Staircase Buying Guide

Designing Your Staircase

When it comes to designing a staircase certain things need to be taken into consideration. If you can do the following in order, it can help to filter all the ideas into a workable option. Below we have started with the practical and functional aspects of designing a staircase as this is the best approach when starting from scratch. Workable option, then how you’d like to finish the staircase.

If you have already had an architect or builder measure out the staircase you need, or you want to get immersed in the aesthetic of your staircase first, then you can skip down to the Staircase Finishing section which will help get your imagination going.

  1. What is the workable space? This means what is the height (finished floor to finished floor height), width, depth of the stairwell opening.
  2. Are there any doors, under-stairs space, or other such obstructions which could affect the available space?
  3. All things considered, does the workable space meet building regulations?

A few tips on the pointers above…

  1. Identifying the workable space can be tricky, unless you have already had it mapped out by an architect or even yourself. We find it useful to visualise the area and the staircase in your mind, and then add to that with some measurements, simple drawings, and then give it time. If you are ordering a styaircase

Once you consider the above you can then begin to look at design options, such as in our gallery or gain inspiration from other sources to get a feel for what you would like to see in your house.

Once you have an idea of the orientation and direction of your stairs then go to our online stairs designer which will help you to get your vision on paper and on the screen. You can then download, print, and share with friends and family to help in your decision making process.

Finding a workable staircase solution

The Ideal Stairs Width

This is one of the more common questions and the answer is – unless affected by regulations or actual space- personal preference. We would recommend somewhere between 800-1000 in general, as a rule of thumb.

Stairs Orientation

If you have enough unaffected opening space the width of a stair between 800-900 is a good guide to use. This will give you enough room to feel comfortable walking up and down the stairs and give ample foot space (thread) on an easy-to-manage step height (rise).

Block of Winders or Landing

If space is tight a block of winders or landing may be required. Our online stairs designer will help you to work this out.

In general, any width under 750mm begins to cause some issues and we would suggest you speak to a member of our design team here.


Our advice would be to leave at least 50mm tolerance on the width of your stairs to allow for handrail and the hand holding the handrail. The Width(W) value entered in our staircase designer will take this into account, this value is the total width of your staircase including the balustrade etc, so be sure to measure the width with this in mind. This is unless the stairs will be built between two walls with no balustrade.

Too Wide?

Try to keep below 1000 unless you have a really big space and hallway. Building regulations may impinge on your ideas for a staircase above 1000. If you are certain you want to go wider than 1000, we suggest you contact a member of our design team here.


A balustrade is a combination of handrails and either a type of spindle or glass. It serves a design function and a safety function. Regulations play a role in the choice of your balustrade and the following are some of the key considerations in domestic builds.


Other Points to consider


A handrail must sit between 900-1000 from the top of the step or from the floor in the case of a landing balustrade.


Regulations dictate that there can be no larger than a 99m space between spindles. This is based on the logic that a baby’s head is roughly 100mm and if the gap is 100mm or greater this becomes a risk to children.

Stairs Width

If you choose a stairs above 1000 in width a handrail (balustrade) is required on both sides of the stairs.
Choosing a Balustrade Design
This is a personal choice based on preference and price. Glass and steel are generally the more expensive options when it comes to Balustrade design


Staircase Finishing

Spindles & Newel Posts


Spindles & newel posts as standard are a classic square design. This is a popular choice in 2022 (as it was in 2021) as customers look to achieve a minimal clean look at an affordable price.

Stop Chamfered

Spindles & Newels with a chamfered central space. Classic square design with a chamfered or beveled portion of the spindle/newel body. This is a popular choice for those who want something simple and effective, with a small amount of detailing.

Rope / Turned

A more traditional spindle and still a common choice amongst customers. Comes in at a slightly higher price point than square or stop chamfered options but has proved itself a timeless and elegant option.

Materials and Finishing


We generally make our staircases out of Pine, MDF and Oak, all from FSC certified forests. We can use other woods should you require, but unless you’re looking for the specific tone given by a specific type of wood, we recommend going with the standard materials we use. Pine is very light, as is the White Oak we use, so they can be stained to achieve most colour and tone requirements, and between them they have the classic wood texture/grain covered, if that’s what you’re looking for.


We don’t offer painting service at Fifty Seven Stairs, but we know that many customers request their staircase be made from easily painted materials. In this case we recommend using MDF throughout the staircase construction. MDF is very strong, cheaper than non-composite woods, and it is very easily painted as the paint takes to it very well.


Glass has become more popular in the last two years. It helps to open up a house and compliments any house. We suggest toughened glass (8mm) and have different options of how to hold in place. It can be clamped in with chrome fixings or it can be fitted directly into the timber handrail and string cap. All options are available to view and price on our online stairs designer and with our design team


Steel spindles come in a variety of designs. A classic design is a light, narrow, square steel spindle. It compliments an Oak staircase incredibly well and is a good option to add an extra element to your stairs.