We need to encourage new ideas in staircases today more for the green sense they make, says architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi
The idea of steel staircase in residential interiors originated not so much from eco and green considerations, but as minimalist, new age, style statement. While these are slowly catching up in urban centres, most small town contractors and fabricators are yet to wake up to these options. Though complicated at first appearance, in reality these are so simple and replicable that any fabricator can keep repeating them. However, we need to promote these new ideas today more for the green sense such stairs make!
With M.S. members
While running M.S. members on two sides is generally safe, one central string beam is also possible. The stringer beam needs to be of higher gauge and size, since all the weight falls on this beam. In case of longer spans or lesser support points, there could be two stringer beams within the width of the stairs.
These stairs without the side beams tend to slightly vibrate when people walk with heavy foot, but there is no need to worry. These vibrations happen also because the frame of each step gets lesser welding points.
Look for professionalism
Often it may be difficult to get every stairs structurally designed by a qualified engineer. Most contractors on such occasions place heavy sections by guess work. Doing such un-professional work with unnecessary material will defeat the purpose by consuming more material and becoming costly.
As such, the first time one works, it is advisable to get all design details and only then proceed with steel stairs. The frames should not be placed too close to the wall, such that no mason can work within the gap. The contractor on the job can decide the gap needed as per the case.
On-site fabrication tends to damage the materials around due to high heat and electric sparks. In case of exposed bricks and stones being used for the walls next to stairs, they have to be adequately covered up. There have been some cases where the riser member needed to be covered up as desired by the users. This can be easily done with or without additional steel members, depending upon the material to be used for the riser, like wood or stone.
Among the major myths about steel stairs is the belief that they do not appear grand. With the fabrication technology available today, we can have them straight, curved, in marble, stainless steel, glass and in all such variety. The complete stairs can be in steel plates; treads can be supported by angles from walls with no long beams at all; every step individually cantilevered from the wall as simple slabs where we see no beams, no risers and not even visible steel.
Though we may not feel like spending upon a fancy staircase, it being the less observed and remembered part of a house visit, steel offers an opportunity to design the staircase in any fancy shape and form.
(The writer is an architect working for eco-friendly designs and can be contacted at email@example.com)