Guide to Specifying a Staircase on a Self-Build

1 June 2021

Staircases are often the central feature of a property, particularly in self-build homes where they can really make a statement. In order to ensure that the staircase you install in your property meets your expectations, it is important to clearly specify your requirements.

We spoke with our residential staircase experts, Spiral UK, about the things self-builders need to keep in mind when specifying a staircase for their project...

Use and location

Define the location and use of the stair as this will have an impact on building regulations.  Whoever is designing your staircase will need to know the dimensions of the space in which is it being installed.  Think about how the staircase will be seen in the space and how it will be used.  Would a spiral staircase save space?  How will it look when standing in other areas of the house?


Allocating a specific cost to the staircase element of your build can be worthwhile as it helps define the type of stair and materials you have. Bespoke staircases start at £15,000 but if you do not require the design and installation of a luxury stair you can source something considerably cheaper at a DIY store or from kit stair suppliers.


Getting a staircase expert involved early in a project can be helpful so you can understand the length of time the staircase will take to design, manufacture and install.  A bespoke staircase will take longer than a standard design and discussing price, design options and materials early on will save time later in the build. 

Type of staircase

There is a wide range of staircase styles out there including spiral stairs, helical or curved stairs, cantilever or floating staircases, straight, dog-leg and spine beams. Research the type of staircase you would like and consider how it will suit the space of your self-build property.  Then make sure what you want is clearly defined in the specification.

Consider Components

Think about each stair component and how you’d like it to function and look. Manufacturers can often offer samples of materials or visits to their premises to see what is available.


What material would you like the tread (the top of the stair that you step on) to be made in. Choices include different types of wood, natural stone, glass or concrete.


How would you like this to be designed and installed, what material would you like to use? E.g. stainless steel, wood, glass or leather-clad.


There are a variety of staircase finishes available on the market to suit the style of your chosen staircase they include painted steel, powder coating, stainless steel, site sprayed or lacquered. Make sure you have specified your finish otherwise the staircase may be installed under the assumption that someone else is undertaking this task.


Don't forget that you need to consider matching the balustrade on adjacent balconies and landings as well as on the staircase itself.


Staircases and balustrades can be manufactured from a range of materials including steel, timber, concrete, natural stone, glass and stainless steel.

If you have always dreamt of a timber curved staircase you need to ensure this is specified.


Most staircase specialists will have a very good understanding of how to ensure your staircase meets building standards but it is always worth getting their commitment to ensuring they are complying with them.


External Helical Staircase

Balustrade  a railing or wall on a balcony or staircase

Spiral Staircase  a series of steps that wind around a central pole

Helical Staircase  a curved staircase without a central column

Treads  the horizontal part of a stair upon which people walk

Nosing  the edge of the tread that protrudes over the riser beneath it

Going  the horizontal distance between one step and the next, measured from nosing to nosing

Risers  these are the near-vertical spaces between one step and the next on a staircase.

Balusters  vertical posts comprising the barrier in guards and railings

Handrails  'the bit you hold' to give stability and support whilst using a staircase

Clearly specifying your staircase and understanding the components when planning a self-build project will help the build process run smoothly and manage costs thus ensuring you get the feature staircase you’ve always dreamed of.

For more information call 01494 722 880 or make an appointment to visit the Sky House Design Centre.


Post Updated: 01/06/2021

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