There are a lot of misconceptions around spiral and helical stairs, with a lot of people referring to any set of stairs with a curve or wind as a spiral staircase. However, whilst helical and spiral staircases are similar to each other, there are some key differences between the two. We’ve outlined the differences below:
Spiral vs Helical Stairs
The difference between helical and spiral staircases is actually quite easy to understand when you know what you’re looking for. Fundamentally, a spiral staircase has a centre column which supports the treads. On the other hand, helical staircases are a lot more varied in shape and have no central column.
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.
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 are an incredibly efficient solution when it comes to getting between floors; saving a lot of space vs a helical staircase.
Helical staircases require a larger floor space and a sizeable opening in the floor to accommodate them. However, they make for a stunning design feature, which makes them popular if you’re looking for a focal point in a room or reception area.
If you have mobility concerns or have young children, a consideration is that whilst both spiral and helical stairs have consistent riser heights and tread depths, a helical stair is easier to use as the tread depth is usually much greater.
Helical stairs are the more expensive option of the two and depending on the materials and size, a helical might be several times more expensive than a spiral counterpart. This is because that central column to support the treads, along with construction methods and the grade of materials required, impact the overall costs of construction.