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The History of Spiral Staircases

Spiral staircases are often praised today as a stunning design feature within a home or business, as well as a practical and space-saving invention. Although the exact date of origin is somewhat unknown, what is known is that their history dates back centuries with its concept believed to be over 3,000 years old! Often described as an architectural phenomenon, the spiral staircase has come a long way from its origins, and has a long future ahead! Find out more today:

What is a Spiral Staircase?

A spiral staircase is a set of steps that rise around a central axis. This means that every step, or every few steps, will result in a turn of up to 360 degrees when ascending or descending. There are several different types of spiral staircase which can be categorised in different ways. For example, they could be classified by the materials used in the making, in the type of spiral (helical, spiral, double spiral, double helix), or in the number of turns completed on the journey (quarter-turn, half-turn, three-quarter-turn, full-turn).

Spiral Staircases Uses

It was during the Middle Ages that spiral staircases became a popular structural feature. They were originally designed as a defence mechanism in castles that homed royalty. The idea behind it was that the narrow, clock-wise winding stairway would be a disadvantage to right-handed swordsmen coming to attack, as they would then have to use their weaker left hand to carry their sword. The spiral staircase feature would also mean that the soldiers could only enter the towers or castle one-by-one, rather than in mass. Some even went as far as to make the steps uneven, causing the men to stumble and fall. The inhabitants of the castle would then have had an extra few minutes to prepare for an attack or escape to safety.

Not long after the introduction of staircases for defence, they were also much sought out by the wealthy as a symbol of status and power. It became the latest fashion to have grand spiral staircases constructed in palaces all over the world –a trend which is still popular today!

In modern-day, there is little need for these staircases as a means of defence; however, they are still highly valued for space-saving and aesthetic purposes, both indoors and out. As they tend to be custom-built, they fit perfectly into every space and can be tailored to meet specific needs. Spiral staircases are also no longer only accessible to those of great wealth, as the materials now cost much less, and innovations in technology make the designing and crafting process easier.

Spiral Staircase Materials

During the early days of the spiral staircase, the most common materials for building these structures were stone or marble. This meant that the stair would be durable, hardwearing and stable for a very long period of time. They were typically built into the walls during the initial building of a structure and did not hold much aesthetic appeal. The methods of crafting spiral staircases varied significantly from place to place, with some being built in individual steps, whilst others were created from large blocks of stone for greater stability.

Today, spiral staircases are made out of a wide variety of materials, with stone and marble still proving popular alongside steel, diamond plate, wood and even glass!

Evolution of Spiral Staircases

In the early days of these grand staircases, the steps were often secured to a central pole holding the structure together. However, as the understandings of architectural practices grew over the centuries, ways were uncovered in which there could be an empty central cavity, where one could observe the view of the staircase over the bannister. This gave the designers and builders greater flexibility in design and meant that so much more was possible.

Once an incredibly laborious and time-consuming feature, modern developments in manufacturing and design mean that a spiral staircase is now accessible to all.

The late 20th-century saw the introduction of spiral stairs in a kit form, typically made of steel, where the pieces simply needed to be bolted together. The low-cost and ease of use of this product proved popular for a short while before bespoke and custom design became the forefront of innovation for spiral staircases.

Custom-made spiral staircases are now becoming increasingly popular, offering a unique addition to a space that can fulfil several needs.

If you think that your home or business could benefit from a practical steel staircase or an elegantly designed glass stair feature, why not get in touch today? We can help you to find the perfect option, from the designing and manufacturing stages right up to the installation with our bespoke steel fabrication services in Devon.