Why Metal for a Spiral Staircase?

Metal is not your only option when you’re thinking about adding a spiral staircase to your space. Medieval spiral staircases were actually built out of stone, which is an incredibly durable but not at all a practical option for most of today’s homeowners. Wooden spiral staircases are also popular, but like all wood, this material can warp, crack, and fracture over time due to various environmental factors. Metal, on the other hand, is built to retain its shape and strength in spite of weather and wear. Rust is the main problem you’ll face with metal spiral staircases, though breakage is possible under extreme conditions.

Your Staircase Design

Looking down a metal spiral staircase

Certain metals are better-suited to specific design styles than others. Spiral staircases can be designed in a number of different ways. If you’re building a staircase with a center pole and floating steps, you can choose any metal you like. If your staircase design uses railings, you will need to choose a malleable metal that will retain its strength even as it bends and curves.

Consider the environment your stairs will be in. You want to choose a metal that’s going to be easy to clean and maintain. If you live in a damp and/or humid climate, consider a galvanized metal that has great corrosion resistance.

Choosing Your Metal

Choose your spiral staircase metal based on your design needs and your environment, not to mention your budget! There are lots of options open to you, including wood and metal designs that make use of both material types. Now that you know more about the materials you can choose for your spiral staircase, you can decide what’s best for your particular design needs.