We often find there’s a misunderstanding of what makes spiral staircases and helical stairs. Given the vast majority of staircases are generally straight, many people refer to any set of stairs with a curve or winding steps as a simple spiral. But while helical and spiral staircases are similar, there are some key differences to look out for when identifying which is which.
Spiral v Helical Stairs Difference
The difference between helical and spiral staircases is actually fundamental and pretty easy to spot when you know what you’re looking for. At its most basic, a spiral staircase has a centre column supporting the treads. Helical staircases, meanwhile, are much more varied in shape and have no central column. In essence, if it has a void in the middle of the staircase, it’s helical (curved).
Spiral Stairs form a complete circle which is the diameter of the staircase. This is generally between 1400-2000mm on domestic spirals and 2000mm + on commercial models. The depths of each step are uniform and equal and the handrail normally runs around the perimeter.
Helical Staircases, sometimes known as ‘curved stairs’, often form a continuous “C” shape with a larger, consistent radius. They can, however, be made to form an oval or elliptical shape configuration.
No Central Column
The key difference between the two different shapes is that a spiral staircase has a centre column supporting the treads whereas a helical staircase has a void in the middle – it has no central column.
In terms of floor space – Spiral stairs tend to win this one, they’re monsters of efficiency and an extremely popular choice for getting between floors whilst saving a great deal of space.
Helical staircases tend to require a large space and a sizeable opening in the floor to accommodate them but are often designed to be the focal point in a room/reception.
Whilst both spiral and helical stairs have consistent riser heights and tread depths, a helical stair is certainly more easy to use as the tread depth at the tightest point is much greater.
Price is, of course, a big factor to consider and helical stairs are always going to be the more expensive option. Depending on the materials and size, a helical might be [ ] size times dearer than a spiral. Without that central column to support the treads, construction methods and grade of material required dramatically alter the cost.
However, if you’re after a real architectural feature for your home or business, a helical staircase provides the most striking of looks, especially if the design is a free-standing feature, away from the wall.