Regulations & Standards
Timber stairparts from Cheshire Mouldings have been independently tested. This means that they conform fully to the domestic requirements laid down by UK Building Regulations Part K, relating to guarding and resistance to horizontal force. Relevant British Standards for compliance are BS585 Part 1 1989 and AMD 6510, concerning wooden stairs and their fixings; BS5395 Part 1 2010 about straight stairs; and BS6180 2011 with its code of practice for protective barriers.
As stated, the Cheshire Mouldings balustrade systems conform to domestic standards as set out in Building Regulations Part K. This asserts that “The guarding should be able to resist a horizontal force of 0.36kN for each metre of length if it guards a private stairs”. Cheshire Mouldings spindles have also been tested in accordance with BS610.
Private Stairs are those for use in a single private dwelling and have a maximum rise of 220mm and a minimum going of the same 220mm.
Assembly Stairs or institutional stairs serve where a significant number of people gather.
The maximum permitted rise is 150mm, the minimum going 280mm.
All Other Stairs must have a maximum rise of 190mm and a minimum going of 250mm. Approved Document M deals with access and facilities, plus maximum rise of stairs, for disabled people.
Rise and Going relationship is detailed in Approved Document K, which informs you that twice the rise plus the going (2R+G) should be between 550mm and 700mm.
Pitch is the angle between the pitch line, or notional line connecting nosings, and the horizontal. Regulations state that the maximum pitch of domestic stairs must be 42 inches, semi-public stairs such as in factories and offices must be a maximum 38 inches, with stairs in fully public places a maximum 33 inches.
Handrails are governed by Approved Document K. Flights of stairs must have a handrail on at least one side if they are under one metre wide and on both sides if they are a metre wide or bigger. Handrails are not required beside the bottom two steps.
Handrail heights are 900mm minimum for domestic stairs and landings. but in public areas the handrail heights must be 900mm on stairs and 1100mm on landings.
Balustrade openings are also subject to Building Regulations. No opening should allow the passage through of a 100mm sphere.
Finishing off your stairparts
A variety of applications
There are many available options for finishing off your stairparts. The most commonly used are wood stains or dyes, protective wood stains, paint, varnish, oils, French polishing, and, for coarse grained wood, liming.
Wood stains or dyes
Staining penetrates the wood and will enhance the colour. It can also neutralise natural colour variations in the timber. Quick drying, stains or dyes are normally rubbed in along the grain with a cloth. Be aware that they will not seal the wood, so varnishing or polishing will be required as well.
There are clear, matt, satin and gloss varnishes, plus tinted versions, all providing you with a heat and water resistant, durable finish needing very little maintenance. Coloured varnishes, however, do not penetrate the wood, so add one or two coats of clear varnish to help prevent colour loss.
Liming – unslaked lime and water – comes into its own for coarse grained woods such as oak. When dry, it needs rubbing down with glasspaper, then coating with French polish, finally a coating of white polish. An easier method involves mixing white matt emulsion with water, to about the consistency of milk, then brushing it on before sealing with two coats of satin varnish. Easily applied liming wax is also available.
Protective wood stains
Unlike standard wood stains or dyes, the protective variety seals the wood. Normally applied with a brush and because it is quick drying, further coats can be applied at approximately two-hourly intervals: but check the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can use oils to seal hardwood – not recommended for softwoods as they discolour and dirty too easily. There’s plenty of choice and application is straightforward, either by cloth or brush. Some will accept varnish for protection.
New timber needs a coat of primer and at least one application of undercoat before the topcoat of gloss is added. Use what is known as a knotting solution on any live knots and resinous areas to prevent seepage through on to the finished surface.
Layers of French polishing, a mix of alcohol and shellac, will provide an excellent gloss finish, although it is easily scratched and damaged by liquids or anything hot. Two-part plastic coating is a more hardwearing alternative, designed to provide resistance to scratches, liquids and heat.
Looking after your timber.
It is important that timber is left in the room where it is to be used, or a room with similar humidity, for at least two days to avoid post-fitting shrinkage or expansion. Wood exposed to heat will shrink.
Exposed to moisture it will expand. It is just as important to seal your timber once it has been installed, by painting, staining or varnishing.
• Note that because timber is a natural product there can be minor colour variation between pieces.