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Spiral Stairs

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By Joe in Ruskin, FL on 7/4/2007

I have started to get firm pricing on the smaller of two spiral stairs for outside use.  The stairs do have to meet code requirements which, from what I can read, deals primarily with width, tread, rise, spindles, etc.  All over the internet, places advertise the ready to assemble kits for prices that range from $500 to $1,500.  When I go to the sites and put the info in - a little over 11 ft with 4" spindle spacing, in either aluminum or galvanized (building in a salt water environment), the price for this smaller unit rapidly goes up to the $7,000 to $9,000 range.

In that I have access to metal machining equipment, am I asking for trouble by considering attempting to build the first one myself and see how it goes?  It appears that, other than forming the treads with a brake, it is mostly aluminum tubing for the primary pole, spindles, and railing.  The kits all appear to bolt together and, although I know it will take time, I can't imagine my material costs being all that much.

Also, would I need specific plans from a structural engineer?

Joe H


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By Anonymous on 8/9/2007

The Iron Shop

We have been pricing spiral staircases for our deck/patio combo and they were around $5,000-$7,000. Today we found this one that comes in under $4,000 and that is for 6'.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 8/9/2007


I have been to the Internet sites for many a prefabricated stair supplier. In addition to obvious code violations (mostly related to handrails, but others as well) I would be very skeptical about ordering one of these systems. Coupled with the extravagant cost on most of these (I say most, there must be one out there that is reasonable although I never found it), I would proceed with caution.

That said, if you have the fabrication capability, I can't imagine it would be very difficult. I would start by calling my code official and getting a copy of the code requirements in your jurisdiction. I would draw them up in a nice blueprint, and ask their opinion. In my area the code people were always willing to help, and they knew me on a first name basis and had my fax number memorized by the end of my project. They were an invaluable resource for questions such as this.


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By Bob in New Florence, PA on 10/13/2007

Actually most of the bigger places for spiral stairs are very good about codes and they follow them down to the smallest detail. Here is an example of one of them and this is what we showed to our inspector and he said that it is fine, In our area as long as the specs are good and you have a copy of the schematics the inspector is decent to work with.

Building Code Specifications

Salter’s Code Stair Packages will address each of the requirements that are listed below. This information will apply to the BOCA Code, UBC Code, the CABO Code and the IRC 2003, IRC 2006, and IFC 2006 codes.

1. Minimum clear walking path 26", 5 ft. diameter or larger.

2. Tread will have a minimum of 7 1/2", 12" out from the narrow edge of the tread.

3. Minimum headroom of 6' 6", measuring plumb from the edge of the platform down to the tread below.

4. The rise will not be more than 9 1/2".

5. The stairway shall be equipped with one handrail on the wide edge of the tread.

6. The handrail, in individual dwelling units, not less than 34" and not more than 38", measured vertically above the nosing of the tread and landing. ( BOCA is 30" up to 38" )

7. Balusters shall be spaced so a 4" object cannot pass between the balusters.

8. Balcony railings will be 36" or above.

9. Landing width ( that Salter supplies ) shall not be less than the required width of the stairway. Minimum spiral stair tread width is 26".

10. 1 1/2" OD. Aluminum, Brass or 1 3/4" wide x 2" tall oak handrail.

11. A 300 lb. concentrated load is required. All Salter stairs are calculated to carry 600 lbs. or more concentrated load.

Please have your inspector review the specifications before placing your order.

Inspector Signature ____________________ Date________________

Salter's standard code package will not address the open space between each tread ( open rise stair ). If your code, IRC 2003, IRC 2006 or IFC 2006, requires not more than a 4" space in this area, you will need to order our code risers.

Verify what handrail size and shape your inspector will require. Handrail size and shape is becoming a very controversial area within the building code. We recommend that you use our standard 1 1/2" round rails or our 1 3/4" x 2" wood rails for the proper circumference.


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By DCG in Lago Vista, TX on 6/23/2008

If fabricating, pay attention to requirement #2 above -- it's easy to miss that one... It'll require CAD or some very detailed scale drawings.

In TX, we've found that it's less expensive to frame in a spiral that climbs the interior of an octaginal "tower" area.  This is vs installing two 6' free standing spirals, at about 9' of height each.


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