Most people don’t think twice before climbing up or down a set of stairs, but the truth is a lot of thought and careful consideration needs to go into how a set is designed in order to ensure they are safe. Stairs that are too steep or don’t give you enough space to place your feet (a surface known as “tread”) could potentially lead to slips or trips and falls, which often mean injury. The risk is even greater for outdoor stairs where water from rain could make stairs slippery and even more risky. On this blog, we’ll go over what need to be taken into consideration in order for a set of stairs to be safe so you can make good decisions when remodeling or resurfacing your stairs .
Anatomy of a Set of Stairs
A simple set of stairs isn’t too complicated. Think of stairs as the hypotenuse of a right triangle, with the horizontal length of the set of stairs being one side and how far up they climb being the other. Of course there are rounded or spiral stairs, but many of the principles are essentially the same.
Each step over the distance between the top and the bottom has two dimensions: rise (how far up each step climbs) and run (how far forward each step carries you). These measurements on each step are extremely important because going too large or too small on either one of them could lead to serious issues, both with construction and with injury risk.
If the rise between steps is too steep, climbing the stairs will not only be extra tiring, but the risk for serious injury also increases in the event of a trip and fall. Not to mention, those who already have trouble climbing an average set of stairs may not even be able to successfully get up a set of stairs with too steep of a rise. However, too small of a rise and you’ll have to stretch the staircase out horizontally to have enough stairs to get to the correct height, which adds a ton to your construction costs and may not even be possible.
If the run between steps is too small, those climbing the stairs won’t have enough space to get a proper foothold, and that means a significantly greater risk of tripping or slipping and falling, especially when going down that set of stairs (though up is also certainly dangerous). Too wide of a run presents a similar problem to having too low of a rise: your stairs will have to increase in number, which means the staircase will increase in horizontal length to the point where it’s more expensive and may not even be possible to construct given your location.
Building a Safe Set of Stairs
So you need to build a set of stairs, and you want to make sure it’s done properly. What should you do? The first step is to learn more about local building codes to learn what the minimums and maximums are for stair rise and run in order for your building to adhere to safety requirements. In California, the rise between stairs cannot be less than four inches and cannot be more than seven and a half inches. The run of each stair cannot be less than ten inches. As a result, California prefers that all staircases have an incline that measures between 30 and 37 degrees.
In addition, consistency between rises and is extremely important, as one step being significantly different from another is a huge trip-hazard for those going either up or down a set of stairs. California code says that the greatest rise cannot exceed the lowest rise and the largest run cannot exceed the shortest run by more than 3/8 of an inch.
The handrail that lines each set of stairs needs to be durable and capable of supporting a good amount of weight without buckling. The rail must be between 34 and 38 inches above the stair surface, measured from the furthest-forward point of each run, including any nosings. It’s strongly advised each rail have a minimum of four to six inches
Finally, there’s another parameter you need to consider, particularly on outdoor stairs: step surface. The surface of each step on a set of stairs should be constructed of a material that encourages grip, and when outdoors that means something that also needs to be durable and minimizes the impact that water can have on the surface. Many contractors will mix fine sand with the paint they coat the tops of these steps with and then use a durable sealant over this surface in order to prevent it from smoothing out or losing grip for as long as possible. Some people will even take things a step further and place a piece of high-visibility grip tape to make edges clearly visible.
Waterproofing a set of outdoor stairs also goes a long way to preserving them and preventing them from losing their structural integrity. Waterproofed stairs will last longer and be less prone to damage from the sun, rain, dew, and other elemental factors that are traditionally hard on anything left outside for long periods of time.
If you need your set of stairs waterproofed, call Capital Deck & Stair Waterproofing today at (310) 912-7737 to request a service estimate!
With the New Year rapidly approaching, you may be busy making your New Year resolutions and preparing to make transformations in your life. While your mind is on renewing old things and bringing them up to date, it’s important not to forget your home, and especially your deck.
In sunny California, the warm weather will be here sooner than you think, and it’ll be time for summer barbeques, splashing in the swimming pool, and spending long evenings on your deck. Why don’t you get a head start and schedule waterproofing services with our Los Angeles deck waterproofing professionals?
Waterproofing can help you refresh the look of a tired and worn out deck. It can also help you preserve your deck for many more years of enjoyment. Our waterproofing solutions are low-maintenance, which means less work and more fun for you. In addition to improving the look and safety of your home, a fresh coat of customized waterproofing can dramatically increase the value of your home or rental property.
We offer warrantied waterproofing service for:
- Garage floors
- Pool decks
- Walking decks
- Leisure decks
- Iron-based precast stairs
- Magnesite & fiberglass stairs
- Tread replacements
Your home’s safety, beauty, and upkeep are important to us. We offer a variety of resurfacing and waterproofing surfaces to help you maintain many surfaces around your property. All our waterproofing projects use superior materials to ensure that your deck is not only waterproof, but fire retardant and flexible to preserve your deck.
We offer custom blended colors at no additional cost, so your new waterproofing coat will blend seamlessly with your existing home and yard décor. We also work around your schedule, and we offer weekend and after-hours services to meet your needs. With multiple crews in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, we can offer quick, reliable service.
Get the advantage of more than 30 years of deck waterproofing experience for your home. Schedule a free estimate today , and one of our qualified waterproofing professionals will come to your home for an inspection.
Every part of your home should be a reflection of your personality and contribute to your vision of where you want to live, from the master bedroom and the living room to outside decks and patios. It is the outer portions of a home that are often overlooked, though, as people think a house is primarily what is on the inside. To truly create a home that fits exactly what you wanted, consider all the fine and forgotten details. In this blog entry, we discuss different types of outdoor stairs and how they can complement your deck .
Three outdoor stair designs that may interest you or complete your project perfectly are:
- Spiral stairs: If you do not have much space in your backyard, utilizing a spiral staircase can minimize the footprint of the entire design, allowing you to save deck space for other projects. Even space is not a concern, spiral stairs should still be considered when you want to add elegance to an outdoor deck, or perhaps complement circular designs throughout your home.
- Cascading stairs: When you have a large deck that you want to seamlessly blend into the surrounding yard, cascading stairs might be the way to go. Each step in a cascading staircase is generally quite shallow and broad, creating a look as if the deck is flowing, or cascading, down the ground. Cascading stairs are typically a finished wood, rather than metal or concrete, to further create the illusion that the naturally look of the yard is part of the deck.
- Traditional designs: A second-story deck for lounging or barbequing can look like the inside of a home has been placed on the outside. To complement this modern look, consider using a traditional staircase design that mimics the stairs you have inside your home. When constructed and finished correctly, this can really bring the look of an entire home together like none other.
Do you have questions about outdoor stair designs, installation, maintenance, or finishing? Capital Deck & Stair Waterproofing is here to help! Our Los Angeles stair waterproofing specialists have been working in the industry for more than 30 years, helping people with countless, complex deck and stair jobs for their homes and businesses. Contact us online to learn more about our services or to get a quote for your project.