Once considered just to be a way for to move from one level to the other, the humble staircase is now fast becoming a design element in its own right. So how do you decide on what type of staircase you should have in your home? We share the design elements and safety guidelines you’ll need to know before you get stared.


As the vertical link in the home, staircases should be designed to match your home’s overall design concept. Materials used should suit your design style, budget and preferences. In a modern or minimalist home, the staircase can utilise clean and clear materials such as metal, stainless steel or glass. In a compact space, it would likewise be advisable to use light and bright materials.


It depends on the typology of your home, and how the stairs support the transition from level to level. Your staircase should be ventilated and exposed to light. Do note that stairs should be accessible (users should not have to walk long distances to access it). Your interior designer or architect would be able to advise you on this.


Create a skylight above your stairs to allow more light and air to flow freely. Unconventional staircases have level or slanted shelves, or storage boxes as steps, so the space can be utilised for display or storage purposes. The space under the stairs can be converted to a closed door storage, open shelving or bookcases. 


The design of the stairs installed should suit the needs of the home’s occupants. While spiral staircases and open-style staircases without risers or railings may look good, they aren’t fit for homes with young children or elderly folk.


Staircases must comply with BCA (Building and Construction Authority) guidelines:

+ They must have handrails or guides to assist movement, landings to break a fall and provide a place for rest, sufficient headroom to avoid injury, and barriers against falling from a height of one metre or more from an open side.

+ The width of a staircase should be more than 90cm, the height of a riser (the vertical part between one step and the next) less than 17.5cm, the width of a tread (the vertical part on which you step) more than 22.5cm, and risers and treads within each flight of stairs should be of a uniform height and size.

+ Handrails should be provided on at least one side of the flight of stairs, and the height of the handrail shall be between 75cm and 90cm above the pitch line (the imaginary line along the tip of the nosing of the treads).

For more information, consult the BCA website at or your designer.