Space Saving Stairs For Your House

In this article, let's see what it is and when it is convenient to install a space saving stairs to connect two floors.

A space saving stairs

First, let's try to understand what is a mini staircase.

A mini staircase is, by definition, a small staircase with steps that serves to connect two floors, often the attic with the floor below or to climb on a mezzanine.

We are therefore not talking about ladders or retractable ladders that, theoretically, could perform the same functions although in a different way.

A mini ladder is characterized by being fixed (and therefore different from a scissor attic ladder) and equipped with steps (different, therefore, from a step ladder).

It could also be a side folding stairs to which I have dedicated an article that I recommend you read.

This type of staircase is not normally created during the construction of the building, in which case different solutions would probably be adopted, but it is installed at a later date and precisely to cope with a lack of space due to the fact that a fixed staircase was not originally planned.

With the latest renovation laws it has been possible, in many regions, to create a small living space even in the attic and this has made it necessary to connect two floors and make them easily accessible.

If the attic is large enough to accommodate items that would otherwise clutter the house, it is obvious that, in some way, it is already accessible through a trap door and a retractable ladder.

When the attic becomes habitable, however, the need to access it becomes much more frequent and a scissor attic ladder would no longer make sense.

If the space for a normal masonry staircase is not enough, there is no choice but to resort to a tiny staircase that in addition to occupying little space in width, also occupies a very small space in length.

The space saving stairs are characterized, in fact, to have a slope much higher than a normal staircase but less than what could have a ladder.

Occupying so little space, a space saving staircase must have special features to make it usable.

These kinds of stairs are designed to be used by only one person at a time and according to a very precise method of ascent and descent.

The shaped and staggered steps, in fact, allow the support of the foot, right or left, and the support can not vary, because being the staggered steps the support surface would simply be less.

The structure of a space-saving staircase

The space-saving stairs are composed of prefabricated modules that require only to be assembled. It is essentially a kit that can also be ordered online or purchased at large DIY centers and easily transported in the trunk of your car.

In 90% of cases, a space saving stairs rests on a painted steel structure that acts as the "backbone" of the ladder.

Therefore, you do not have two lateral wooden supports where the steps are fitted, but a central support on which the step is supported and fixed.

The fact of having a central structure composed of cylindrical modules who also allows you to vary the direction of the staircase to make them take a curved course.

The steps are generally made of solid beech wood and stained in such a way as to be able to adapt to the various styles of the house, from the most modern to the most classic.

A lateral handrail completes the structure. Only one handrail because this kind of space-saving stairs, by their very nature, tend to be placed next to a wall so two handrails are not necessary.

The steps of prefabricated staircases, as mentioned, do not have two side supports but using the same space-saving system based on staggered steps, it is absolutely possible for a carpentry enthusiast to create his or her own custom staircase from scratch.

This type of stairs with alternating steps can be not only straight but also L shaped or spiral.

In the picture below you can see how this kind of staircase occupies very little space compared to a normal open staircase.

space occupied by space saving stairs
Image source

Are space saving stairs safe?

The (justified) doubt of many people is that these stairs for small spaces may not be very safe because of their characteristics.

Granted that each staircase, in itself, is an architectural element not without risk, it is also true that the steeper a staircase is, the more potentially unsafe it is.

The fact that there are staggered steps, then, can be a further reason for perplexity because going up and down it is very important to watch carefully where you put your feet.

The question about the danger of loft stairs, however, is ill-posed.

The point is that if you opt for a space saving stairs of this type is because, objectively, you can not do without it and then compare one of these stairs from a large masonry staircase with a gentle slope does not make much sense.

You have to compare these stairs to possible alternatives to bridge a height difference and make the upper floor accessible with a reduced footprint.

If we compare a space saving staircase with a ladder we will certainly find that the latter is much more dangerous.

Well, if we wanted to and if we had the economic possibilities, even a mini elevator could perform the same function, perhaps occupying even less space, but then the discourse shifts to the side of expense and accessibility because in a mini elevator probably we would not be able to enter even a bulky box, in addition to ourselves.

Can space saving staircases be installed by yourself?

The answer is yes, a prefabricated space saving staircase can also be assembled and installed independently and is therefore a job suitable for the DIY enthusiast.

In fact, you have to read the assembly instructions no more and no less than you would with a piece of furniture bought at IKEA.

This does not mean that masonry work is not necessary as well, on the contrary.

If the attic was already served by a trapdoor with a scissor attic ladder, you must first remove it and enlarge the space by demolishing part of the ceiling.

space saving stair by fontanot

If the screed is reinforced it will be anything but easy. If you don't know what you're doing, don't hesitate to ask for the advice of a surveyor to avoid damaging girders or support beams!

If the staircase will not serve a loft area it will almost certainly be necessary to close with a wall the area of the upper floor overlooking the staircase and create a door at the arrival of the staircase itself.

Making the attic habitable certainly involves masonry work.

The installation of the staircase, in itself, is anything but difficult as it is composed of modules that you need to fit into each other to get exactly the height of the floor of the upper floor.

With a simple calculator it will be easy to obtain the height of each individual step by dividing the total height from floor to floor by the number of steps.

The staircase is assembled on the floor and only then it is placed vertically.

It will then be necessary to fix the structure with dowels, both at the starting point and at the point of arrival.

Space-saving staircase assembly video

In this video you can see the installation procedure of a modular space-saving stairs, from the opening of the package to the finishes.

Conclusions: pros and cons of space-saving stairs

We have already exposed in the article what are the characteristics of these ladders and, consequently, what can be their strengths and weaknesses.

Among the advantages we can list:

  • reduced overall dimensions
  • easiness of laying
  • stability compared to other ladders with the same dimensions
  • reduced cost under one thousand USD

The disadvantages are much smaller than the advantages:

  • aesthetics that not everyone likes, especially lovers of tradition
  • a certain danger due to the high slope and the alternating steps
DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.