How to install a timber staircase properly

20.04.2016
Blog Post
How to install a staircase properly - diagram showing a staircase with fixings into floor joist

(Updated 1 May 2020)

Timber staircases are an integral part of many homes across the UK. While the design and manufacture of a staircase is key to its integrity and effectiveness, it’s just as important to install it right.

Poor installation can cause the stability of the stair to be reduced and lead to failure. A new guide from the British Woodworking Federation Stair Scheme tells you how to make sure it doesn’t happen.

How to install a timber staircase properly

The freely available BWF Stair Scheme Installation Guide provides general information about installing timber staircases, focusing on these key things:

  • Plan the delivery of the stair to be close to the time when it will be installed to ensure the minimum time of site storage. If necessary, store them in clean, well ventilated places protected from damp and direct sunlight. Keep long items flat on bearers.
  • The finished size of the stair shouldn’t be the same as the sizes measured on site – this won't give any flexibility when you’re installing the stair and won’t allow parts of the flight to be manoeuvred into position.
  • Ensure the staircase you’re installing will support the loads of both the flights and the balustrades.
  • You must support the stair until all the fixings to the surrounding structure are in place.
  • Quarter landings and half landings need to support the same loads as the floors of the property.
  • Floor joists should be let into the walls (but not into cavities) for support or be supported by joist hangers.
  • A handrail on its own can’t act as a safety barrier. The full guarding system needs to work together to prevent people from falling through or over it.
  • Don’t use a stair until it’s securely fixed in place.

Further information

This installation guide covers all vital areas where mistakes often happen. Download your free copy of the BWF Stair Scheme Installation Guide.

There's also Top tips to avoid common staircase problems

Comments

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 10 months ago

There is no mention of staircase carriage's and their use in certain heavy load situations.

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 10 months ago

"The finished size of the stair shouldn’t be the same as the sizes measured on site – this won't give any flexibility when you’re installing the stair and won’t allow parts of the flight to be manoeuvred into position." What!

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 10 months ago

The shoulder of both the string & the handrail that is morticed into the newel post needs to be let in 8mm to maintain to continued strength of the section. Without this detail & once the post has shrunk, this allows to the 70mm wide handrail to rotate on a 10mm tenon, loosing its residual strength.

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 10 months ago

Keeping updated helps improve our work and create safer builds. Z

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 10 months ago

Hi Z,

Thanks for the feedback. We're glad you're finding the updates useful.

Editor, LABC

Webmaster note

Submitted 1 year 10 months ago

All comments posted at an earlier date to this one have been transferred from our old website.

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