When it comes to comprehensive interior design, absolutely everything is a feature. If you want to achieve a complete design then you cannot afford to overlook anything, even your staircase.
This is yet another feature that has tonnes of potential which usually goes untapped. Granted, in an average family home a standard wooden staircase will look nice and proper; in a trendy modern home, however, one of the most attractive choices out there will be a cool set of floating stairs.
Suspended from a wall with cantilevers, floating stairs need solid supports from a sturdy wall. A structural engineer will usually be required to assess whether or not they will be suitable for a property, while the actual installation work will be done by a local carpenter or builder.
The term ‘floating staircase’ is a bit misleading; a more accurate description would be ‘cantilever staircase’. They work with a ‘cantilever’ anchoring each step at the wall, holding it so firmly and steadily that additional supports are not necessary.
As you might expect, the attachments and treads for these staircases must be sturdy for such a setup to work. The wall will need to be solid and may even need to be reinforced with a metal sheet. If you are interested in installing floating stairs, have a structural engineer assess your wall before anything else.
That said, your staircase can still have an artistic flair. There is no reason for it to just be a straight staircase: why not consider a curved or spiral design?
Take some time to consider the material for your treads, too. While floating stairs have quite a modern appearance anyway, this look can still be boosted or adapted. Marble and stone treads are impressive but expensive choices, with cheaper options including metal, glass and wood. Try to keep the appearance of the rest of your property in mind when making your decision. For example, if you have wooden flooring, you may want to have your treads installed with matching timber.
It will also be worth thinking of additional features. Incorporated LED lights can highlight the stairs (which given what an impressive feature they can be will be an excellent touch), as well as improve their safety. You should also consider the open space beneath your floating stairs. This will be perfect for storage (you could even install drawers under each step), or even a small office space.
The final thing that you will need to consider is safety. As attractive as an open floating staircase can be, without a balustrade it can also be highly unsafe. This can make floating staircases unsuitable for homes with children or elderly relatives. For the sake of safety, consider installing a handrail or balustrade. Glass is a great choice here, as it will allow you to keep the staircase’s open look.
One of the downsides of installing a floating staircase is that they are not particularly cheap. Depending on the materials, size and shape of your staircase, the installation could cost between £20,000 and £80,000. Your cheapest option will usually be a metal frame with solid treads and low rising.
Your natural reaction may be to look for areas where you can cut costs. Whatever you do, do not scrimp on the price of hiring a structural engineer. A poor quality assessment prior to installing the staircase could lead to expensive problems down the line or even serious injury.