Ladders: features of choice

A ladder is perhaps one of the most familiar and necessary items for a person. Same as a chair, bed, door or window. Whatever staircase may be – external or internal, narrow or wide, spiral or straight, with or without railings – this is a necessary attribute of the house, a connecting link between floors.

There are also ladders, garden ladders, side ladders, rope ladders. But we are interested in those who “settled” in country houses or two-level apartments. Such stairs are a profitable investment and a great home decoration. After all, a good staircase will serve faithfully for more than one family generation! That’s why, before heading to the salon, clearly decide what exactly you need. And believe me: the more you know about stairs in general, the easier it will be to find your own – the one and only.

  • Balustrade – a staircase with a railing or a balcony above the stairs, usually of a semicircular shape.
  • Balusters – decorative details of the railings located between the steps and railings and resembling a column.
  • Boltsy – type of ladder base. Special steel bolts embedded in the wall to which the stair tread is attached.
  • Stair step depth – the ratio of the height and width of the step, approximately equal to the size of the foot of an adult.
  • Kosour – type of ladder base. It consists of two inclined beams (at an angle of approximately 45 °), to which the steps are attached. Steps are nailed, inserted or glued to the grooves of the stringer.
  • Flight of stairs – ascent with a certain number of steps from the floor of one floor to the floor of the next or to the landing. This distance is also called “span”.
  • Base of stairs – a structure that holds the ladder in a stationary position. The most common types of bases are kosour, bolts, casing.
  • Riser – a board or slab located under the upper threshold of the step and covering the gap between the steps.
  • Stair step – the height of one step, including its thickness.
  • Ladder anatomy

    Any staircase necessarily consists of two main elements – the base (kosour, boltsev or casing) and steps (open or with a riser). Additional elements of the staircase are the platforms between the marches (or balustrades), railings and decorative elements (balusters, sculpture, etc.).

    There are five basic types of stairs in nature:

  • on kosoura;
  • on the bolts;
  • on the casing (screw and spiral);
  • folding and retractable (the more common name is attic);
  • combined.

  • 1. Wooden staircase on a straight stringer
    2. Staircase on stringer with 90 ° turn
    3. Wooden staircase on a rounded stringer
    4. Staircase on the bolts
    5. Spiral staircase
    6. Spiral spiral staircase

    Let’s get acquainted with each type in more detail. Let’s start with the stairs on the kosoura. Kosour – two beams set obliquely on the sides of the stairs, which hold the steps. Kosoura are straight, rounded or serrated.

    If the kosour is straight (that is, the steps of the stairs are enclosed between two straight beams), the flight of stairs turns out to be straight. With a rounded stringer (when the beams are curved), the staircase has a visible bend. At the toothed stringer, the upper side of the beams is cut out in the form of teeth, and steps are inserted into these teeth (they are called “overhead”).

    In 90% of cases, ladders on kosoura are made of wood. It turns out very nice, solid and respectable. But there are certain nuances here. Firstly, the stairs on the stringers are very heavy – due to the design itself, massive balusters, ornaments. Secondly, the larger the staircase, the more it dominates the space. Thirdly, sooner or later the wooden steps will start to creak..

    But this design is not the only option for a house or apartment. A wonderful thing is the stairs on the bolts. Unlike stairs with an external stringer, the stairs on the bolts have an invisible fastening system for the steps. It is arranged like this: rubber gaskets and steel bolts (bolts) are inserted into the wall, onto which the steps are attached. Rubber pads are used to reduce vibration and squeaking when walking. The handrail is connected to the steps with balusters.

    The ladders on the bolts are comfortable, durable and lightweight, saving space in the room. This is especially true if the house or apartment is not very large. In addition, such stairs are convenient to repair: if one of the steps is damaged, it can be removed without any problems without affecting the neighboring ones. Since the stairs on the bolts do not have side beams, corners, niches where dust accumulates, they are easy to clean..

    Of course, the stairs on the bolts are not as luxurious as the stairs on the kosoura. Moreover, due to the apparent lightness of the stairs on the bolts, they are mistakenly perceived as less strong and stable, although in fact they are absolutely reliable and safe.

    The third type of staircase is spiral staircase and spiral staircase. In the old days, spiral staircases were arranged in towers, that is, in narrow high rooms, where it was required to save space and energy when climbing to a great height. Now they are made anywhere, regardless of room size and style..


    Possible staircase configuration

    In today’s spiral staircases, the steps are located around a central post – the so-called casing – and do not need additional support or anchorage. But in principle, a spiral staircase can be mounted on kosoura or bolts. However, you should not confuse spiral staircases with spiral ones. Such stairs do not have kosour, bolts and are usually located in the center of the room. Their steps are famously twisted around the casing in the form of a straight vertical spiral. But ordinary spiral staircases can be slightly elongated. These days, the functionality of spiral staircases is less important than their design capabilities. A spiral staircase can be made of wood, in a classic style, or you can create a real miracle of the avant-garde from glass and metal.

    The only “but”: climbing such a ladder, you need to be extremely careful. And one more thing: sometimes, for the sake of design, spiral staircases are made very narrow, but in vain, because it will be difficult to disperse. By the way, an overly narrow staircase promises other problems. For example, it will be difficult to bring large furniture to the second floor. So keep this in mind beforehand.

    Folding or attic stairs are purely practical. Usually they are made of small size (only 12 – 15 steps). They take up very little space and, as a rule, consist of several parts – one stationary and two movable, folding ones. The two lower parts fold up and go up, and the upper stationary part is connected to the attic hatch. If the staircase is entirely metal, it is often made according to the principle of “accordion”: pull the step – and the staircase will immediately unfold. Wooden stairs fold out like a folding bed. Attic stairs are usually made of wood, aluminum, or steel. But please note: all metal parts must be galvanized, otherwise they may rust.


    A striking example of a combined staircase: wooden facing of steps, concrete stringer, metal railings and balusters

    Combined ladders combine all of the above. We are talking not only about the combination of materials from which the stairs are made, but also about the combination of methods of fastening the steps. Well, let’s say, one interfloor span is made of wood and fixed on stringers, and a spiral staircase is arranged above … But this, of course, is not for everybody..

    Materials

    For the manufacture of stairs, first of all, of course, wood is used. In addition, metal, marble, granite, concrete, glass and their various combinations are successfully used..


    1. Ladder from the collection of the Italian factory Alfa Scale
    2. Straight wooden staircase on the stringer, open steps, without risers

    Stairs on kosoura are usually made of wood – oak, beech, ash, pine. And this is not surprising: the tree is perfect for the home. This material is environmentally friendly, warm, allowing you to realize the most daring design fantasies. But not every tree is suitable for these purposes, but only perfectly dried. Otherwise, then troubles will begin: the steps will bend, cracks will appear, the stairs will begin to “walk”.

    However, this does not mean that the stairs on the kosoura are only wooden. Of course not! There are a lot of options. For example, kosour can be metal, and wooden steps. Or wooden kosour, the steps are faced with marble, and the railings are forged.

    Boltz and spiral staircases also provide great opportunities for designers. You can make them from wood and steel, steel and glass, steel and stone, etc..

    By the way, about the stone. Marble stairs are mainly used for indoor use. This is due to the fact that marble, having a rich color gamut, is not sufficiently resistant to changes in humidity and temperature. But granite does not care about the vagaries of the weather, so granite in this case is a universal material. But it doesn’t matter if the stairs will be made of marble or granite – remember that these are rather slippery materials. So if children or elderly people live in the house, it is better to reinforce special anti-slip profiles on the steps..

    What to consider?

    When ordering a ladder from a specialized company, you need to consider several important points. Here are the most basic ones:

  • Project (floor plan, where the proposed location of the stairs is indicated).
  • Room height: to correctly determine the number of steps, the angle of inclination of the stairs and the size of the ceiling opening.
  • Features of the design and its functional purpose: spiral corner staircase, straight on kosoura, on bolts with a turn, folding, etc..
  • The size of the room and its style (classic, avant-garde, modern or eclectic).
  • In addition, when choosing a staircase, remember that it can be straight in shape, with a landing, as well as with turns – 1/4, 1/2 or 2/4. Turning angles vary.

  • Retractable and folding (attic) stairs

    And also remember: for each staircase of a certain shape, you need to calculate the minimum required space.

    For example, a small-sized staircase for an apartment can have 14 steps with a maximum height of 20 cm, a step depth of 23 cm and a stairway width of 80 cm. And in a spacious country house, these parameters can be increased. But in any case, such a calculation is a responsible and complex matter. Therefore, if you are not a professional architect or mathematician, it is better to contact the specialists of the company where you order the stairs. There they will make the necessary measurements, perform the calculation and offer the optimal plan.

    Another nuance: it is very important to observe the depth of the “step” of the stairs – the ratio between the height and width of the step.

    The step should be comfortable to climb – not too high or too low. The optimal step depth of the stairs is about 16 – 25 cm.That is, the height and width of the step should be such that you don’t have to lift your legs or, conversely, mince like a Japanese geisha.

    Hence the conclusion: the shallower the step and the higher the steps, the steeper the staircase turns out.

    The number of steps depends on the height of the ceiling and the angle of inclination of the stairs. For example, with a ceiling height of 2 m 60 cm and an angle of inclination of 45 °, the staircase will have 13 steps 20 cm high (260 cm divided by 20). When calculating the number of steps, their width does not matter.

    And only after you (together with specialists) have determined the future type of staircase, its location in the house, the number of steps, their width and height, the angle of inclination of the staircase, you can start designing and decorating.

    Stair decorations

    Modern finishing materials allow you to create the most daring design solutions. But, of course, a lot depends on your taste and the overall style of the interior. It is difficult to imagine a harmonious combination, for example, of a massive oak staircase and an ultra-modern high-tech design. And, on the contrary, antique walnut furniture, great-grandmother’s massive sideboard and grandfather clock with striking will most likely look strange against the background of a glass-metal screw structure.


    Wooden stairs are decorated with rosettes on kosour, carved balusters, wooden sculpture

    If we talk about accessories, then wooden stairs are traditionally decorated with carved balusters and railings. They also make oval entrance areas, initial racks in the form of handmade wooden sculptures, rosettes on the stringer.

    Metal structures are often painted in a wide variety of colors – modern polymer and paint materials make it possible to make the stairs very elegant.


    Interfloor wooden staircase on a straight stringer with several spans (marches) (photo on the left)
    Classic staircase on the bolts. Steps and railings are made of wood, balusters are made of metal (photo on the right)

    Nowadays, stairs with wrought iron railings and balusters are in fashion. Twisted molding gives the combined ladder elegance and airiness, especially if it is a helical structure.

    Another innovation is the lighting of the steps. If the staircase is open, without side slats, then the lamps located on the “wrong side” of the staircase gently illuminate each step. If the lamps are mounted in a stringer, you can use them as an additional light source in the evening or at night..


    Ladder on a toothed stringer (photo on the left)
    Combined wooden staircase with glass inserts instead of railings (photo on the right)

    What else? The turn of the stairs at a certain angle, platforms between marches, steps carved in different ways – all this can give the house originality and originality.

    Where are they bought?

    In stair salons, you will be amazed by the variety of models, styles, colors and design finds. Spiral staircase with wall mounting, stair racks made of glass, spiral octagonal staircase, vertical straight, vertical with steps of various shapes, combined – with marble facing of steps and wooden balusters and railings …!

    There are many firms in Moscow offering their services to those wishing to purchase a staircase. But the best thing, of course, is to go where there is the greatest choice, and where you are offered excellent quality and exclusive design (as, for example, in the Moscow firms “CM-Kvadrat”, “Scale 1: 1” and “Li-El Design”). Anyway, we really liked the stairs that we saw there.

    Firm “CM-Kvadrat” offers stairs of Belgian, Italian, German and Russian production. Here you will find all types of stairs made of oak, pine, cherry, maple, beech, ash, mahogany; from galvanized aluminum and steel, cast iron (forging) and copper; from marble and granite; brass, glass, concrete.

    If you are a staunch adherent of European style, the firm “Li-El Design” offers to your attention magnificent Italian stairs (firms Alfa Scale, Scale, “Grana Enzo”, “Gradini”). After familiarizing yourself with the catalogs of manufacturers, you can choose any model and configuration. Moreover, at your request, the models can be combined: the railings and balusters will be taken from one, the kosour with steps from the other, and the staircase from the third. The staircase can be made of wood, metal, glass, marble or concrete.

    In the recently opened interior showroom “Scale 1: 1” since October, a collection of stairs by the Italian factory Alfa Scale, the winner of the European tender “Ideal Home”, has been presented. Among the classic and modern models, staircases stand out, in which the support post and railings are made of originally curved solid wood. This gives the product grace and lightness..

    Prices and lead times are different. The real term for full execution of the order is from 2 to 4 months. The imported staircase at the SM-Kvadrat firm will be ready in two months, and the Russian one in a month.

    It is, of course, interesting to know how firms deal with clients. I must say that everything is well thought out and you (and naturally, your desires and requirements) will be treated very carefully. First, you choose the model you like in the showroom or from the catalog. Then the calculation of the project begins, which we talked about above. Measurers from the company visit the client to take the required measurements. After the approval of the project, it is sent to the factory, where the staircase is made taking into account all the nuances. The final stage – installers install the stairs at the customer’s house.

    The price of a ladder is usually calculated for 1 m of height. So keep this in mind when talking to sellers. By the most conservative estimates, a ladder of medium size, with a good design, if you order it from a firm, will cost about $ 7,000. Everything else depends on your wishes. But on the other hand, you see, a good staircase is a work of art. And, like any masterpiece, it can be expensive, sometimes over $ 20,000.

    Summing up, we recommend that you take your time and think carefully about all the little things. And one more nuance: the staircase in the house is installed after all construction and finishing work has been completed. This is the finishing touch. But perhaps the most important.

    Useful Tips

    The convenience and safety of descending and climbing stairs will ensure that you follow these simple recommendations.

  • The angle of inclination of a stationary ladder should not exceed 45 °, otherwise it will be too steep. This rule does not apply to screw structures..
  • Choose comfortable wide rungs. If they are made of slippery materials (metal, stone, tiles), it is advisable to make overlays on top of materials with an increased coefficient of friction (wood, rubber, carpet, special “rough” tiles).
  • The steeper the climb, the more attention needs to be paid to the railings, making them wide and strong..
  • Pay attention to the location and size of the landings between the flights of stairs. It is necessary that an adult can fit in full height and easily turn around on the site.
  • It is unwise to make a narrow decorative spiral staircase in a house where the owners are distinguished by their large physique and considerable weight.
  • If there are animals in the house, be prepared for the fact that the priceless tree may be scratched, and the carpet, carefully spread on the steps, will rub in some places. Consider all this when choosing a stair material.
  • If there is a small child in the house, it is wise to purchase a self-closing staircase door.
  • In any case, do not forget: the stairs are designed for people to walk on it – often, a lot and without harming their health.

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