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Stair Regulations in the UK

Stair Regulations in the UK

Building codes are set up to provide minimum standards for public health and safety. It is important to follow these regulations as they will end up saving you a lot of money in enforced changes. In this guide, we intend to cover the building regulations regarding staircases. In case you have any doubts regarding stair regulations in the United Kingdom, you should consider consulting a specialist.

What are the current UK Building Regulations for staircases?

The UK has put in place a code for the construction of staircases, and this includes the minimum dimensions of the steps. When purchasing staircases from a specialist, you will be able to get advice on the regulations. Your architect can also help you adhere to the current UK building regulations.

Here are some essential building regulations you should follow when constructing a staircase:

• The staircases should have handrails on at least one side if they have a minimum width of one metre. If the staircase is wider than one metre, it must have handrails on both sides. You will not need to include any handrails on the bottom two steps.
• The staircase should have a maximum pitch of 42 degrees.
• When building a domestic staircase, you will not need to follow any guidelines regarding the lengths of the flights. However, you should avoid going beyond 36 risers. Above 36 risers, you should consider changing direction by at least 30 degrees.
• You should provide a landing at the bottom and top of every flight of stairs.
• Any doors constructed near the staircase will have to swing further than 400mm from the front of the staircase.
• All landings must be level, but the ground level can have a slight gradient.
• When installing handrails, you must ensure that a 100 mm sphere cannot pass through the openings or gaps. This will prevent children from getting stuck between the rails.
• The minimum required headroom at all points of the staircase is 2,000mm, but with loft conversions, the headroom can be as low as 1,800mm.
• In case you want to build a staircase with open risers, you will have to ensure that a 100mm ball cannot pass through the space. Again, this is meant to protect children from getting stuck in the space. It is important to note that open risers are not allowed on public stairs.

Although the Building Regulations require staircases to have a pitch of 42 degrees, you will be able to build steeper stairs. These are known as space saver staircases or paddle stairs, and they are usually used where space is limited. Space savers should only be used to access a single room and should be avoided wherever there is an alternative. Such stairs should not be used in public spaces. If you choose to construct space saver stairs, you should ensure that you add handrails to both sides of the stairs. Since space saver staircases are specialist in nature, it is recommended that you engage experienced contractors when building the stairs.

What height should a step be in the UK?

The height of stairs in the UK is regulated by Building Regulations Approved Document K, which is a set of guidelines published by the UK government that provides recommendations for the design and construction of stairs, ramps, and guards in buildings. The document covers a wide range of topics related to safety and accessibility, including the dimensions of stairs and steps, the requirements for handrails and guardrails, and the design of ramps for wheelchair users.

Approved Document K is part of a series of documents that make up the Building Regulations, which are the minimum standards for the design and construction of buildings in England and Wales. The guidelines set out in Approved Document K are intended to ensure that stairs, ramps, and guards are safe, accessible, and easy to use for all people, regardless of their age or physical abilities. Failure to follow the guidelines could result in a building not meeting the requirements of the Building Regulations, which could lead to legal issues and potentially compromise the safety of the building’s occupants.

Here, we look at what height a step should be in the UK:

General Access Stairs: These are stairs that are used by the general public and have to be designed to accommodate a wide range of users. The recommended maximum height for each step on a general access stair is 170mm, while the minimum is 150mm.

Utility Stairs: These are stairs used for purposes other than general access, such as those leading to a basement or loft. The recommended maximum height for each step on a utility stair is 190mm, while the minimum is 150mm.

Private Stairs: These are stairs in a dwelling that are intended for use only by the occupants of that dwelling. The recommended maximum height for each step on a private stair is also 220mm, while the minimum is 150mm.

It’s worth noting that while these heights are recommended by Building Regulations, they are not set in stone and may vary depending on the specific circumstances and requirements of a particular building or staircase. It’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified professional to ensure that your stairs are safe and comply with all relevant regulations.

What is the code for wooden stairs?

Wood is a versatile construction material that is commonly used to make staircases. Wooden staircases work well with glass and stone walls. Different types of wood come at varying costs, and the cheapest ones are pine and hemlock. These are softwoods and are excellent for staircases. Hardwood staircases are more expensive, and they are commonly made of oak, ash, and walnut. It is also possible to combine different types of wood when constructing your staircase. Building Regulations does not have separate rules for wooden stairs, so you can simply follow the same regulations specified above.

What is the minimum rise and run of stairs?

The government has not specified the minimum or maximum rise of staircases in the UK. However, you should note that the average total rise of staircases is 2,600mm. Also, remember that the handrails and landings must have a minimum height of 900mm. Above the pitch line, you will need to plan for a clear headroom of at least 2,000mm.

The run or going of the staircase must be at least 220mm. There are currently no rules regarding the staircase width, but it is generally agreed that widths between 800mm and 900mm work well. On average, main staircases have widths of 860mm. For secondary staircases, you should consider going for a minimum staircase width of 600mm.


Staircases must be constructed in accordance with certain government regulations. These guidelines have been set to ensure the safety of anyone who uses the stairs and failing to follow these rules can cost you later on.

The main regulations cover the height of the staircases, the rise of the stairs, and the run of the steps. You also must ensure that the stairs have handrails, and these shouldn’t have gaps of more than 100mm.

The staircase needs to be positioned appropriately so that any swings of the door don’t hit the front of the staircase. In the UK, you can also choose to build staircases with open risers but remember to ensure that a 100mm ball cannot go through these gaps.

Make sure you consult with a professional before you start constructing your staircase.

Further Reading

Learn more about UK Kitchen Socket Regulations and Cavity Tray Building Regulations

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