Designing a flight of steps involves careful calculation of elements such as step depth and breadth (the dimensions of the tread), step height or rise (the dimensions of the riser), room height, landing size, and desired angle of ascent, not to mention wood type and finish. As far as style goes, the most attention usually is paid to starting steps – that is, to the first step one encounters when going up the stairs. There are many options for beautiful and functional starting steps.
Square Starting Step
A square bottom tread is a simple solution for a flight of stairs, as the railing attached to it immediately starts ‘climbing’ the stairs.
Volute Starting Step
The most common starting step, this step is so named because it accommodates a decorative volute rail fitting. A volute step typically protrudes about 12” from the side of the staircase.
Turn Out Step
Protruding only about 7” from the side of the staircase, the turn out step accommodates a turn out rail fitting. This step is a useful alternative when a volute step would protrude too far into a hallway.
This starting step doesn’t protrude at all from the side of the staircase, thus allowing maximum clearance in walkways while providing a decorative curve. With a quarter-round starter step, the railing starts on the second step, which gives more room for approaching or exiting the staircase.
Bowed Tread Starter Step
Any of these starter step types can be executed with bowed treads – making the leading edge of the step and corresponding riser bowed or curved. This added decorative look can be further enhanced by bowing the first four of five steps consecutively, decreasing the bow gradually until it fades into a straight leading edge.