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The Ultimate Stair Design Guide For Homeowners (Part One)

10 January 2019

The Ultimate Stair Design Guide for Homeowners - Part One

This comprehensive stair guide is the perfect place to start when planning your new architectural home.

We’ve gone through every step of the process, from your first concept designs through to getting an accurate quotation.  Part Two will take you from quotation, through to design, manufacture and installation.


The First Step:  Brainstorm

Start at the beginning with a BIG brainstorm.  You can probably sum up the style of your home using a few key words:  modern, industrial, classic, or traditional.  Use this style to guide your stair choice.

Some stairs suit modern homes, such as floating stairs.  Others look best in homes with a more traditional style – like a wooden stair with turned wooden balustrades.

Search online and save pictures of stairs you like to build up a picture of designs that appeal to you.  Some great resources are;

Google image search

And of course our own stair gallery which is regularly updated with new projects.


The Second Step:  Preliminary Budget

It might seem early to think about budget, but you can spend anywhere from $5000 - $100,000 or more to achieve your dream feature stair.  So it helps if you know what you are looking to invest in your stairs.


As a ballpark guideline, stair pricing is as follows:

Carpet quality stair – low budget

Exposed wooden stair – Mid range

Floating steel stair – Premium


And for balustrades:


Wooden, up to 1 metre high – low budget

Wooden floor height screens – mid range

Wrought iron – mid range

Steel screens – mid range to premium

Glass – Premium


If you are unsure about the investment required for your preferred designs, this is a good time to contact us and we can help you with some indicative amounts.


The Third - Fifth Steps:  Down to Details

This is for when you are working more closely with us or your architect on the finer details of the home.  We have broken this down into three key areas which all require consideration – location, space and maintenance.



Where will your stairs be located in the home?  For example, if you’re putting them in the entryway this is a fantastic opportunity to make a wonderful first impression for guests.  If they’re in the living areas, again, it’s a great place to truly make the staircase a feature of the space.

Is the area dark or light?  If it’s dark, you might want to consider lighter coloured timbers or having an open riser design.  You could even add lights to the staircase for the ultimate feature.



How much space is available for the stairs?  If you’re going for a grand curved stairwell, you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of space to fit the stairs and create the grand look you want.

If your stairs will need turns, remember that this will increase the cost and might make the stairs less comfortable to use (in very tight spaces).



Stairs are a well used route in most houses.  Keep in mind that some styles need more maintenance than others.  For example, some styles of wrought iron are prone to collecting difficult-to-reach dust.  Glass is prone to smudge marks and finger prints.  Finishes on wood can slowly wear over time and may need to be touched up in the future.


The Sixth Step:  Your Safety

NZ Building laws are quite strict compared to some other countries.  You might find that some of your preferred stair designs aren’t compliant in New Zealand.  There are usually simple design tweaks that can be made if this is the case, to ensure you have a safe and compliant stair design.  We recommend you check with your architect or give us a call to check your stairs.


 The Seventh Step:

With all these items checked off, you should have a pretty good idea of your final design.  Once your architect has drawn your concept plans including the stairs, it’s time to send this to us and we’ll provide an accurate quotation for you.


Next steps… read on to

The Ultimate Stair Guide - From Paper To Completion (Part Two)

to learn how your stairs will go from a piece of paper to a beautiful feature in your home!



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