Building regulations stairs

As professionals that build stairs, you need to take in consideration the UK regulations when building or refurbishing a staircase for your customers. The document that contains these regulations is Part K from the Building regulations, Protection from falling, collision and impact. The part about Stairs, ladders and ramps is contained in Part K1 of the document. We will focus our attention on this.

Stairs, ladders and ramps shall be so designed, constructed and installed as to be safe for people moving between different levels in or about the building. This document and its regulations apply only to stairs which form part of a building. 

Steepness of stairs – building regulations stairs

All the steps form a staircase need to have the same rise (See image 1).

Measuring rise and going - building regulations stairs
Image 1

Going. Rise. Pitch.

Depending on the place where the stairs are being built, there are some differences in the practical limits for each category (See image 2):

a. For private stairs (domestic houses), the max rise is 220 mm, and the min going is 220 mm. Maximum pitch: 42°.

b. For utility stairs, the max rise is 190 mm and the min going is 280 mm. Maximum pitch: 33°

c. General access stairs (all other buildings): max Rise = 170 mm; min going = 250 mm. Maximum pitch: 38°.

Maximum and minimum rise and going for stairs
Image 2: Approved Document K, 2013 Edition, Page 5

The construction of the steps: All the steps should have level treads. In the case of open risers, the distance between the risers must not allow the passing of a 100 mm diameter sphere.

Headroom: it is recommended a headroom of 2 m on the access between levels.

Landings. Building regulations stairs

  • Should be clear of permanent obstructions (e.g. a door may swing across a landing at the bottom if it leaves a clear area of at least 400 mm). See Image 3.
  • Should be level. There is an exception and the landing may have a gradient if: the maximum gradient along the direction of travel is 1:60 and the surface is paved ground or otherwise made permanently firm.
  • Should be guarded at the sides.
Building landings next to doors regulations - building regulations stairs
Image 3

Handrails for stairs. Building regulations stairs

  • If the stairs are less than 1 m wide, they should have a handrail on at least one side. Stairs should have handrails on both sides if they are wider than 1 m.
  • It is not mandatory to have a handrail on the first 2 bottom steps (if the stairs are used by people with disabilities, you should check Approved Document M from the Building regulations, Access and facilities for disabled people).
  • The handrail height should be between 900 mm – 1000 mm in all buildings – measure this from the pitch-line of the stairs to the top of the handrail. For the landings, the handrail’s height should be between 900 mm -1100 mm.

Spindles for stairs. Guarding of stairs

  • Flights of stairs and landings should be guarded when there are 2 or more risers. See image 5.
  • The distance between the spindles must be less than 99 mm. A 100 mm sphere must not pass through the spindles at any time. See image 4.
The Distance between spindles - building regulations stairs
Image 4
Guarding stairs building regulations stairs
Image 5: Approved Document K, 2013 Edition, Page 24

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Also, if you need help building or renovating stairs, check our staircase renovation tutorials.

*These regulations were taken from Part K from the Building regulations, Protection from falling, collision and impact (2013 Edition). Please refer to the Planning portal for possible updates.