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Centre Stringer Stairs| An Architect Explains

Centre stringer stairs also called mono-stringer stairs utilize a central stringer (structural element) to support the treads. The stringer is generally not very apparent as it is located centrally, underneath the treads. However, in some cases, like in open, curved/spiral stairs, it is visible. Then it is treated like a design element without aesthetically overwhelming the other staircase elements. The advantage of centre-stringer stairs is that they promote a sense of lightness and openness.


When compared to traditional closed or enclosed stairs, mono-stringers require the use of relatively stronger materials  in order to single-handedly  support the treads. In fact, the design of centre-stringer stairs is one of the more expensive construction methods and should be done in consultation with a structural engineer.


WOODEN STAIRS: In the example below, a heavy-section, central wooden stringer is used. It gives solidity to the stairs but overwhelms also.
Wodden centre stringer staircase
With centre stringer stairs, you need to use heavy sections to support the treads

A cheaper option is to have the stringer and tread supports made of rectangular steel or aluminum tube sections, cast-in-shop and fitted with wooden treads as shown here below.

Steel Centre stringer staircase
Steel or Aluminium Tube section is used as a centre stringer

An even cheaper option is to use steel T-sections for the stringer and tread supports as seen in the picture below. Treads made of wood or glass or stone can be placed on the T-Sections.

Steel T-section supportson centre stringer stairs
Steel T-section supports for treads on a centre stringer

METAL STAIRCASES: Metal stringers are common but metal treads are not that popular due to the fact they are too smooth and get worn out over time. But  they are strong and can tolerate external atmospheric elements. Hence, roughened metal staircases like the one shown here are popular in industrial applications and as fire escape stairs outside buildings.

metal centre stringer staircase
Metal treads fixed on metal centre-stringer are suitable for external fire escapes

STONE STAIRCASES:  Stone treads like Marble, granite and corian are the next preferred option after wood. But they should be made of thick sections otherwise they may break or sag at the ends.

Natural stone on metal stringer stairs
Natural stone, marble or corian treads on a metal centre stringer

In this picture below, note the sagging ends of the corian treads because of their excessive length and the narrow, central stringer.

corian treads on centre stringer stairs
Corian treads on metal centre stringer stairs

Here is an example of marble treads supported on a central concrete stringer. Due to the heavy concrete stringer, a glass balustrade has been used to make the staircase appear light.

Concrete centre stringer stairs
Marble treads on concrete centre stringer stairs

GLASS STAIRCASE: To admit light into a space through the multiple levels, the best option is a glass staircase like the one shown here.

glass treads on metal centre stringer staircase
Glass treads on metal centre stringer stairs

So, there are different styles possible with the Centre-stringer staircase. The same holds good for other types of stairs such as Two stringer and Cantilever stairs.

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