Steps of reliability

STATE OF AFFAIRS: It can be spiral, straight, curve or any shapes.  

STAIRCASES DO not commonly attract the same kind of attention that doors and windows do in buildings. But they are a necessity if a building has two or more storeys.

Lifts may be the order of the day, but in States such as Kerala where power cuts are frequent, a staircase may prove to be the best option. Staircases consist of balusters and handrails, apart from a vertical bar fixed at the edge of the first step. The upright or round bars touching the steps are balusters. On top of it comes the handrail, which completes the structure of a staircase.

Staircases may be of various shapes - spiral, straight, curved or any of several other shapes, created to suit the circumstances.

Spiral staircases, supported by a central pole are used in places where the space is limited.

Stairs are so planned to make the best utilisation of space.

Considering a house in the city is constructed on four to eight cents of land in most cases, space utilisation is essential. Space below the stairs is commonly used for lighting lamps or creating cupboards or toilets.

Vasthu also recommends that prayer halls, cupboards, etc. be avoided below the staircase.

Handrails complete the picture of a staircase along with balusters and newels. One end of the handrail is normally fixed to a wall. The materials used can be wood, aluminium or steel. Handrails are normally positioned three to three-and-a-half feet high from the step level.

It is the style of the balusters that contributes mainly to the looks of a staircase, which makes the material and design chosen for the balusters important. Vertical balusters, when thin, can be one or two per step. The gaps between the balusters should be less for better safety.

Cast iron, wood and aluminium are commonly used for balusters. Intricate patterns are best avoided, to keep the balusters free from dust. Though they may look appealing, keeping them clean all the time is tough.

The height requirement of the steps varies from person to person. The common standard is a height of 16.6 cm to 16.8 cm for each step. But, for the elderly, kids or the unwell, 15 cm is fine.

Readymade cast iron staircases, which include the steps, are available in the market. They are strong and durable. Being cast iron, there is no corrosion. The only disadvantage is that old people might find it difficult to climb them. They also cost slightly more than an ordinary staircase.

Polymer concrete is used for outside steps, as they do not tend to get slippery when exposed to rain. They are not used inside the buildings.

The location of the staircase is of prime importance.

Staircase can be used as a room divider. It can be positioned in such a way that it is seen from the drawing room.