Stairwell hazards as addressed by Bicycle Bungalows Custom Homebuilder Houston Heights

This content was written for Bicycle Bungalows

While on a recent trip to Dallas, Bill from Bicycle Bungalows Custom Homebuilder Houston Heights had dinner with a friend at an outdoor restaurant. One of the topics we discussed was on designing better stairs. I told her that I wanted to make an important point: often accidents are caused by many conditions – only one of which is the stairs themselves. For that reason custom homebuilder builders Houston Heights should take extra measures when designing stairs and think about what could go wrong. After dinner, we were walking down several flights are smooth stone stairs and I prove my point. Dim lighting? Check. Dark stairs with no contrast? Check a couple of beers? Check. Distracted by conversation? Check. Not holding on to a railing? Check.

I got to the bottom of the run, and for some unknown reason, the designer had made the first step about twice as deep as all the others, so I was expecting to step down onto the plaza, and instead caught my toe on the outside steps and went flying. Luckily, only my dignity was injured. But it could’ve been much worse. Stairs are part of life, and our bodies Navigate the rise and run without us needing to think about it. Yet stairs vary greatly and how they function. This has enormous implications for aesthetic’s, convenience, and safety. With that in mind, here are 12 tips for better Stairs. Code is a minimum, by going slightly beyond, your custom homebuilder Houston Heights stairs will be safer.

1. Use a more gentle rise.

The IRC 2015 allows up to seven and three-quarter inch rise, so that’s what most builders do. But on the commercial side, the code let us rise to 7 inches and run to 11 inches, based on research by OSHA and others. A 7 inch rise is comfortable and easy to navigate by users of all ages. Custom Homebuilder Houston Heights noted that Seniors living in Homes with risers 7 inches or less or often remain in place longer than those with seven and three-quarter inch or higher risers which can limit access to upper floors.

A friend’s mother bought a newly built home in 2005, Bicycle Bungalows custom homebuilder Houston Heights recommended certain upgrades to make it easier for her to age in place. At the time, the code allowed eight and three-quarter inch risers and 10 inch tread’s. She paid a substantial amount to add risers to the main and basement stairs, getting the rise under 7 1/2 inches in a run to 11 inches, and to add a second railing. Today, at age 95, she still gets downstairs to work on hobbies.

2. Create longer runs.

Short treads are an accident waiting to happen. I have big feet, almost 12 inches long. It’s difficult for me to use Staires when the run is so minimal at the front corner of my foot hangs over the nosing. I encounter it frequently. The only safe way to send this by turning your foot out of angle so more of it engages the trip. Construction industry has fought code changes for years that would mandate a 7 inch rise and 11 inch run. The argument is at the stairs take up more space, but the average stare away account for about 40 ft.² per floor in a typical home. Do you add 2 inches to each tread and perhaps one extra Tread and riser, the additional room needed would be only seven or 8 ft.² total.

3. Add a second railing.

Watch people using Stairs sometimes: it’s fascinating. Many don’t really hold the railings, instead they just run their fingers down them, knowing the Safety net is there if I need it. People who are right-handed might hold a railing going up there not going down and vice versa since it isn’t they are dominant hand. Two railings provide added security for everyone in both directions. Commercial code requires railings to start about a foot beyond the stair at top and bottom; this is also a good practice to adopt by custom homebuilder Houston Heights, when possible.

4. Increased lighting.

Descending a stairway is one of the most dangerous things we do in the home, and poorly lit stairs are an accident waiting to happen. There are many solutions: windows; skylights; lights at top, bottom and metal; motion sensor night lights or dedicated dusk to dawn light lights; lighted handrails; lights in base; lights under nosings; and electroluminescent grip edges. To name a few. It’s easier to get natural light to a stair that abuts an outside wall, but it’s not impossible for And inside stare with the use of skylights or solar tubes.

5. Custom Homebuilder Houston Heights Thinks about rail diameter.

The average person must be able to grasp the railing with his or her fingers around it to hold tight. In the 80s, there was a trend of using two by sixes mounted upright, and calling that the handrail. Cheap, easy, and oh so modern. But your ability to hold that type of rail depends on grip strength, which declines with age. I did some work on a home where the rails were not only 2 x 6, but we’re mounted lower than code minimum which is 34 inches. The senior homeowner lost her grip and fell to the landing below, ending up in the hospital. By designing a one and three-quarter inch diameter pipe rail that melted to the existing 2 x 6, we created a functional rail that. Had the added benefit of being 4 inches higher.

6. Use slip surfaces and rounded edges.

Although wood stairs are lovely, they can’t be slippery, and that’s why custom homebuilder Houston Heights prefer carpeted stairs or at least a runner. Carpet also provides a cushion so that if somebody does fall, the chance of injury is lower. As to the rounded, gentler nosings; anyone who has slipped going up and get their shams can appreciate that a rounded nosing is less painful.

7. Design wider Staires.

Coda minimum for residential scare with is 36 inches, but oftenThat is the measurement of the shaft, not the walkable surface, which is reduced by stringers and handrails. I find 42 inches a better with Colin easier for passing someone going up or down, and easier for carrying things. People notice and welcomed the extra room, and it’s an inexpensive luxury.

8. Provide visual cues.

We need to see where we are stepping to avoid an accident. Commercial stairs are required to feature nosing with a contrasting color or texture to signal the edge of a stair, so why not residential? Staires can’t be a different material or color than the landing floor with excellent nosings.

9. Avoid solitary steps.

A single step is almost invisible to and and attentive homeowner or visitor. Conversation pits from the 1970s were notorious for this. Holmes also often had identical flooring on upper and lower levels, a sensually camouflaging the elevation change. If the project absolutely requires a two level floor plan, design it so the changes at least 12 inches allowing for to 6 inch risers to the lower level.

10. Know finished floor heights.

Frequently, during a framing a remodel, Carpenter will build stairs before the homeowner has made a final selection on the floor and finish. Depending on the material that’s chosen, this can create a variation in height that’s too great or too little. For this reason, some contractors create temporary stairs that they can take from job to job while others will hold off building the stair until the flooring is finalized.

11. Remain consistent.

All risers and all trades must be within three eights inch of each other for the IRC 2015. There is a very good reason for this. A veteran Carpenter once told me that building Staires is a sacred trust. I had never heard that this expression, but instantly knew what he was talking about. As designers and builders, we have a secret trust with our clients, their families, gas, and future inhabitants of the home, but the stairs will be predictable. After completing just two steps the stairway, the human brain memorizes the rise and run and adjust stride accordingly. Inconsistency throws off balance. We see this code requirement missed most often at the top or bottom of the run, where the Carpenter didn’t account for Different thicknesses of finished floors. But the top or bottom steps are the most critical to get it right.

12. Allow adequate headroom.

Code requires 6’8” clearance at a minimum. And there’s a good reason, as many people are over 6 feet tall. If they are descending the stairs in a hurry, they may smash their head on a low hanging beam. Most older stairs, particularly basement stairs, fill this requirement, sometimes miserably. In a remodel, you can off and re-frame a joist or two over the stair to gain a critical few inches of headroom. Even in code requires 6‘8“ clearance at a minimum.

There’s a good reason, as many people are over 6 feet tall. If they are descending the stairs in a hurry, they may smash their head on a low hanging been. Most older Staires, particularly basement stairs, fill this requirement, sometimes miserably. In a remodel, you can often reframe a joist or two over the stair to gain a critical a few inches of headroom. Even If the stair still doesn’t meet code, adding a couple of extra inches can make a difference.