As an architectural element of the entrance space of a building, the external staircase is a link in its functional scheme, contributes to the accentuation of the entrance, serves as a compositional link between the external (exterior) and internal (interior) space, communicates the architectural volume with the surrounding landscape, and is able not only to emphasize the overall style solution at home, but also to give its artistic image originality and harmonious completeness.
When building a modern house, it is almost impossible to do without the construction of an external staircase, especially if the area adjacent to the house has differences in height. And the entrance to the house very often involves the presence of a flight of stairs (albeit small) outside the house. Such an external staircase with accompanying elements (a platform in front of the entrance to the house, a canopy or a canopy above it, a railing, etc.) is also called an entrance staircase or porch.
External staircases can also connect different levels (floors) of the house, for example, in accordance with the architectural concept. And for utilitarian purposes, firefighters, evacuation, utility stairs located also outside the building are intended.
Just as the internal stairs in the house connect different levels located above each other and one next to the other for convenient and reliable communication between them, so the external stairs located at the entrance to the house cover the difference between the level of the area surrounding the house and the floor line in the dwelling.
The division of external stairs into groups can be based on the difference in the shape of the site, which is surrounded by the steps (in contrast to interior stairs, the shape of which is most often determined by the vertical planes that form the staircase space). The shape of the site determines the shape of the march, and vice versa.
There are the following forms of sites: square, rectangular, faceted, semicircular or semi-oval, curved.
Marches in their outlines are rectilinear and curved. Ladders with curved flights (with winding steps) are subdivided into one-flight and two-flight. There are also outdoor stairs with a combination of straight and curved marches..
According to the relative position of the marches, the external stairs are subdivided into marches going: towards one another; in opposite directions; at right angles to one another; at any angle to one another; in parallel directions.
In relation to the plane of the facade the classification of the formation of these stairs is as follows: profile; frontal; frontal-profile.
Outdoor staircase – one of the most important elements of the building’s appearance, and in addition to its main functional purpose as a communication link, it serves as a decorative element that partially forms the building’s external appearance. A successfully or unsuccessfully conceived and executed staircase is able in the first case to emphasize the talent of the architect, the skill of the builder, the taste and individuality of the owner, and in the second, the absence of at least one of these advantages.
Depending on the degree of inclusion of stairs in the composition of the building, the organic nature of their relationship is determined. This organicity is due to the unity of the general compositional idea underlying the architectural structure. In the architectural and artistic composition of the building, staircases perform volumetric plastic or spatial functions. They either belong to the building as a closed organism, or expand the sphere of the building’s spatial influence..
With a deep composition, the stairs acquire signs of spatial organization. With a frontal composition of a building, external stairs should be two-dimensional – plane. The environment of the natural environment (relief, climate, vegetation, surrounding buildings) dictates the spatial character and compositional and artistic theme of the entire structure.
In turn, the consistency of the character of the exterior and interior also ensures the organicness of perception, and the external staircase creates such a functional compositional unity, through the difference in levels, providing a person entering the house with a gradual transition from one space to another (the moment of transition of the view). Exterior stairs that adjoin the building make it easier to connect spaces.
The shape of the individual parts of the staircase may not express the essence of the style solution, but the totality, most of these details already determine the style orientation, to which, as a rule, the entire building gravitates. The volumetric-spatial or decorative-artistic concept of a particular stylistic era determines the system of building external stairs, as well as the nature of their individual parts.
In the best architectural examples of country houses, villas and mansions – both in the past and today – the importance of the central entrance was emphasized and emphasized by the external front staircase, the size, shape and location of which give a smooth visual transition from the volume of the building to the surrounding space.
External staircases on the rear facade facing the depths of the personal plot (into the garden) look less grand and solemn; after all, their main function is to serve as a connecting path between the living space of the house and the surrounding nature, to combine the house and the garden into a harmonious and holistic architectural and decorative uniformity, forming in a number of cases a functional and stylistic unity with garden stairs, ramps, terraces, retaining walls, parapets , descents to reservoirs and garden paths. All of the listed architectural forms are elements of architectural relief treatment; a flat landscape lacks a human scale, so such a scale can be created artificially.
In terms of proportions, external staircases for low-rise construction, in contrast to monumental ones, which have a different scale in relation to a person, practically do not differ from internal staircases. The ratio of the width of the tread and the height of the riser of the external staircase is also determined by generally accepted formulas (all of them are calculated based on the average step of a person). Differences between an external staircase and an internal staircase are mainly determined by the external conditions in which these stairs are located. The main feature of outdoor stairs is exposure to adverse weather conditions such as temperature changes, precipitation in the form of rain and snow, solar radiation, as well as seasonal mechanical ground vibrations. These influences can lead to deformations, and in extreme cases – to the destruction of the main structural elements of the stairs..
In this regard, when necessary, the use of protective coatings, additional waterproofing and structural reinforcement of the stairs are required..
Outdoor stairs are building structures. They must meet not only aesthetic requirements, but also certain technical standards, be comfortable and reliable, and ensure the safety of movement on them. The modern market of construction services is able to satisfy the most demanding requirements and allows high-quality and cost-effective implementation of any, even the most daring, construction concept: from a small country cottage to an impressive mansion. This fully applies to stairs..
The choice of material for their construction and design options can be quite varied and depends on many factors, ranging from the desire and financial capabilities of the customers (owners) of the house to the degree of imagination of the performer. Ladders can be made of any material, including reinforced concrete, natural and artificial stone, brick, metal, or a combination of two or more materials. Wood is used less often: to prevent decay, wood used in the manufacture of outdoor stairs must be treated with antiseptics; in addition to this, external wooden stairs are recommended to be painted with waterproof paints, and given the fire hazard – and impregnated with fire retardants (fire retardants).
The surface of the steps can be covered with decorative finishing materials. When choosing a cladding material, you should think about the safety of steps in cold or rainy seasons, preferring materials with a rough, anti-slip surface. Otherwise, ice or water on the surface of steps makes them slippery, impairing user safety and increasing the likelihood of falls and injury. For granite, marble, and other stone steps, there are methods of mechanical or thermal application of microroughnesses, there are also strips of special anti-slip (frictional) material attached to the edge of the step, and some external stairs are equipped with a heating device for melting ice.
In simple cases, when the entrance staircase is small, located near the wall and has no more than two steps, it is enough to release several rows of bricks or stones in the form of consoles from the wall to support these steps; if the entrance staircase consists of more than two steps and, in addition, has a platform, then a separate foundation for it is mandatory. Such foundations are made in the form of an independent support wall parallel to the walls of the building, or in the form of separate foundations perpendicular to the building, on which the steps and platforms are supported.
Fencing of external stairs is usually made either in the form of a solid massive wall, often of stone, processed according to the base of the building, or in the form of curly railings and balustrades.
Water drainage must be provided from all steps. In the simplest case, with a small staircase and a small number of steps, it is permissible to lay steps with a slight slope outward from the house, draining water directly along them. It is more rational to drain water through special trays, which are arranged near the side rails of the stairs. Such trays are arranged in the form of open or closed recesses in the steps with gratings. To collect water from the steps, the steps must be laid in the trays with appropriate slopes towards the tray. Water is discharged through trays into the storm sewer.
During the operation of external stairs as building structures, it is necessary to take measures to preserve them, repair them, eliminate defects and prevent their appearance. Depending on the design of the stairs, these measures may be different..
In staircases made of prefabricated stringers and steps, a breakdown of the mating points of these elements can occur: the places where the ends of the stringers rest on the strut beams, steps on the stringers, increased deformability of the stringers, the destruction of steps; in monolithic structures – cracks due to internal stresses, external overloads, or voids (cavities) formed during the manufacturing process. As a rule, defects of this kind can be easily detected with regular external examination and eliminated without delay in order to prevent further development of damage..
Ladder handrails must be securely fastened in steps by welding to embedded parts or by installing racks into recesses (nests) with concreting. The railings must be kept in good condition, they must not have potholes, chips that can cause injury. If a small child uses the ladder independently, it is advisable to install an additional auxiliary handrail at a convenient height for him.
Repair of chips and potholes in steps, restoration of anti-slip surfaces should also be done urgently. Wooden elements of stairs should be checked for rot, dryness, abrasion, and if necessary replaced.
Compliance with such simple but useful rules will save you from the hassle of replacing a rather complex structure in the future, and will allow the ladder to function properly for many years.