Introducing: The All New Exterior Staircase Range
We’ve had a lot of people ask if we can manufacture an Exterior Staircase . The answer up until now, has been ‘No’. The reason, simply, that our metal staircases aren’t designed to withstand the elements they are exposed to outdoors. But this wasn’t good enough…
At The Metal Staircase Company, we love a good design challenge and the excitement of releasing a new product. After all, good design is the key principal this company is built upon!
Needless to say, our design team assembled instantly!
We first started to analyse our current methods and came up with a list of points that would need considering when designing and exterior staircase:
- Is the material choice suitable for outdoor use?
- How can we prevent water from settling on treads?
- Will the glass balustrade need cleaning more outside?
- How can we make our design stand out in comparison to the rest of the exterior staircase market?
Choosing the materials and finishes
One of the big concerns with mild steel is that it is highly susceptible to corrosion, especially outdoors. This is one of the main reasons why powder coat our components, not just for aesthetics, but to prevent the steel from rusting and corroding. Although powder coating alone is enough to protect it indoors; outdoors, the powder coating is subject to much higher moisture levels and UV damage.
After speaking to a host of experts in the metal finishing industry, it was decided that we should galvanise the steel before powder coating it, giving a rust free coating. Galvanising is a process where the components is coated in a layer of zinc, by dipping it in a bath of molten zinc. This finish alone is fine for outdoor use, although leaves a silver finish which looks quite crude. The powder coating will give a second layer of protection and provide a more appealing finish.
The most popular timber we use is white oak. This is an excellent species for outdoor use due to its density and durability, which is naturally less susceptible to rot. The only issue, is that if untreated will discolour (often turning black).
We felt it was important to find an alternative for those that didn’t want to continually maintain the finish of the timber. Again we researched many alternatives and Iroko came up at the top of the list. This is a species similar to Teak and is perfect for outdoor use. It has a high resistance to rot and insect attack and will only grey over time if untreated. Its cost is comparative to oak and with it commonly used for decking and gates, it was the obvious choice for our exterior staircase design.
Glass is perfectly fine for outdoor use, with many companies already using it on their external staircases. We felt the only issue likely to arise would be the amount of cleaning due to water marks. That and the fact we wanted to set ourselves apart from the crowd. We set about coming up with an alternative, perhaps in steel.
Designing an exterior staircase
It was important to us that we could offer similar designs outdoors as we do indoors, but there were several issues that needed to be overcome. By focusing on these details alone, we could keep the overall appearance, but still create a well rounded external staircase.
The tread design we adopt for our interior range was floored, relying solely on the timber for its structure wasn’t going to be good enough outdoors. As it is an organic material, it is prone to movement with the ever changing temperature and moisture levels. We decided to create a steel frame, which mimicked the design of the interior stairs but is still able to house timber elements, bring warmth and a suitable contrast to the materials choices. We designed the tread frame so that it doesn’t fasten directly to the stringer, but would sit 15mm off the face so that water would pass through. Similarly with the spacing of the timber slats, a 2mm gap between steel and timber would be created for water to pass through along with the underside left open.
Having conducted some market research on current design trends, it came quite apparent that glass is dominating the staircase market, indoors and outdoors, and for obvious reasons. There was however, a revolution in the making, a revival of past styles. Spindles are back!
Spindles are usually associated with traditional styles, however staircase designers are now taking a much more minimalist approach to spindles design. Keeping lines clean and crisp together with the use of bold colours, it creates an ultra-contemporary aesthetic, reminiscent of the art deco era. Needless to say we joined the revolution and felt this was great option for our external staircase design, but also to add in to our balustrade styles.
The outcome is an ultra contemporary-industrial style staircase complimented with timber elements to soften the appearance, more suited to the home. This is just one of our ideas and by no means the only. All of our designs can now be made to suit the outdoors, whether you want glass or spindles, steel or timber. Why not mix and match different features from our range to create a unique design to you!