STRAIGHT STAIRCASE | An Architect Explains

A straight staircase can be defined as one having a single, straight flight of stairs like a ladder that connects two levels or floors in a building. A straight staircase is one of the oldest and most common types of staircases found in buildings.

Straight stairs are the easiest to construct and have a wide range of advantages. The straight staircase generally has one straight flight of stairs, or sometimes two separated by a landing part way up. As an Architect, I have listed guidelines here under the following headings to help you in the design of  straight staircases, :

What are the advantages of straight stairs?
What are the disadvantages of straight stairs?
What are the different types of straight  stairs?


Simplicity:  Some people prefer the simplicity of a straight staircase.
Many Design Options:  Despite its simple form, different types of materials can be used to make the Straight stairs unique and attractive.
Convenient and functional:  Straight stairs are very convenient to use.
Affordability:  A straight staircase is cheaper than other types of staircases such as U-shaped or curved because of it’s ease in construction.
Ease of Construction:  A straight staircase is the most easy to design,  construct and install among staircases.
Uninterrupted View:   A person walking up or down the stairs has a clear view of the entire flight, so he is at a lower risk of bumping into someone going in the other direction.
Safety:  Because a straight staircase offers a clear view of the stairs, there is a lower chance of falls or misplaced steps.
Stair lift:  It is easy to accommodate additions like a stair lift that is a necessity for people with mobility issues.
stair lift fixed to a straight staircase
It is easy to install a stair lift to a straight staircase



Lack of privacy:  Because there is no visual barrier between the two floors connected by a straight staircase, there is often a lack of privacy. This is sometimes awkward in buildings that house multiple families on different floors.
Falls can be Serious:  A straight staircase often consists of more treads than a staircase with landings. As a result, a fall from the top of the stairs could result in serious injuries.
Uncomfortable for older people: The lack of a landing can be tiresome for older people who have to climb all the stairs at once.
Requires More Space:  Straight staircases require more linear space as compared to curved or platform staircases.


The commonest type of straight stairs is the two-stringer staircase with stringers (supports) on either ends to support the treads. The stringers are “cut” to show the profile of the treads and risers from the side.
Straight, two-stringer staircase with cut profile

Or the stairs have “closed” stringers that does not show the profile of the steps. In this case the steps are supported by what looks like two straight, solid beams running at the bottom of the balustrade.


Nowadays, open stairs which have open treads, that is without risers, are more popular since the form of the staircase can be seen from all angles. See picture below.

Straight, open staircase with open treads


Another way of supporting the treads in straight stairs is with one central stringer. These are called centre-stringer stairs (mono-stringer stairs). Normally, the steps in this type of staircase are open so that the central stringer is highlighted. See here.

Straight, centre-stringer staircase with open treads


In some cases, there is no visible stringer and the steps appear to cantilever out of a wall (see the image below).  These are called cantilevered-stringer stairs. In this type, usually there is a concrete or steel stringer embedded within a wall, to which the treads are fixed.

Straight, cantilevered, wooden staircase

To enhance the straight line of the stairs, sometimes, a carpet runs along it’s length.
A runner carpet on a straight staircase enhances it’s length

The stairs shown in this post are just a few examples. Innumerable types are possible with the imaginative use of different materials for the treads, risers, stringers, balusters and railings.

While Straight stairs have their advantages, the Straight stairs with landings are an improvement. For more information on other stair shapes go to:  Stair Shapes.

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