Structures: All stairs must be kept structurally sound. Don’t forget to examine the basement stairs, too. Check the area where they meet the floor and where they are attached to the floor joists above to make sure there are no problems.
Width and Clearance: Stairways should have a minimum headroom of 6 ft and 8 in., and width of 3 ft. to ensure swift entry.
Treads and Risers: The riser of a stair is the height of the step, and the tread is the step’s depth. Tread depths and Riser heights should be as uniform as possible. All treads should be secure and level. As a guide, stairs in new homes must have a minimum tread depth of 10 in. and a maximum riser height of 7-3/4 in. The maximum difference in height for risers and depth for treads should not exceed 3/8-in.
Guardrails and Handrails: You can check a railing’s fastenings and stability by shaking it. Handrails are normally required to be 34 to 38 in. above the stair nosing on at least one side of all stairways having three or more risers. Guardrails are also required on open sides of stairways and should have intermediate rails that don’t allow the passage of a sphere 4 inches in diameter.
Lighting: All exterior and interior stairways should have lights to illuminate the stairs, including treads and landings. Interior stairways should have a light at each landing, except where a light is installed directly over each stairway section.
Smoke Detectors: In addition to having them installed in hallways and bedrooms, smoke detectors should be installed above stairways. They should be located near or on the ceiling, away from corners, and near the heads of stairs. Periodically check if all smoke detectors are working properly by pushing their test buttons.
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