An Introduction to Staircase Regulations in the UK

Below you’ll find our introductory guide to staircase regulations in the United Kingdom.

This page is not intended to replace the full building regulations document but highlights some of the key points for domestic staircase installations.

We’ll cover the following:

The information below relates to domestic staircase installations only. There are different rules for commercial buildings.

Replacing an Existing Staircase Like-For-Like

The good news is that the building regulations state that you can replace an existing staircase with an identical one even if it doesn’t meet the current regulations.

The new staircase must not be worse than the original (in terms of the regulations).

For example, if the original met the requirements for either structural, fire escape or for disabled access, then the original must also meet the requirements for that element.

Overall Maximum and Minimum Width, Height and Length

Surprisingly, there is no minimum width for a staircase although it should be practical and safe for a person to use. You should also consider how furniture will be transported upstairs.

The industry standard for stair widths is 860mm but it’s not uncommon to see stairs between 800mm-900mm.

Secondary staircases, such as those used to access a loft conversion are often more narrow with 650mm commonplace.

If the width of the staircase is over 1000mm an additional handrail should be installed, more about handrails further down this page.

The maximum height or length of a staircase is measured by the number of risers. Currently, the maximum number of risers allowed in a straight line is 36, after which there should be a change of direction of at least 30°.

Maximum length of staircase

Pitch of the Staircase

The maximum pitch of a domestic staircase is 42°.

Staircase pitch regulations

The Maximum Height and Length of Each Step

The length of each step is referred to as the “Going”.

The height is called a “Rise”.

Each step on the staircase should be the same height and length, you cannot have one step at 190mm and the next at 210mm.

You should also complete this simple calculation:

Double the rise, then add the going. The result should be between 550mm and 700mm.

Nosings

The minimum nosing for a domestic staircase is 16mm:

Handrail Height, Location and Specifics

A handrail is mandatory.

The location of the handrail should be between 900mm and 1000mm above the highest point on the staircase steps.

You do not need to place a handrail above the first two steps if you don’t want to.

If the staircase is more than 1000mm wide, you’ll need a second handrail located on the opposite side.

Spindles on the handrail should not allow a 100mm sphere to pass through, this is to prevent young children from getting their heads caught between the spindle.

Staircase handrail

Headroom

The minimum headroom is 2 metres, however, there are different rules for stairs that lead to a loft conversion.

Staircase headroom

Loft Conversion Staircase Regulations

Because the ceiling height in most lofts is lower than in other parts of the home, there are special rules regarding staircases and headroom.

The centre of the staircase should be no less than 1.9 metres from the ceiling. The shoulder should be no less than 1.8metres.

These are minimums, if you can achieve a 2 metre headroom then you should do so.

Staircase loft regulations

Loft Conversion Staircase Cost

From our own experience, we know that a staircase leading from a first floor into a loft conversion costs around £1100 inc VAT.

This figure includes the manufacturer, supply and install of a typical staircase with one winder (turn).

You can expect to pay more for:

  • hardwood or metal instead of softwood.
  • spindles and handrail instead of a handrail fixed to the wall.
  • additional winders.
  • the removal of an existing staircase.
  • any significant remodelling of the home.

We are not affiliated with the website below but they do have a staircase manufacturing price guide that’s based on the measurements you can easily take in your home:

Staircase build guide.

Landings

Landings are required at the top and bottom of each staircase and should be level and flat, although landings at ground level may have a gradient not exceeding 1:20.

The distance between the first or last step and any door should be at least the width of the staircase.

The space between any door opening and the staircase should be at least 400mm.

stair landing regulations

Further Reading

The guide above is for standard domestic staircases in a private dwelling.

There are different rules for spiral staircases. These are quite complex as it depends on where the spiral staircase leads to, whether it’s a single room upstairs or an entire floor with multiple rooms. Check out this guide to spiral staircases for more info.

Staircases with alternating steps and those found in commercial buildings are not covered by this guide.

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