#Doorsets Stairs - Open Rise Stairs

Are Open Rise Stairs Safe?

The short answer is Yes, if safety standards are adhered to.
This is a question that parents of young children ask and the following is to help alleviate those concerns.

Demystifying Open Riser Stairs: Are They Safe?

Open riser stairs, also known as floating stairs, have gained popularity in recent years due to their sleek, modern aesthetic. These stairs eliminate the solid risers that typically conceal the underside of the treads, creating an airy and open feeling. While their minimalist design appeals to many homeowners, concerns about safety often arise.

Dispelling the Myths

Open riser stairs have often been portrayed as less safe than their solid-riser counterparts. However, this perception is often based on misconceptions and outdated safety standards. As long as open riser stairs are constructed and maintained according to building codes and safety regulations, they can be just as safe as any other type of staircase.

Understanding Safety Standards

The International Residential Code (IRC), the primary building code in the United States, establishes guidelines for the design and construction of open riser stairs. These guidelines ensure that the gap between the treads is sufficiently wide to prevent objects from falling through but narrow enough to prevent tripping hazards.

Gap Dimensions

The IRC mandates that the minimum gap between the treads of an open riser staircase should be no greater than 100mm (3.9 inches). This ensures that small objects, such as toys or loose change, cannot fall through and cause injury.

Tread Width and Grip

The IRC also specifies minimum tread width requirements for open riser staircases. The tread width should be at least 80mm (3.1 inches) for residential stairs. This ensures that the tread provides sufficient surface area for the foot to comfortably land without feeling cramped or unstable.

Safety Features

In addition to adhering to building codes, incorporating additional safety features can further enhance the safety of open riser stairs. These features include:

  • Balustrades: Balustrades, or handrails, provide support and guidance for both ascending and descending the stairs. Open riser stairs should have guardrails or balustrades on both sides, with no gaps greater than 100mm (3.9 inches) between vertical balusters or rails.

  • Textured Treads: Textured treads, such as those with a grooved or ridged surface, enhance grip and reduce the risk of slipping, especially in wet or humid conditions.

  • Backlighting: Backlighting the treads can improve visibility and make the stairs easier to navigate, especially at night or in dimly lit areas.

Considerations for Young Children

When open riser stairs are present in homes with young children, additional safety measures should be taken to prevent falls and injuries. These measures include:

  • Child Gates: Installing child gates at the top and bottom of the staircase can prevent children from accessing the stairs unsupervised.

  • Stairway Covers: Stairway covers, which temporarily block the staircase when not in use, provide additional protection for young children.

  • Regular Inspections: Regularly inspecting the stairs for any loose components or damage can help identify and address potential safety hazards promptly.

In conclusion, open riser stairs can be a safe and stylish addition to any home when designed and maintained according to building codes and safety standards. By incorporating additional safety features and considering the unique needs of your household, you can create a staircase that is both visually appealing and functionally secure.


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