Save space: folding and spiral staircases

Not every home has room for a full-size staircase to the attic or basement, or an additional flight of stairs between residential floors. However, even in very tight spaces, the stairs shown on this and this page will fit..

A folding ladder descends from the ceiling to provide access to the attic, and when folded, hides under a hatch cover. A spiral staircase not only gives a special character to the house, but also takes up less space than a regular staircase. Folding ladders are made from aluminum or wood and are sold at department stores and building materials stores. Most often, the design of a folding ladder on hinges is used, which can be folded “in an accordion” and hidden behind the hatch cover to the attic. Ladders of other designs fold up like a telescopic antenna. Spiral staircases made of hardwood, cast iron, aluminum or steel staircases are available as sets by woodworkers and stair manufacturers. For the installation of both folding and spiral staircases, a stairway must be made in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Sometimes the ladder can be installed without any alteration of the existing opening. If this fails, you will have to arrange a new opening or expand the existing one – the work must be done approximately the same. If a beam passes through the hole, it must be cut and the crossbeams installed.

Before ordering a foldable ladder, make sure that there is sufficient plan and top space for the model you wish to purchase. The horizontal space required to disassemble and assemble the ladder is measured on the floor. There should also be enough space at the top for the folded ladder, taking into account the fasteners and handrails, if any. When ordering a spiral staircase, a few more measurements are required. First, determine the diameter and location of the staircase that will best fit into the floor plans. Kits are available for assembling spiral staircases of various diameters, ranging from 915 to 2440 mm, however, it is not recommended to install a staircase with a minimum diameter, since it is difficult to carry even a small object along a staircase with a diameter of less than 1220 mm. Determine on the floor plans the most convenient places to enter and exit the stairs, as well as the direction of rotation – clockwise or counterclockwise. Discuss the project with a building supervision specialist so that building codes are not violated.

When ordering a spiral staircase, you must also accurately indicate the height of the staircase from the floor level of the lower floor to the floor level of the upper floor, taking into account the floor covering. To improve the measurement accuracy, drill a 3 mm hole in the upper floor ceiling, pass the plumb line through it and attach a weight to the end of the cord. Lower the plumb line to the floor and measure the length of the cord. Draw a drawing to attach to your order. Indicate in it the diameter and height of the stairs, the preferred direction of exit and entrance on each floor, the location of walls and other obstacles next to the stairs. The ladder manufacturer will help you determine the number of rungs for a full spiral (360 °) or for a three-quarter turn (270 °); instructions for installing and assembling the ladder are included in the kit. If the staircase will rest on a plank floor, double the thickness of the beam under the center rod of the staircase. If the center bar is between the beams, double the thickness of the beams on each side.

Folding ladder installation

1. Attaching the ladder. After cutting the beams and preparing the opening, install the folding ladder in the opening. Unfold the top section of the ladder, then attach the ladder frame to the longitudinal or crossbeams with 75mm # 12 screws or 100mm nails.

To hold the ladder in place while drilling and screwing in the screws, nail in two 50 x 50 mm slats of the appropriate length, to which you attach the bottom of the ladder frame.

2. Adjusting the height of the stairs. Unfold the middle section of the ladder and, taking into account the angle of inclination of the ladder, measure the distances from the front and rear edge of the middle section to the floor. Mark the obtained dimensions on the lower section, without confusing the dimensions, and draw lines between the marks, along which you then saw off the lower part. Handle the chamfers with a plane.

Spiral staircase

Anatomy of a spiral staircase. This typical metal ladder, available as an assembly kit, consists of a center bar mounted on a thrust flange and 12 rungs attached to the bar. The outer edges of the steps are supported by handrail posts. A spiral handrail connects the racks; the staircase ends with a platform and its fence. The center bar ends with a decorative top.

Assembly and installation of a spiral staircase

1. Determining the location for the installation of the central rod. Pull the two diagonal cords in the stairwell. Lower the plumb line from the intersection of these diagonals and ask the assistant to mark the point on the floor where the plumb line touches the floor.

2. Installing the thrust flange. Position the flange so that its center is at the marked point. Have a second person hold the flange and drill pilot holes through the flange mounting holes. Attach the flange with the screws supplied with the ladder. If the floor is concrete, drill holes in the floor with a carbide drill, drive in dowels and screw in the screws..

3. Installing the center bar. Determine the exact position of the first step on the floor according to the ladder manufacturer’s drawing, then slide the step with the fence post mounted on it onto the stop flange. With the help of a partner, insert the center rod into the first stage and into the flange. Check the verticality of the rod with a spirit level.

4. Installation of steps. With the help of a buddy at the top, slide the second step onto the rod and lower it down. Insert the second strut into the second and first stages, screw the nut under the first stage and hand tighten. Install the rest of the steps and railing posts in the same way..

5. Installation of the landing. After installing all the steps and railing posts, slide the platform onto the rod. Check the verticality of the staircase and the location of the landing in the same level with the floor, then fasten the platform to the side walls of the staircase with the screws supplied. Attach the platform fence with the screws also included.

6. Installing the handrail. Position the handrail so that the screw holes line up with the holes in the posts and install the supplied screws. Tighten all nuts with an adjustable wrench starting from the bottom. And at the end of the work, install the decorative top.

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