How to renovate and refurbish your staircase
‘People have spent small fortunes on their kitchens and bathrooms, which are often out of view and only have a lifespan of around ten years. Staircases are another matter; a feature staircase is the first thing you see when you enter a property adding an instant ‘wow’ factor.’ – Richard McLane, Yorkshire based, bespoke staircase company, Bisca
A good time to replace your staircase is when you are undertaking other building works such as adding an extension, renovating your home or simply to let more light into the property.
The first thing to get right is the layout. The entrance space should be considered as a whole, not just the hallway or the immediate vicinity of the staircase. People often look at floor plans forgetting that a staircase connects two or more floors. It is important to look at the space 3 dimensionally so the spaces work together on all levels.
It is worth getting a staircase specialist involved as early as possible to get some layout ideas and outline costs. Timings will vary depending on the complexity of the design and the scale of the project but design to installation will usually take a minimum of 12 weeks.
For a large entrance or hall area, there is a choice between having the staircase as a central feature, or, if you prefer to keep the space open, then a layout along, or close to, a side or back wall would work best. If there is an open-plan configuration, remember the staircase is on view from other areas of the property.
The space may suit a helical or winder, a spiral or a straight staircase; each configuration has its own set of pros and cons, and Bisca will create different layout options and explain the benefits of each.
When replacing a staircase, you can also change the direction of traffic, working around entrances to other rooms and improve the comfort of using the stairs by increasing the going and opening out bottom treads to ease the transition from floor to stair.
A bespoke staircase should be empathetic to the property; 60% of the design is about the staircase and 40% is how it interfaces with its surroundings. Once the layout has been defined then you can start thinking about style and materials. The clever part about design is having the ability and insight to incorporate both traditional and contemporary materials into a commission that will stand the test of time.
The materials and the role they play must be carefully considered, e.g., timber treads have different support requirements from stone treads. Glass balustrades and forged uprights can also perform structural functions in certain situations.
Each Bisca staircase is totally bespoke, designed and built completely from scratch in the company’s North Yorkshire workshop, all materials are individually sourced on a project-by-project basis. Providing it is suitable for use in staircases, almost any material can be specified. For a recent project, Bisca utilised recycled Vodka barrels to create a rustic cantilever open tread staircase.
If the staircase is structurally sound but looking tired and in need of an update, then one option is to replace the balustrade and handrail. The choice is generally between glass, timber, metal or plaster. Position, family requirements and budget are all important factors in making the right decision. It is important to consider any landing or galleries when obtaining quotations, not just the staircase itself.
The most effective way to transform the look of the hallway and staircase is to replace large timber spindles with glass or slim metal uprights. Glass balustrades remain high on the wish list for clients refurbishing a staircase in a contemporary interior, or where maximizing the flow of light is a priority. Uprights can be modern or ornate depending on style and budget with a range of materials such as forged steel and bronze to choose from. Hand-forged uprights are particularly popular in period properties. Bisca forge all the uprights and balustrade panels in their own workshop so they can be made to any design, shape or finish. Finally, handrails can be anything from stitched leather to solid wood, metal and bronze.
Going further, the structure can also be updated by removing and/or minimising newel posts and decorative mouldings. If space allows then feature treads can be added to the base of an existing staircase to improve both the look and flow of the staircase and surrounding area.
Staircases are like cars, you can spend £20K or £200K to get you from A to B, depending on the make, model and specification. The budget available will influence how ‘blue-sky’ your designer can go with creativity and material options. Bisca begins any project by listening to the client and is able to give a guide price based on drawings/photos. The Concept Design Service provides layout schemes, sketched visuals, samples and an estimated cost based on the design and the materials of your choice.
Bisca, Bisca House, Sawmill Lane, Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5DQ
Tel: 01439 771 702