Stairways have been created in many styles to suit the needs of their surroundings. Some stairways are created in the cheapest and easiest style to provide access to an upper floor while others are intended to complement a grand foyer and are built out of expensive materials in ornate styles.
A straight stairway is the easiest kind of stairway to build and to use. It consists of a straight run of stairs that goes all the way from a lower floor to an upper floor. Straight stairways are uncommon in most residences because they require a lot of uninterrupted wall space and aren't efficient in their use of space. When moving large pieces of furniture, straight stairways are much more convenient than other kinds because their construction doesn't lend itself to bottlenecks.
A spiral stairway is made of a series of wedge-shaped steps that are all attached to a central axis. The footprint of a spiral staircase within a floor plan is circular rather than rectangular. Spiral staircases can be open with railings around them or enclosed within walls. Spiral staircases are beautiful when installed but are inconvenient for moving large objects up and down. They can also be difficult to use for people who have mobility problems.
A split stairway is the most common type to be found in average residential home. This style is made up of two short runs of straight stairs connected by a landing. The upper and lower runs might be joined at a right angle and installed in a corner of the house, or could run in opposite directions, with the landing providing a 180 degree turn. A split stairway is the most convenient way to fit a stairway into a floor plan while using up a minimal amount of floor space.
Most stairways have closed risers, meaning that the spaces between the treads are filled in with solid material. Stairs with open risers are built with only the treads, leaving the vertical spaces between them uncovered. This style is most common in modernist interiors where the stairway may be freestanding and run up the center of a room. This design can be dramatic and attractive, but is usually only found in large houses because it is not an efficient use of space.
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