Different Types of Stairs | Materials Used to Build a Staircase

In this article, we will explore and discuss the various types of stairs commonly found in buildings. Stairs are a fundamental architectural feature that not only provide functional access between different levels but also contribute to the overall design and aesthetic appeal of a space.

By understanding the different types of stairs, you can make informed decisions when it comes to selecting the right style for your specific needs and preferences.

What is Stairs?

Stairs, also known as staircases, are structures consisting of a series of steps or risers that provide a means of vertical access between different levels or floors within a building or outdoor space. They serve as a fundamental architectural element, enabling people to move up or down between different elevations.

A staircase is a significant structural component since it allows access to the various floors as well as the roof. It consists of a set of stairs and one or more intermediate landing slabs between floor levels.

Staircases could be designed with an almost endless number of various forms and styles to best fit the space, functionality, and aesthetics of any project. Distinct styles of stair designs have different visual appearances as well as take up different amounts of space. Most types of staircases are more popular in homes, while others are more common in commercial and industrial environments.

Stairs' Primary Functions are:

  • Make it possible to move from one floor to another.
  • Provide a safe way out in case of a fire.
  • It provides a safe way to navigate between floors.
  • Provide a way for fixtures and equipment to be transported between floor levels.
  • Provide some insulation when used as part of a building’s compartment separation component

Types of Stairs

Stairs come in various types and designs, each suited for specific purposes and aesthetic preferences. Here are some common types of stairs:

Straight Stairs

These are the stairs that have no direction changes between flights between two levels. 

The straight stairs can be

  • Straight runs with a single flight between floors.
  • A straight run with a series of flights in the same direction
  • Parallel stairs
  • Angle stairs
Straight stair

Advantages of Straight Stairs

  • Straight stairs require a significant amount of linear space, which must be included in your design. 
  • It requires a large open space or a high ceiling. 
  • A landing is required to break up the span of 12 feet of steps. Because the extension will take up a lot more space, these kinds of stairs are rarely employed in residential buildings. Large business structures will be seen more frequently.

Disadvantages of Straight Stairs

  • Straight stairs are the easiest to go up and down. 
  • Simple to construct
  • Only the top and bottom of straight stairs must be connected (there is no need for an intermediate supporting structure).
  • They do the same with minimalist-styled houses because of their inherent simplicity.
  • Straight stairs may be made more transparent than other types of steps by using thinner treads, open risers, and thin metal stringers. 
  • Railings and handrails for straight staircases are extremely simple to construct.

Straight stairs with intermediate landing

A landing is used to break up longer flights of steps. For floor heights of more than 12 feet, this is required by building codes. Straight stairs with platforms halfway up the course of the steps are common in commercial structures.

Types of Stairs | Straight stair with central landing

Advantages of Straight Stairs with Intermediate Landing

  • This type of staircase has the same basic advantages as straight steps without a landing, such as being easy to build and traverse.
  • The intermediate landing also serves as a resting spot for individuals going up and down the steps.

Disadvantages of Straight Stairs with Intermediate Landing

  • The main disadvantage of straight stairs with a landing in the middle is the amount of space needed.

Straight Stairs with Top Landing

This straight staircase has a landing at the top that extends all the way to the floor. The stairs can run parallel to the floor with a landing at the top, giving the stair design more freedom. 

Straight stairs with top landings are commonly used for industrial equipment access, mezzanine stairs, and loading dock steps in both commercial and residential structures.

Straight stair with top landing

Advantages of straight stairs with top landing

  • Allow the designer the option of positioning the stair flight parallel to the floor or extending out beyond the floor. 

Disadvantage of straight stairs with top landing

  • The extra landing comes at a cost over a simple straight staircase design.

L Shaped Stairs

The L-shaped staircase is a version of the straight staircase that has a curve in one section. A landing at the transition point is frequently used to accomplish this bent. It is common for the curve to be 90 degrees, although it does not have to be. When the landing is closer to the top or bottom of the stairs, it is referred to as a long L staircase or a quarter-turn staircase.

L-shape stairs

Advantages of L Shaped Stairs

  • The L-shaped stairs have a more fascinating aesthetic appeal. 
  • They enhance privacy by creating a visual barrier between levels. 
  • L-shaped stairs can help reduce sound transmission between floors if they are confined within walls.
  • Some people feel they are safer than straight stairs because the center landing minimizes the number of treads on which a person may fall in a single flight. 
  • While going up, the landing can be used as a rest break. 
  • If your design allows, they can be placed in a room’s corner.

Disadvantages of L Shaped Stairs

  • Building L-shaped stairs is a little more challenging than straight steps. 
  • At the landing of an L-shaped staircase, a support is usually required. This is frequently incorporated into the surrounding walls, making it unnoticeable. In newer homes, however, it is common to leave the stair construction visible to open up the room.
  • The supporting structure can be visibly reduced in these circumstances by utilizing steel’s strength to build slim supporting components. It is possible to eliminate the landing support entirely through proper engineering.

U Shaped Stairs

These types of stairs are made up of two parallel flights of straight steps connected by a landing that turns the walk line 180 degrees.

Types of Stairs | U-shape stair

Advantages of U Shaped Stairs

  • U-shaped stairs are less difficult to incorporate into an architectural design.
  • They’re architecturally interesting. 
  • The landing(s) can serve as a rest stop halfway up the stairs.

Disadvantages of U Shaped Stairs

  • These stair types are more difficult to construct than basic stair types.

Winder Stairs

Winder stairs are a version of an L-shaped staircase with pie-shaped or triangle steps at the corner transition instead of a flat landing. 

Types of Stairs | Winder stair

Advantages of Winder Stairs

  • In comparison to many other types of staircases, these steps take up a lot less room, which is beneficial in a home.
  • They also provide a lot of aesthetic appeal to the room. They meander around corners, creating a seamless, eye-pleasing transition.
  • These stairwells are very common in contemporary residences.
  • They are suitable for house design since they are both small and elegant. 

Disadvantages of Winder Stairs

  • These steps can be difficult to navigate, and adding a railing to them might be difficult.
  • They also need a lot of support from the center.

Spiral Stairs

These types of stairs have a helical arc. The treads normally radiate around a central pole, and they have a highly compact design.

Types of Stairs | Spiral stair

Advantages of Spiral Stairs

  • One of the main advantages of spiral staircases is that they may be used in tiny spaces. 
  • Spiral staircases may be appealing, and there are numerous railing types to choose from, each of which can have a significant impact on the overall appearance of the staircase.
  • Since the center pole and landing often provide structural support for the stairs, they don’t require as many additional support structures as other types of stairs, making construction easier.

Disadvantages of Spiral Stairs

  • Climbing spiral staircases is difficult. As a result, rules prohibit them from being utilized as the primary access to a complete second floor home. 
  • Carrying large items up spiral steps is difficult. 
  • At a time, only one person can move up and down the stairwell at a time.

Cantilever Stairs

The treads on cantilever stairs appear to be floating in the air with no support. The stair stringer can be concealed or visible and will be fastened to one end of the treads. Cantilever stairs give any area a sense of depth and spaciousness.

Types of Stairs | Cantilever stair

Advantages of Cantilever Stairs

  • Cantilever staircases are more visually appealing and distinctive than other types of stairs. 
  • The stringer is usually placed to one side or buried in the wall, allowing for extra headroom. 
  • Cantilever staircases make the space appear more open and spacious.

Disadvantages of Cantilever Stairs

  • The structure’s design must be considered in order to sustain the cantilever stairs. 
  • Tread supports must be able to withstand both the weight and the potential for torque.
  • Due to extra structural requirements, cantilever staircases are more expensive than standard mono-stringer stairs.

Crossover stairs

Crossover stairs and bridges provide access across barriers and impediments. 

Crossover stairs are commonly seen in industry applications and are great for accessing equipment and mezzanines as well as offering a passage across machinery, pipes, mechanical ducts, and other obstructions. Crossover stairs are really a great example of a steel stair design

Crossover stair

advantages of Crossover Stairs

  • Crossover stairs improve safety by reducing slips, falls, and accidents that happen frequently near ground-level barriers that should have a designated safe crossing point.
  • The majority of those crossing the stairs meet OSHA safety criteria.
  • Crossover stairs’ modular design allows for easy access to any location. 
  • Pre-engineered and modular crossover stairs may be produced in less time when compared to welded alternatives.

Disadvantages of Crossover Stairs

  • Crossover stairs, like any other staircase, require proper installation space, which may not be available in space-constrained industrial buildings.


Ladders can be used to obtain access, just like staircases. Ladders, on the other hand, are not permitted to be used as the principal means of entry under construction rules.

Advantages of Ladder Staircase

  • Using a ladder is the most compact way to move from one floor to another.
  • Due to their basic design, they are incredibly cost-effective. 
  • When not in use, ladders with wheels or that fold up can be used to move them out of the way or limit access.
  • They can be used to reach shelves that are otherwise out of reach.

Disadvantages of a Ladder Staircase

  • Ladders are more difficult to use than steps, particularly when descending.
  • Ladders should never be used as the main stairway.

Materials Used to Build a Staircase

Staircases can be constructed using a variety of materials, depending on factors such as structural requirements, design preferences, durability, and budget. Here are some common materials used to build staircases:


Wood is a classic and versatile material for staircases. It offers a warm and traditional look and can be crafted in various styles. Popular wood choices include oak, maple, mahogany, and walnut.


Concrete is a durable and sturdy material often used in modern and industrial-style staircases. It can be poured and molded into various shapes and finishes, such as polished concrete or textured surfaces.


Metal staircases provide a sleek and contemporary aesthetic. Materials like steel, iron, or aluminum are commonly used for the framework, supports, and balusters. Metal stairs can be combined with other materials like wood or glass for a unique look.


Glass staircases create a modern and sophisticated appearance, allowing light to flow through the space and enhancing the sense of openness. Tempered or laminated glass is used for the treads, balustrades, or as part of the railing system.


Stone, such as marble, granite, or limestone, can be used for both the steps and the supporting structure of a staircase. Stone stairs add an elegant and luxurious touch to interiors and exteriors.


Brick stairs are commonly seen in outdoor applications. They provide a rustic and charming look, blending well with traditional or country-style architecture.


Tiles can be used to cover the steps of a staircase, offering a wide range of design possibilities. Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles are popular choices for staircases.

Laminate or Engineered Wood

These materials offer a cost-effective alternative to solid wood. They consist of composite layers with a wood veneer or laminate finish, providing a durable and visually appealing option.


Bamboo is an eco-friendly and sustainable material that can be used for both the steps and the railing of a staircase. It offers a unique and contemporary look.