Maintenance of Stairs

While most of the stairs in houses are of a closed or open-riser timber variety in either a straight flight, quarter-turn or dog leg form, there are other stairs found in domestic use. For example, stairs could be constructed of concrete or steel; where there is not enough space for a conventional staircase, a spiral staircase may have been installed. In most cases the repairs and maintenance required for these types of stair are fairly simple to carry out.

Concrete and steel stairs

Stairs of these types are normally confined to industrial premises and communal areas in flats. However, to meet the requirements of fire regulations, they may be installed in houses which have been converted into flats or on the outside of large houses as fire escapes from upper rooms.


Concrete stairs rarely give problems. However, if the noses of the treads become chipped or damaged, they can be repaired in the same way as concrete steps, which has been described earlier in the Course. Cracks can be filled with a mortar mix. Moss or lichen on outdoor stairs can be dangerous in wet conditions and should be scraped off and the stairs treated with a fungicide solution.

Steel stairs indoors are again unlikely to need repairs unless there are faults in the metal, in which case you should call in a professional. The main problem with outdoor steel stairs is corrosion. Remove rust by wire-brushing, scraping with a knife or wallpaper scraper or rubbing with abrasive paper. Apply rust killer and a metal primer and then an undercoat and top coat of protective paint.

Spiral staircases

Traditional spiral staircases are made of cast iron and, if situated indoors, are unlikely to need repairs. Outdoor stairs of this type may be subject to corrosion and you should treat the problem in the same way as for steel stairs.

More modern designs are made of steel and wood. Some of these are manufactured for DIY assembly — one typical make consists of only five basic parts and is packed flat for easy transportation. The treads are made from 30mm (or 1 iin) thick hardwood and the inner and outer balustrades and the posts which support the construction simply bolt together. Individual treads can be adjusted to give a rise of between 190 to 200mm (or 71 to 8in) so the staircase can meet any landing height which is within the Building Regulations. If tread replacement becomes necessary, it is quite straightforward with this type of structure since the treads are screwed in place.

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