Q Do I need Building Control approval for a new or replacement staircase?
A The staircase you choose for your project will need to conform to the current Building Regulations and the Buyer is responsible for ensuring that the staircase is assembled and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and that the installation complies with relevant Building Regulations and Planning Laws. (Find out more about the UK regulations by clicking here where you’ll find some useful downloads.)
However, interpretations of the regulations do vary around the UK and may also be adapted to your property and project. All of the stairs in our range have been installed by customers with the approval of their local Building Control Department – but we cannot guarantee this for every case or project. If you want to reassure yourself of the regulations for your project, please contact your local Building Control Department for advice.
Q Can I use the paddle-shaped/spacesaver staircase as my main stair in my home?
A Building Regs only allow the use of the alternate or paddle-shaped staircase to access a single room in a loft conversion. If you are accessing more than one bedroom or, if it is your main staircase, you would need to use a regular (linear or modular) staircase. It is always best to discuss your project with your local Building Control Department if you are considering using the alternate tread staircase. You can find out more for yourself if you download a copy of the Building Regulations Approved Document Part K HERE.
Q How easy are the DIY staircases to install? How long does it take?
A The DIY staircase kits are designed for straight forward installation and are supplied with full installation instructions and most models have an instruction DVD.
They can be fitted by a competent person with the correct tools, usually within 1 to 2 days.
But PLEASE – read the instructions first!
Q Other websites say that the standard spiral kit with 13 risers will suit a floor height of up to 3.05m, but your website says the maximum floor height is 2.86m. Why is this?
A Most of the kit stairs are made in Italy and they are made to suit the regulations for the rest of Europe – which are different from the regs in the UK. This is why the stairs are designed to be installed with an adjustable tread rise but the maximum tread rise for the kit stairs is higher than allowed in the UK.
Q What are the UK Building Regulations requirements for linear & modular stairs?
A Linear or Modular stairs come under the Building Regulations Approved Document Part K (see the Knowledge Centre Page for more info) which requires a certain range of tread rises and goings as summarised below:
Maximum tread rise 220mm
Minimum tread going 220mm
Maximum pitch of stair 42º (this would be achieved by a lower tread rise combined with a deeper tread than the minimum requirement)
Maximum headroom 2000mm (for loft access this might be reduced to 1800mm)
Maximum gap between spindles and between open treads 99mm
Height of handrail on staircase 900mm minimum
There is no recommended minimum tread width for linear staircases for domestic use (although in practice it is generally considered that 600mm should be the minimum)
Height of interior balustrading on edge of upper floor stairwell in a domestic property 900mm
Height of exterior balustrading on edge of balcony etc in a domestic property 1100mm
Height of interior balustrading on edge of upper floor in a commercial property 1100mm
Q What are the UK Building Regulations for Spacesaver Stairs?
A Spacesaver or alternate tread staircases are covered in Building Regulations Approved Document Part K (see extract download on the Knowledge Centre Page). They should only be used to access a single room, such as a bedroom in a loft conversion, and only if there is insufficient space for a standard staircase. They should be in a straight flight, with a maximum tread rise of 220mm, minimum tread going of 220mm and with a handrail on both sides. For the kit spacesaver stairs, this usually means the matching staircase balustrading on one side and a simple wall mounted handrail on the other side, or matching staircase balustrading for the second side if preferred. Because of the format of the treads, the spacesaver staircase will be steeper than a standard staircase, usually about 62º. Again, there is no minimum tread width but it is usually between about 500-600mm. The spacesaver should still try to comply with the 100mm gap rule and riserbars are often chosen for this reason.
We have learnt from experience that it is pretty important, if you are considering using a spacesaver stair, to discuss this with your local Building Control Officer before committing to purchase as their opinions on the suitability of these staircases and their interpretation of the regulations vary enormously around the UK.
Q Are the regulations the same in Scotland?
A Generally speaking, you would need to comply with the British Standard BS5395 Part 2 for spiral staircases in Scotland. For linear/modular or spacesaver staircase compliance, the guidance is taken from Part S and you can download a copy HERE.
Q Can I paint any of the Galvanised Spiral Staircase models?
A The galvanised zinc spiral has a slightly shiny, metallic look when new and this will oxidise to a dull grey over time. It is possible to paint it, although this is not recommended by the manufacturer. If you decide to paint it, you should allow the staircase to weather for 12 months approx, then remove the oxidation, apply two coats of metal primer and two top coats. If the staircase is painted, it will need to be monitored and maintained and any scratches or chips will need to be repainted.
Q What size is the concrete pad which we would need underneath the exterior spiral staircase?
A We would suggest that you consider a concrete pad which is the same diameter as your spiral staircase. This will make sure that it supports the base plate plus the fixing point for the leading baluster spindle on the first tread. You may need to take local advice for the depth of the concrete pad to take local climate and frost conditions into account.
Q How do we fix the base plate of the stairs?
A If you need to fix the base plate on to a timber floor, it would be best to replace the concrete molly anchors for similar sized lag bolts, using a drill of the appropriate size.
Q We will be having underfloor heating/floating floor. How should we deal with this?
A You will have realised that you can’t install the staircase directly over the top of underfloor heating and will need to leave the heating pipes/elements clear of the staircase area. Apart from the base fixing plate, many of the staircases also require a fixing point for the leading baluster spindle on the first tread, or for the support post below the linear staircases.
If you have a floating floor, it would be best to build a concrete pad to support the fixing point for the base plate of the staircase.
Q What choice of landing tread is there for the spiral stairs?
A The kit spiral staircases have a triangular landing tread which will fit into a circular or square ceiling opening and there are no other options. The spiral staircases with timber treads have landing treads which are supplied oversized so that they can be trimmed down for a circular opening. The spiral staircases with steel treads have a universal landing tread which can be used for circular or square ceiling openings.
In addition, the Oak70 Spiral Staircase has a universal landing tread which can be cut to fit square or round openings or in a trapezoidal format, making it particularly adaptable.
Q Can we choose a different finish on the treads?
A The kit stairs are produced in high volumes using the latest, most streamlined and high tech production processes and are only available with the standard choices – the treads are solid beech stained with a Natural Beech (a light finish) or Beech Light Chestnut (a dark finish), or solid Oak with a varnished finish. There is no option for any alternative to this at the moment.
Q How do we clean the timber treads?
A Don’t use cleaning products containing silicon oils e.g. furniture polish or dust repellent sprays, as they will create a film on the treads which could make them slippery. It is better to use a clean, soft cloth lightly moistened with water to wipe the treads clean.
To clean the polyurethane handrail, use products which are suitable for cleaning plastic e.g. products designed for cleaning car dashboards.
Q What is the warranty on the staircases?
A The warranty period for the Ehleva and Arkè (Fontanot) staircase products is 2 years. However, Fontanot offer an additional one year warranty if you register your product with them.
Q What size opening should we have for a spiral staircase?
A The opening in the ceiling to take the upper section of the spiral staircase should, ideally, be 100mm larger than the diameter of the spiral stair. This is to enable you to use the handrail safely as it rises up through the opening in the ceiling/floor. It is possible to reduce this to 50mm but this would require very accurate placing of the staircase to allow for room for use of the handrail in the correct part of the staircase.
Q What size opening should we have for a modular/linear staircase?
A It’s always best to refer to the manufacturer’s configuration diagrams which you will find throughout this website to make sure that your chosen staircase will fit your space. Generally speaking, the best guide is to have the opening in the ceiling the same size as the staircase itself to ensure that there are no problems with low headroom.
Q What are the UK Building Regulations requirements for spiral stairs?
A There is a British Standard for spiral staircase design and manufacture – BS5395 Part 2 1984 which defines the overall diameter and the tread size/shape for specific uses. Click on the link on the Knowledge Centre Page to download a simple table which will tell you what size you’ll need for your project. In general terms, if you are accessing a single bedroom as in a loft conversion, this would require a clear tread width of 600mm which would mean the 1600mm diameter. If your spiral will be your main staircase, accessing more than one bedroom or accessing your living room in an “upside-down” house, the clear tread width should be 800mm which would mean a spiral staircase with a diameter of 1830mm to 2000mm or more – which would not be available in a kit format.
All staircases need to comply with the Building Regulations Approved Document Part K (see the main Knowledge Centre page) which also requires that, in your home or a property which is likely to be used by children, there should be no gap between the open treads or between the spindles on the balustrade which is more than 100mm to stop children under 5 years old injuring themselves. This is why we offer the riserbars as an accessory as this will put one horizontal bar, matching your staircase, between the open treads to effectively cut the gap down to less than 100mm, and these are available on all staircases. Most of the vertical balustrading spindles on our staircases will also comply with this requirement. It is also required that the balustrading must not be climbable and, for this reason, many Building Control Officers are reluctant to approve the style of balustrading with the horizontal rails or cables, such as the Vogue or Kloe Spiral or the Vector or Komoda Linear staircases. However attitudes are changing and your local Building Control Officer may have a more open mind about the style of staircase you are interested in.
We would always suggest that you discuss this aspect of your chosen staircase with your local Building Control Officer before committing to purchase.