While we’re busy changing kitchen and living rooms, turning them into open planned living spaces, it’s easy to forget the rest of our homes. Staircases are often overlooked, but should be consistent with the rest of the interior, especially if you’ve decided to open up your living areas.
Most people might think it’s impossible to change their old staircases, but a makeover isn’t as difficult as it seems. In fact, designer staircases, and especially floating staircases, might be our next home improvement fascination, as these not only work with open plan living spaces, but they also give you extra ( storage) space, as well as light, too.
Of course, for those that can’t afford this renovation quite yet, you can always start off by changing your handrail and spindles. Old staircase carcasses can be converted in just a couple of days to give off a ‘floating effect’ and such simple projects can be relatively cheap, at around £850.
So what is a floating staircase and what does it take to install one? Actually, floating staircases should more accurately be called cantilevered staircases. The staircase treads are given support by using a cantilever fixing at the end of each step, which give the ‘floating’ effect. Although it’s a simple style, floating staircases are complicated because the treads need to carry all the weight. This means that they need a strong attachment and the treads need to be very sturdy. The wall to which you attach the treads, should be solid and at least 100mm thick for support. For wood treads you need a solid brick wall, which might also have to be reinforced with a metal sheet.
To be on the safe side you should hire an architect to ensure that your wall is robust enough to take the weight.
Floating stairs cost
Floating staircases aren’t the cheapest renovation project, but there are ways to save money. Wood, metal or glass treads are less expensive for instance than marble and stone. Some staircases can have lighting attached underneath or on the side of the treads to highlight the structure, and this will add to the cost too. Depending on what structure you opt for, curved stairs, straight stairs or spiral staircases, the price will differ as well. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, you should go for a cantilevered staircase with a metal frame, solid treads and a low rising. A floating staircase can come in at anything between £20,000 to £80,000, depending on your preferences.
Depending on your preference for safety, you can attach glass balustrades and railings to the staircase, or just leave the treads as they are. The latter option, will give the illusion of more space and light. However, should you have children or people with reduced mobility in the house, railings should be prioritised. Since there are regulations covering the distance between treads, overall dimensions and the placement of handrails (if you decide to go for a less daring structure), you should always consult a specialist tradesman who has completed projects like these in the past.
Floating stairs design
A floating staircase might be an attractive architectural feature in a designer house, but to appeal to the public mass, it needs to fill a function too. The main benefit with installing such a minimalist structure, is the sudden gift of space. It would be a shame not to utilise this in clever ways, relieving other cluttered areas of your home. Stair accessories such as hangers and shelves are ideal for hallways, whereas dedicated (and built-in) understair areas could be used in open planned living rooms as bookshelves and for kitchen item storage.
The fact is that at such a high installation cost a floating staircase need to be multi-tasking in order to be justifiable – otherwise we’ll never see the back of that old Victorian staircase.
Interested in making over your old staircase? Get expert advice from one of our qualified and approved builders about giving your old staircase a new lease of life.