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Types of Timber Frame Stair Systems

Timber Frame Stair SystemsIf you’re planning to build a multi-storied timber frame home, the chances are pretty good you’ll be agonizing over what type of stairway to have built. You’re right to spend time researching timber frame stair systems, as they can be a focal point for the entire public area of your home.

Start collecting images of stairs you find attractive or consider suitable for your home. Once you have an idea of the basic style you really prefer, take them to your designer or architect. Stairs can be labor intensive, and therefore tend to be rather costly. They must also be custom designed for each house, so you might want to get started with this as soon as possible. This way, you’ll know from the outset the cost of your staircase and your designer has time to incorporate it into the overall plans.An impressive staircase can take an average house and give it a punch of pizzazz. If you’re the type of family that likes to really make a statement, then go all out with a spectacular staircase.
Types Of Staircases

The most common general shapes of staircases are straight, L-stair, double L-stair, U-stair, pie stair, curved stair and spiral stair. Designing a staircase for your home can include several factors, including available open space, the position of beams, structural members and your budget.

The most popular forms of staircases are open riser and closed staircases. You should check with your local building code for restrictions in your area on open riser staircases.

Open Riser Staircase

Timbered StairsOpen riser staircases don’t have risers to enclose the treads. This gives an open and airy feel. However, this open configuration can pose some risks, and your local building code may have restrictions on them.

These designs add drama to a room and are certainly a focal point. Using contrasting woods and metal accents for banisters and balustrades really punch up the wow factor of these dramatic staircases.

Closed Staircase

This type of stair is enclosed and is less attention-grabbing than open staircases. However, they are very practical and are perfect for a traditional-style home.

Basic Stair Construction

Timber Frame Stair RenderingsThere are several popular variations in the basic construction of stairs. Some variations are best suited for a particular type of staircase, and there are certainly more variations that are less frequently used.

In an open thread system, the stringers have a mortise cut into them, and the tread acts as the tenon. A peg is dropped through the tenon protruding on the outside of the stringer.
Using a closed box system, the treads are mortised into the stringer and do not protrude on the outside.

A third popular method is to have cutout stringers upon which the treads rest. This is the simplest and least labor-intensive method.

Since a staircase can dominate a room, it’s something you should think about when deciding the best way to get from floor to floor in your home. Certainly, there’s the budget to be considered. Compatibility with the style of your home is another factor. Choice of materials and ease of maintenance are other things that should be on your checklist. Take your time and find a staircase that suits you and your family now, and in the future.

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4 thoughts on “Types of Timber Frame Stair Systems”

  1. Michael Zuckerman

    I posted this on another article and then found this one. This article is where my post should be , so here it is:

    I am timber framing a tiny cabin – it is 12′x12′ with an 8′x10′ front room (tiny kitchen/dining)….. the 12×12 bearing walls are 12′ high so there is a four foot knee wall when you get to that level.

    I am looking for a timber frame design for a stairway that either does a 90 degree turn with 2-3 steps built into the turn (landing) or a switchback (also with steps in the turn)…… the whole point is I am trying to take up as little space as possible but don’t want a ladder. Envisioning, a 2 ft. wide stairway with 12″ risers……….

    Any ideas? Can you point me towards some existing plans? Any thoughts would be helpful.

    By the way – I just completed the sawhorses……. a wonderful first timber frame project. They came out great……… Michael Z.

  2. Glad to hear that your saw horse project went well. Would love to post a picture of them.

    I don’t have any plans that would fit your needs, with the size of the cabin I can understand your need to twist the stair case tread, but I general do not do that.

    My best advice to to research ships ladders and to checkout this Pinterest board http://www.pinterest.com/victoriaws/tiny-house-ladders-and-stair-solutions/

    Let me know if you have any other questions,

  3. Do you have any examples of the framing required for a staircase opening on an upper floor? I’m designing a 24×36 frame with a full loft. 4 bents with a 24′ tie beams. The staircase will be in one corner of the building. I’ll have to remove some floor joists to accommodate the stairwell. I was thinking to add some new beams between tie beams, but their tenons would need to be horizontal in the tie beams. Or, can I just use a pocketed loft joist to hang the stringers on?

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