Stairs in and around homes
Good stair construction is essential for safe access and movement in and around your home. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) sets the minimum standard for stair construction.
Stairs must fall (pardon the pun) within a regulated slope gradient depending on the distance between riser and the depth of the tread (going), and have minimum and maximum tread dimensions. The BCA limits the number of consecutive treads (risers) to 18. If additional risers are required, a landing must be provided to separate the flights to less than 18 risers each. The BCA also requires a consistent riser height to reduce the incidence of trips and falls on stairs.
When installing steps in landscaping or leading up to your home, the rise and going of the flight must also be consistent and should be mindful of the people using the stairs i.e. children or the elderly.
The material used for treads must be non-slip or include a non-skid strip at the edge of the stair nosing. Reflective finishes like high-gloss timber, stone and tiles can make it difficult to see the individual treads. A colour-contrasting edge to the step improves the safety of the stair.
Although it may seem a waste of space to have a wide stair leading up to bedrooms, you will need to move furniture up and down the staircase so providing some additional height and width to the stair will make it easier and safer to use.
Good lighting where there are stairs increases to safety of the stair and is often overlooked for stairs leading to the home or to basement areas.
Balustrades must be installed where the height of the stair exceeds one metre from the level below. So flights that only have four to five risers do not generally require a balustrade. Consider including a handrail on small flights. This gives people a handhold if they lose their footing or require assistance to move through a stairway.