Many buildings and residential homes require stairs to get from one level to another. Today, general contractors and homeowners have many options when it comes to designing a staircase for their area. There are a variety of stair materials to choose from, but the most common are: wood, steel, and precast concrete.
The choice of the material you will use to build the stairs may be influenced by several factors, including:
- Cost: You can only use what you can afford. Sometimes you have to balance between cost and durability.
- Durability: You may want to go for materials that will last for as long as possible
- Availability: You can't use what isn't available in your area. You may need to look around to see what is available.
- Personal tastes and preferences: You may go for what you want or what your client wants. Some prefer wood, while others may choose steel to match their business theme.
While there are several options to choose from, the most common materials used are wood and steel.
Steel Stairs vs. Wood Stairs
Steel and wood are two prominent stair materials that are frequently used. Determining which one is best can be tough, because each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Here is a rundown of each material, and its pros and cons.
Steel stairs have gained popularity recently, especially in homes, offices, and business premises. They are a replacement for concrete stairs which are known to be expensive and difficult to construct.
Most people prefer metal because of its flexibility and durability over other materials. You can fabricate them into different shapes, styles, and choose your own paint colors.
Here are the pros and cons of a steel stair:
- Durable: Steel stairs can withstand a lot of stress over long periods of time.
- Flexible and Versatile: It's easy to fashion them into different designs and styles, allowing them to match the aesthetic or function needed for your space.
- Easy to Install: Most metal stairs come prefabricated, meaning no assembly is required. In most cases, all you have to do is bolt the stairs down and they are ready to be used.
- Can be Noisy: Steel stairs may echo throughout the facility when people walk over them, this may create issues if they are located in an environment that requires little to no volume (e.g. libraries, universities, etc.) However, you can add some carpeting that will help dampen the noise.
- More Expensive: Steel is usually more expensive than a wood stair.
Wood stairs have also been around for quite some time. Wooden products add a classic element to facilities and homes, as well as a touch of style and richness.
While it won’t last as long as steel, it performs exceptionally well when treated to delay the natural degradation process that results in its wearing and rotting away. When wood stairs are painted or polished to a gleaming look, it can last longer.
But environmental concerns across the globe mean that wood will become rare, as agencies work to limit the cutting down of trees. Trees may become more expensive to use, and people may have to look for other alternatives.
Here are the pros and cons of wood stairs:
- Affordable: Wood is generally cheaper than metal.
- Gives a more natural finish: Wood stairs give a warmer and more natural finish to any building, which makes it a popular option for most residential homes.
- Quieter: This material tends to be quieter when people walk over them compared to metal. This means you will never have to worry about echoes sweeping through the facility when someone steps on them.
- Durability issues: Whether treated or untreated, durability is a major issue for wooden products. A wood stair won’t last as long as a steel stair because wood deteriorates faster.
- Prone to Pests: Can be attacked by pests and eaten or damaged.
- Weaker than Steel: Wood isn't as strong as metal, and may break with heavy or continuous use.
While there are certain benefits of wood stairs, you may want to choose steel stairs because of their numerous benefits over their wooden counterparts. Steel is much stronger and long-lasting compared to wood. It is also much easier and cheaper to install than wood stairs.
Is It Possible to Combine Steel and Wood Stairs?
It is certainly possible to combine steel and wood stairs into one. A popular way this is done is by creating the frame and railings of the stair in metal, and then using wood treads. This creates a more custom look and gives you the durability of steel stairs.
Get Instant Pricing for Your Steel Stair
PWI created Stair Zone so you would have an easy-to-use online stair builder. You’ll have instant pricing and fast drawings available. We are experts in various designs of steel stairs to suit every style and building. Our 30 years of experience and professionalism go into the production of every steel stair to satisfy all our clients. Build a stair today and get instant pricing . If you need something more custom, you can call PWI directly at (574) 646-2015 and we will work with you personally.