Stairs are not only a necessity, but they are also a focal point of any home. They serve a crucial functional purpose of physically connecting one level of your house to another, across stories, split levels, or between the outside and the inside. Besides their practicality, the type of stairs installed also impacts the feel and flow of your home.

There are several types of stairs, including straight, floating, L-shaped, U-shaped, curved, spiral, and bifurcated. The three key elements to consider when deciding the kind of stairs for your remodel include the series of treads (the part where your foot rests), the riser (the vertical part), and the shape. A good staircase design can enhance the overall aesthetic of your home. Here are some popular types of stairs to know for your new build or remodel.

Bifurcated Stairs

Most commonly found in historic estates and luxury hotels, these are the most dramatic style and grandest staircase type. They start with one sweeping flight of stairs leading to a generous landing, then split into two smaller flights heading in opposite directions. Bifurcated stairs typically lead into an open hallway that looks down into a glamorous foyer.

Split stairs make an impressive architectural statement. However, they require a significant amount of space and, thus, cost more to build.

Cantilever or Floating Stairs

This type of staircases has treads with no risers—the space between each step is open. They are typically mounted to the wall to create a modern look. Because of their sharp line construction, they can have a minimalist feel. In some cases, the support structure is not noticeable. But, in others there may be a visible beam up the middle of the staircase. The risers sometimes use glass or plexiglass to create a floating look.

Floating stairs take ultra-modern interior design to a new level as they bring more visual interest and add spaciousness to the room. They are an excellent choice to add a look of distinction. However, they are not ideal for homes with kids, pets, or people with mobility limitations, since the open spaces underneath and between the stairs present trip and fall hazards.

Circular Stairs

These often appear to form a circle with a single center of curvature. Because the curve is less sharp, they seem more like regular stairs than spiral ones. The helical shape makes circular stairs easier to navigate compared to spiral staircases. The downside is that they require more open space and are more expensive to build.

Stairs are one of the most complicated home features to design and construct. For a functional and beautiful finish, consider your home’s design style, available space, personal preferences, and budget when choosing the type of stairs.


Curved Stairs

Commonly reserved for formal entries, curve stairs are designed to make a striking architectural statement. These are continuous sets of stairs built in an elliptical or oval shape that goes to the next floor in a sophisticated sweeping curve—they do not form a circle or a spiral.

Curved stairs are known for their crescent shape, which emanates a dramatically luxurious feel. The elegant and flowing design makes it popular for commercial and residential spaces. They are suitable for larger areas. If you try to fit them into a tight space, it will mean tightening the stair radius. This approach won’t produce the staircase’s grand and sophisticated signature look. The downside of these stairs is that they are the most challenging to design and build, making them one of the most expensive.

L-Shaped (Quarter Turn)

These stairs are another form of straight stairs, but they make a 90-degree turn at some point, going left or right after a landing to create an L-shape. The landing can be in the middle of the staircase or closer to the endpoints. L-shaped stairs are typically used when wall support is on one side of the stairs.

These stairs take up less space and fit nicely into corners. They are more aesthetically pleasing than straight stairs, are easier to navigate, and the bend offers some privacy between barriers. They are more complex and expensive to build than straight stairs because they require a support structure.

Ladder Stairs

These are very steep stairs, ideal for tight and smaller houses. They save valuable floor space and may have wheels or folding elements to tuck them away when they are not in use.

Ladders are cost-efficient due to their simple design. They are also versatile and can be used for different applications, such as to access libraries, lofts, attics, or docks. However, because of their steepness, some building regulations prohibit them from being the primary means of access to a building. Also, they are less safe than permanent staircases and can become challenging to navigate.

Spiral Stairs

These feature a central, vertical support to which all steps are attached. The steps are wedge-shaped and spiral upwards to the floor above, typically through a hole cut into the floor. Spiral stairs are space savers, ideal for compact spaces where conventional steps cannot fit. They are common access points for a rooftop deck or outdoor patio. They can also be used in light structures like beach and tree houses. And they are typically made of metal or wood.

The biggest disadvantage is that they can be challenging to navigate, especially when moving furniture or other bulky household fittings. They can also be problematic for little ones or older adults, and most building regulations do not allow them to be used as the primary staircase to the second story of a home. Slips and falls are common with these kinds of stairs, so step with care.

Straight Stairs

These stairs feature a single linear flight of steps that go straight up with no change in direction. They are the most common type of stairs for both residential and commercial spaces. Straight stairs can be modified to have an intermediate landing (some building codes may require this if the stairs need to be more than 12 feet high). They may also have a top or bottom landing.

Straight stairs are relatively easy to design and construct because they do not require any special support. This makes them affordable. The downside is that they use more linear space and may not be functional in every floor plan. They also offer a basic look with limited privacy between floors.

U-Shaped Stairs (Half Turn/Halfback/Switchback)

U-shaped stairs go by many names, but they are two parallel flights of straight stairs separated by a landing that creates a 180-degree turn. Because they have a typically narrow design, they take up less linear floor space.

U-shaped stairs are often eye-catching and easy to fit into architectural plans. The landing offers a resting point. But these stairs may be difficult to construct in smaller homes.

Winder Stairs

Winder stairs are similar to the L-shaped ones but without a connecting landing. Instead, they feature triangular steps that allow for a change in direction, which takes less space than having a full landing. These stairs give a cozy look to small homes, and the designs are flexible enough to be configured in various ways to add visual appeal.

The main benefit of winder stairs is that they are space efficient. Their compact design makes them an ideal choice for sustainable home design. The downside is that they need a center support structure that can be difficult to construct.

Matney Construction, located in Mount Airy, Maryland, specializes in building new homes and residential remodeling. We know that the decision to build or remodel a home is no easy thing. As a family owned and operated business, we work closely with our clients to create their dream home, from custom floor plans and options, to bath and kitchen remodels. Whether it’s a single room or an entire home, we pride ourselves on meeting your quality standards, timeline and budget. Contact us today to have our professional design experts help you make your home unique, stylish, and in-tune with your personality. (410) 635-2500