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New Staircase Cost: 2020 Replacement Prices UK

Why would you want to buy a new or upgrade your staircase? Simple questions need simple answers. But first, let’s consider what a staircase does. 

Usually, it’s often the first thing one sees when walking into the house. Because most stairs lead from the front hall it can be the showcase of your home. 

Secondly, every time you use your staircase, you put the safety of your family in its care. Both these points require you to have a good quality set of stairs. 

The average cost of a new staircase isn’t cheap. Professionals build stairs to exacting standards, which must comply with the Building Regulations. Furthermore, professionals should install stairs as well, as the Regulations govern this too. So, neither constructing nor installing stairs are jobs for a DIY amateur. Even if you’re just repairing a staircase, you should allow a professional to do it. Simply because it’s very important to understand the construction methods before you can repair one safely. Hopefully, this article will give you information that’ll help you decide what type to buy and more importantly, who to install one or do some staircase renovation for you.

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What are they made from? 

These days, most staircases have the treads (horizontal bits you stand on) and risers (vertical bits you don’t stand on) covered in carpet. So, it doesn’t matter what they’re made from. If you have exposed stairs in an expensive house,  it’s common to use a hardwood like oak. For an average house, built up to the 1990s, stairs were made from softwood like pine. However, joiners construct most modern carpet-covered staircases from engineered timber products like MDF, plywood or chipboard. Mainly for cheapness and strength. 

A basic plywood and MDF staircase with 13 risers would cost about £600 excluding VAT to construct the kit. Then, onsite, installation labour charges will make the cost go up to between £1,100 and £4,000. The time taken to construct the stair kit in the workshop by joiners will vary depending on the size and complexity of the task. But,  the time taken by a carpenter and labourer for fitting a staircase will be about 1 to 2 days. To install the other fittings, which we’ll talk about later, will probably take another day or so. Furthermore, if you intend to replace a staircase, then you must first remove the old one and dispose of it.  And, this will increase the overall costs too.

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How Much Does a New Staircase Cost?

As mentioned before, stair construction and installation costs will vary depending on size, style and material. Let’s look at some detailed staircase prices and you can determine which one is likely to be nearest to your choice. 

Staircase type  Average purchase cost  Average installation cost  Duration  Total cost 
Straight one storey softwood  £500  £600  2 days  £1,100 
Straight one storey oak  £1,000  £650  2 days  £1,650 
Spiral oak (basic)  £1,700  £1,100  3 days  £2,800 
Straight glass stairs (basic)  £1,500  £1,000  3 days  £2,500 
Spiral metal stairs (basic)  £1,300  £1,100  3 days  £2,400 

 Of course, the total price of any of these could rise to well over £5,000 depending on how complex the design or installation turns out to be. And, you have the choice between various materials to give you a wooden staircase,  glass or metal staircase, or even a combination of more than one material in the same staircase. 

As an extra to your new stairs, but also a safety necessity as they’re specified in the Regulations. You need balusters, spindles, handrails and balustrades, depending on the design. The average cost of a new bannister and spindle set will be between about £50 and £200 per metre, depending on the material used.

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Types of Staircase: Advantages & Drawbacks 

The different staircase materials have their benefits and disadvantages. Moreover, these and the corresponding prices all have a bearing on your choice, when you’re considering your finished staircase. 

Man-made engineered woods 

These are low priced, massproduced materials, cheap to make and use. The joiner or carpenter doesn’t have to take into account the weaknesses of real timber with splits, shakes and knots. Engineered boards won’t warp and the specifications are exactly what the manufacturer intended. The main disadvantage when using these materials is that they aren’t particularly pretty to look at. Therefore, cover the engineered boards with paint or carpet. A big advantage to this type of staircase is that you can usually buy one in the form of a selfassembly kit form a local builders merchant stores. 

Softwood stairs 

These materials were the cheapest until the invention of dense man-made boards. Softwood stairs were traditionally made from 9 or 12inch wide Parana pine stringers (the straight lengths that run diagonally up the side of the stairs), deal or pine treads, and plywood risers. These were either painted or carpeted or sometimes varnished to show off the grain pattern. These were the cheapest of staircases and were easily constructed and installed. However, softwood isn’t very durable and over time, will warp and dry out, causing creaks and split staircase components. These are at best, annoying. Or, at worst, dangerous.

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Hardwood stairs 

Probably, oak is one of the commonest hardwoods used in stair manufacture. Generally, hardwoods are strong, durable and have a longer life than their softwood counterparts. They also look very attractive and give a feeling of sophistication and elegance. However, the wood is also more expensive to purchase than other types, and, needs a far more skilled professional to construct and install. Finished hardwood is traditionally stained and varnished, or polished, rather than painted. Meaning, any errors or defects in manufacture or installation can’t be hidden and will show up immediately. 

Because hardwood is stronger than softwood, it’s often used for wide and open staircases and those with a more complex design. 

Metal stairs 

This material, usually used for spiral staircases is extremely strong and durable. Spiral stairs need a material that can support its own weight easily, as well as looking good and being easy to install.  Usually, cast iron or stainless steel are the commonest metals used, as these are attractive to look at. Also, because the metal is stronger than wood, the crosssectional area of each component can be smaller, resulting in a lighter and more sturdy structure.  

Alternatively,  sturdy steel beams and RSJs often make exterior fire escapes. Although these don’t look as pretty, they’re cheap, won’t rot or collapse, easy to install, and provides better fireproofing than wood. We should mention here that the Building Regulations specify that spiral stairs, whether made from metal or wood, must not be the primary or only access to another floor. This is mainly a safety feature, as spiral stairs aren’t easy to navigate and allow only one person to use them at a time. 

Glass stairs 

Stair manufacturers use specially toughened glass to produce balustrades and treads. Often this type uses chromed or stainless steel to provide the structural framework and uses glass to provide an open, light and airy atmosphere. Useful if you want lots of natural light in the room.  Glass will also provide the illusion of space. Often, this is vital if you haven’t much room to work with. Furthermore, glass stairs need very little maintenance and will last for many years. Toughened glass is expensive to buy, but installation charges aren’t as high as you’d think. Often, they’re comparable with a hardwood staircase.

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How To Fit A Staircase: Step-By-Step 

Fitting stairs isn’t a DIY operation. And anyway, installing a complicated staircase design takes a lot of technical knowledge. As such, we won’t be talking about these in great detail. Instead, we’ll just look at how we fit a basic single storey staircase, made from man-made engineered board. 

Initially, you must demolish the existing staircase to make way for the new one. This is a relatively simple job, easily completed by a general builder and labourer in a day, using simple tools. The important thing is to stay safe and not to damage anything other than the staircase. A general builder costs about £250 per day, while a labourer costs about £100 per day. A skip for waste removal costs between £100 and £200. 

Assembly 

A staircase must be selfsupporting when assembled. By this we mean, a supporting trimmer joist must support it at the top. While, at the bottom, use either a concrete floor or another structural trimmer joist. Any other fixings, such as screwing the stringer to the wall are incidental. 

A normal floor joist isn’t strong enough to support a staircase. So, the professional must fit a trimmer joist of suitable strength to give the required support. A structural engineer will specify the size of joist needed for the size and weight of stairs. But, these are usually a double floor joist bolted together. 

Cut a notch out of both stringers at the top so they can sit on the support joist. Ensure the top tread stays level with the finished floor. 

At the bottom, cut the stringers to match the height of the skirting board. Support the bottom of the staircase at the downstairs finished floor level. 

Once the staircase is in position, screw the stringers to the wall, ground floor and the firstfloor trimmer joist. Only install screws in hidden places. For example, underneath the treads.

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Moving the stairs 

If you want to move the old staircase to a new position, you must get a structural engineer to design the appropriate trimmer joist where you intend breaking through the ceiling. You will also have to support all the existing joists where you cut through the downstairs ceiling and upstairs floor to make the stair opening (stairwell). Once again, a structural engineer will design where the trimmer joists will be supported, and their sizes.  

One more thing we must mention is that the original tradesman cut the existing staircase to fit the place where it was installed. However, if you decide to change its position, there will be no guarantee that the distance between the ground floor level and top of firstfloor joists will be the same. So, it might not fit without a lot of alteration. This is one of the reasons to use a qualified carpenter. They will always know whether you can alter a staircase to make it fit, or whether you need a new one. 

As far as repairing an existing staircase is concerned. Once again, you need to use a qualified carpenter who will know how to carry out repairs without the staircase falling apart. 

Factors Affecting New Staircase Installation Costs 

The main price comes from the price of purchase and installation of the staircase. But, there are other relevant factors which will alter the price. 

  • How much work must you do to prepare the supporting joist and trimmers around the stairwell? 
  • The purchase of the structural timber to construct the stairwell and to support the existing cut joists. 
  • To box in underneath the stairs to hide the unattractive bits. If you intend building an understairs cupboard then boxing in the stairs won’t be necessary. 
  • Do you need to have any electrical wiring done for a light switch at the top and bottom of stairs? And a pendant light overhanging the stairs. 
  • One of the Building Regulations states that stairs must have a form of natural light. Do you need to add a window somewhere to provide this? 
  • How many balustrades do you need around the upstairs landing areas? Walls might enclose some upstairs landings, while others open onto the stairwell, and need a barrier to prevent falls. Your architect’s drawing will state the specifications. 

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Top 5 Tips: Hiring A Carpenter 

  • Does the carpenter have a good working knowledge of the UK Building Regulations regarding stairs? Not only are the design and construction regulated, but also the installation is too. Two important installation regulations to remember are, that the pitch of the stairs must not be more than 42 degrees and there must be at least 2m headroom above the treads. 
  • The carpenter must have relevant insurance to cover damage to property and persons in case he produces faulty work. 
  • Always ask for a quotation in writing. In fact, ask for three from separate individuals and compare them. Reject the two extremes and if you’re happy, settle for the one in the middle. 
  • Will your carpenter liaise with the Building Control Inspector or will you? Ultimately, you are responsible for notifying them, doing the paperwork, and paying the fees. However, you can delegate this to the professional if you aren’t sure what to do.

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UK Planning Permission & Building Regs 

Unless you live in a listed building, you won’t need Planning Permission for a new flight of stairs. 

Many Building Regulations govern the design, construction and installation of stairs and staircases. The important Regulations deal with fire safety, access, structural stability of the staircase and the stairwell cut into an existing floor. If you find them too complicated, it’s much better to speak to your local Building Control Office for advice on the way forward. You can contact them through your local county council. 

New Staircase FAQs 

What is the best flooring for stairs? 

Although carpets, as a stair covering, might seem to be slippery, they certainly aren’t as slippery as bare wood or other types of floor covering. Furthermore, if you do slip on carpeted stairs, you probably won’t hurt yourself if you land on a soft carpet. 

How do you refurbish a staircase? 

The best ways are to repair any creaks and squeaky treads and to replace the handrails. If you cover the treads with carpet, it doesn’t matter if they look tatty. But, the other points will always notice. 

What can I put on stairs instead of carpet? 

You can cover your stair treads with a vinyl floor covering. Or, if you want something classy, try fixing tiles to the treads. There are many types available such as small mosaic to terrazzo, ceramic and stone tiles. Unfortunately, tiles are heavy and will add considerable weight to your staircase. So, check that the stair structure and upstairs joists will be strong enough to support the extra weight. 

Is it safe to put tile on stairs? 

To accept tiles as a floor covering, the staircase treads must be flat and solid, without any springiness. You must also check that the supports will be strong enough to take the extra weight. 

Is hardwood on stairs slippery? 

The simple answer here is yes. However, you can make hardwood treads less slippery and add traction by adding a carpet. Alternatively, you can add anti-slip stair treads, or a coat of an anti-slip floor finish onto each tread. 

Is it better to paint or stain the stairs? 

Generally, paint is less durable than a stain. Also, you’ll find that painted treads will scuff and chip, showing through to the undercoat or bare wood below. In contrast, if varnish chips, the stained wood underneath won’t be affected and you won’t notice any difference. On the other hand, if you have a tired and worn out stained staircase, you will find that the cheapest and easiest way to transform it is to apply some paint. 

Find Staircase Suppliers & Fitters

Fitting a new staircase isn’t an easy job for the DIY enthusiast. So, why not consider hiring a qualified and experienced carpenter. Simply, complete the form on this page and you’ll receive 2 to 3 quotes detailing new staircase costs from stair installation companies near you. 

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