Stairs Design

What Stairs are Good for a Tiny House’s Loft

stairs to the attic of a tiny brown house
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A tiny house, what is that can be?

A tiny house is a house for sure, but logically tiny, namely smaller than a small house. In the US the average size of new single family homes in 2013 is 2,662 square feet or 247.3 m2. A small house has the size range from 400 square feet to 1,000 square feet. But a tiny one has a 400 to 80 square feet size range.

The tiny house became then the core of a movement named after its terms: tiny house movement. The movement commenced in the 1970s. The on wheels version of such houses was popularised by Jay Shafer who lived in a 98 sq ft house.

The movement found its revival in 2007-2007 due to a great recession in the economy. People’s interest in such a movement grew because it offered housing which is affordable and ecologically friendly. In 2012 a tiny house may cost somewhere between $20,000 to $50,000.

An inch square of the interior space of a tiny cannot be wasted, the whole design of the house needs to be able to keep the interior look and feel spacious for human dwelling, while actually it is tiny. We find such a rule in the development of car or train wagon interior designs. The interior has to be able to house anything necessary for a human stay, but still provides convenient space for human moves, standing, sitting and laying.

But a tiny house cannot be good for claustrophobic persons. It will surely horrify them.

Stairs for a tiny house’s loft

white stairs small house with decorative lights on the side
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The interior design of a tiny house can include lofts, if we need more space for bed or storage, by exploiting the height of the interior space. But if horizontal space still spares you some space for such purposes, the loft cannot be the first option.

The loft is possible to be used for a bed due to the fact that we design such a loft with the height still allowing our sitting and laying in there. Its use for storage does not require that the height of the loft allow us to sit in there.

A loft needs an additional structure for its accessibility. Such structures can be a staircase or a ladder. A ladder claims surely less space than a staircase, but we find less ease in using it than with a staircase. For a handicaped or elderly persons, a ladder can be hard to use. A staircase is not as difficult as a ladder to climb.

If the choice falls on staircase, here is the principle to follow in installing a staircase: that the staircase has to be safe, easy to use, good to look at, and reclaim space as small as possible. You need to design any element of such a staircase in accordance to such a principle.

We do therefore not want to have a loft with a staircase that can easily cause injuries to the user. A safe staircase but difficult to use is not what we want. A safe and easy to use staircase but ruining the beauty of the interior of our tiny house is also undesirable. A good looking, safe and easy to use staircase which is too big or too small for the interior is simply absurd.

Types of tiny house staircases

a kind of tiny household ladder with a drawer underneath
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Among popular staircases, we have several types to pick.

  1.  A pull out staircase is what you expect to have if you are after a minimalistic feel in your tiny house interior. The staircase is modular because it is able to disappear into the wall, sparing good space for storing things and mobility. For using it, you need to pull in open, and climb it and fold it away again. Adding a railing on it, the staircase will be a lot safer for children.
  2. We may have a spiral staircase for our loft. This staircase’s steps are designed to turn around a pole leading up to the loft. The safety of this kind of staircases is a lot greater than to regular staircases. Spiral staircase saves lots of space.
  3. You may have drawer staircases, if you simply do not want to waste spaces under the stairs. The hollow area between stairs can be designed to be drawers for books, clothes, towels. The only downsides of such a design is that the things stored in the drawers may catch dusts from our feet. And the idea that the staircase dirts our stuff is not good to have.
  4. When space is what to spare as much as possible, a skinny staircase is what will fulfill your wish. The space that such a staircase occupies is minimum. But it is less easy to climb. We call such stairs floating ones.
  5. Instead of installing a staircase or a ladder, another solution for making the loft accessible is by making it adjustable, specifically we add some rail to make us able to lower or raise the loft by hand. It is fun to have no stairs or ladder in our interior.

A ladder for a loft in a tiny house

attic staircase ideas that can be stored or propped against the wall
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A ladder for your loft is the most efficient way to have access to your loft while wasting less space for accessibility. The absolute advantage of a ladder is that climbing a ladder is less easy than climbing a staircase. If the neat and spacious look of your tiny house interior is what you prefer, ladders for lofts are what to build.

Designs of ladders today allow us to have those which can be stored away or leaned on the wall when not in use. Such designs do complicate the use but due to the necessity to put it into place before using it. But if you are fine with such a difficulty then the ladder contains no problem for you.

The use of ladders for accessing a loft recalls their use in the interior of a warship or submarine. In the latter’s case, a staircase is simply absurd. And the most common ladders in those interiors are wall ladders. They are the simplest and most effective ladders to build.

In a warship the mobility of the structure leads the designer to build furniture stuff which does not easily fall down in the case of shock. The ladders are not of exception, even though they were among parts of the interior which are designed to endure frequent climbs. In the case of a towable tiny house, such a wall ladder is highly recommended.

Innovative ladder designs for you

innovative ladder designs for you
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  1. To appease the downsides of ladder in a tiny house, some designers invented ladders that will make you able to store away the ladder when not in use.
    A fold-up slanted ladder is a good choice to assure that we can still have spaciousness when the ladder is not in use. We have hinges on the top of the ladder to attach it to the loft and make it likely to fold up.
  2. A fold-slide ladder, we can fold and slide it away. To store the ladder, we first fold its first leg up behind it and take it back. And then we slide it and store it into a cubby inside the wall.
  3. A wall ladder looks like a decorative element on the wall. And such camouflage makes the ladder psychologically not a ladder, but decorative stuff on the wall when the rails have nice luxury finishing.

Staircase’s dimensions for a tiny house

staircase dimensions for a tiny house with a bookshelf on the side
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For the safety purpose, the International Residential Code obliges that a tiny house’s staircase has to have a tread of close to 20 inches minus 4/3 of the riser height; the headroom is no less than six feet and 2 inches; the height of steps can be no less than seven inches and not more than 12 inches; we have to install handrails for the staircase.

The minimum width of a loft staircase is 17 inches above the handrail, but has to be more than 20 inches below the handrail. 20 to 25 sq ft are needed for the staircase if we are complying the code. But some tiny houses have smaller space for the staircase. But the matter of building a comfortable staircase has something to do with the right proportion for the treads and the risers.

Folding stairs are amazing

side stairs open and close ideas
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Bcompact, a design company from Australia, invented the fold-away Hybrid Stairs. The stairs provide you the chance of saving space when the staircase is not in use by folding it away into the wall. Another producer is from Germany, which designed the “Klapster” folding stairs. The two stairs designs are similar but their mechanisms differ.

What is amazing in those two designs is the possibility to make the staircase disappear. The disappearance of the staircase gives us more space for our sight and bodily moves. The presence of a staircase is essentially a disturbance for our interior space because the latter is our space for staying, and not moving. While, the staircase is essentially not a space for staying or sitting or laying, but for moving. The mixture of the ideas of sitting and moving in a single interior space ruins the harmonious order of things in our mind. The folding stairs enable us to avoid the confusion, so that we can preserve the harmony of things in our mind.

Storage stairs for your tiny house, a.k.a. tansu stairs

storage stairs for your tiny house
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Tansu stairs are among stairs designs that maximise the use of space under the staircase. Many people love the stairs for some reasons. First, the stairs give a lot more space for storage compared to a simple staircase or ladder. Second, they have a really unique look and are highly customizable to your particular needs. Third, they give more safety to use than a ladder.
But there are also reasons why such stairs can be a bad choice. First, they consume more time to build and install, because we make the stairs from a number of different-sized box cabinets. After we finish the boxes, we need to fit and fix them together. Second, they cost more than regular staircases. Third, they reclaim more space.
The tansu stairs can have no look of stairs: they are and look indeed box cabinets, but we can climb them to get to the loft. Psychologically such stairs which do not look like stairs make us feel more comfortable to stay in the room under the loft: we have less chance to imagine that someone climbed up or down the cabinets.

How to find the number of steps for a DIY tiny house stairs

find the number of steps for a diy tiny house stairs
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Assuring that the dimensions for the stairs are correct is the most challenging part in designing the stairs. Here we outline steps to take for making sure the number of steps:
1. Find out the height that the stairs are going to have. It is the height from the first floor to the loft floor. The height of the stairs is called the rise.
2. Measure the space that the stairs demand. The longer the space, the less steep the stairs will be, and vice versa.
3. Decide the target tread depth, and divide the run by the number of treads.
4. We can get the exact measurement for the tread by dividing the run by the number of treads.
5. Determine your riser height and divide the run by the number of the risers.
6. We measure the height of each tread by dividing the run with the number of the risers.
For getting the height of the riser we can use the formula R = H/(n+1). And for knowing the length of the tread we can calculate with the formula T = L/N. R is the riser’s height. T is the length of the tread. N is the number of steps. H is the height from the floor to the loft. L is the length of stairs.