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A Step into the Wide Variety of Staircase Styles

Staircases by author Meghan Carter

  • Straight staircases
  • Circular, Eliptical and Spiral staircases
  • Freestanding staircases
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    Staircases are like people. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are straight. Some are curvy. But unlike with people, it's okay to stare at staircases - gawk if you like. You can even have a favorite type you dream about without hurting anyone's feelings, and it won't be difficult for you to find a favorite.
    During my visit to Adam's Stair Works, I discovered there were more types of staircases than I could imagine. So whether you're making plans for your dream home or just dreaming about your future home, go ahead and ogle all of the different staircases to find the one that best fits your style.

Straight Staircases

    The most common type of staircase found in homes is the straight staircase. Possessing graceful descents and poised demeanors, straight staircases have a modest, understated beauty. They work well in areas tight on space and come in different variations aptly named for their shapes.
    "Your 'L' shaped stair, which goes up maybe to a landing and then turns to the left or right," the President and Owner of Adam's Stair Works, Doug Adams, said. "You have a 'T' shaped stair that goes up and then exits either direction."
    You also have the most basic staircase, the straight staircase, that forms a perfect line from beginning to end. That perfect, straight line is what gives straight staircases their beauty - a beauty stemming from order and symmetry.

Circular and Elliptical Staircases

    Circular and elliptical staircases, sweep into a room quickly stealing center stage. Bold, passionate and curvaceous, circular and elliptical staircases owe their beauty to their elegant twists and turns.
    "You have a circle stair, which is a bridal type stair where you see a long sweeping curve going up," Adams said. "Gone with the wind type style stair. People mistake the spiral and the circular all the time.
    "You have an elliptical stair, which is similar to a circular stair but it fits within an ellipse," Adams said. "Those are more popular in city homes where they are very long and narrow, and the ellipses are the most expensive stair we sell because the railing and the treads are all different throughout."
Telling the difference between a circular and elliptical staircase is easy. All you need to do is look at the way the staircase curves. Circular staircases look wider than elliptical staircases.
    "A circular stair will have one continuous radius and an ellipse will have multiple radiuses," Adams said. "So [an elliptical staircase] will go from a really tight radius to a gentle radius to a tight radius again. So, It's very easy to tell."

Spiral Staircases

Perfect for a side getaway, spiral staircases are used more as a decoration than a functional way to get from floor to floor.
    "We're building a lot of spirals in libraries," Adams said. "That's probably the number one place it's going - a two story library in an estate home, executive home. People want it to be that piece of furniture, that focal point."
    When it comes to using a spiral staircase, they're only practical in places where you don't plan on carrying things up and down them. A spiral staircase next to a laundry room would turn out to be a nuisance, because carrying a laundry basket can be quite a challenge. Not to mention, in most places spiral staircases can't be used a main staircase in a home because they won't pass the building codes. The only way to use a spiral staircase as a main staircase is to upgrade it to a double helix.
    "You've got your double helix next, which is like a spiral but a larger diameter and has an inside stringer," Adams said. "Not economical to use in a tight space. You can use it as a front staircase. They are very large and more costly."

Freestanding Staircases

    Appearing to float above the ground, a freestanding staircase looks as if it just barely taps the bottom floor.
    "Free standing means you can walk under both stringers and totally walk under it, and we have a single-open-under which means one side is attached to a wall and one side is open under," Adams said. "You'll find that in a lot of city homes where it's going up along an outside wall but you can see down to the basement. And that's what they call a single open under."
    Any type of staircase can be turned into a freestanding staircase, which only enhances the beauty of the spiral, circular, elliptical or straight staircase.

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