There are five documents, which give guidance for the design of stairs (and application of associated Stair Nosings) for use in buildings with public or shared use:
- Building Regulation Document K – Protection from falling
- Building Regulation Document M – Access to and use of buildings
- BS8300:2009+A1:2010 – Lighting of stepped access & slip resistance
- BS9266:2013 – Design of accessible and adaptable general needs housing
- Building Research Information Paper – IP15/03: Proprietary nosings for non-domestic stairs
It all appears very confusing since within these documents there are also 5 aspects/topics, which are applicable to Stair Nosings and need to be considered by specifiers. The chart below summarises these as they appear in each document.
The principle and an overriding requirement is contained in the Building Regulations (Document K) where it is stated that:
“Stairs, ladders and ramps shall be so designed, constructed and installed as to be safe for people moving between different levels…….” – Jump straight to this section of Part K
Which in lay terms (and for the partially sighted in particular) achieving this requirement means that the Stair Nosings create a ‘ladder effect’ to the stairway when viewed from either the top or bottom. This can help users identify the nose of the steps more safely when descending or ascending.
The five aspects/topics (see chart above) which contribute to the attainment of this ‘ladder effect’ are:
1) The recommended dimensions of Stair Nosings:
Building Regs (K&M), BS8300 and BS9266
These state that the tread should measure between 50-65mm and the riser 30-55mm. This ensures there is a large enough ‘band’ on the nose of the step. (Actually there is a small variance between the documents, but the consensus is now that the dimensions as shown meet the requirements).
2) The LRV colour requirements of the Stair Nosing tread and riser:
Building Regs (K&M), BS8300 and BS9266
The colour of the Stair Nosing is required to differ from that of the floor covering. Every colour has a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of between 0 (Black) and 100 (White). The documents indicate that there should be at least 30 points difference between the Stair Nosing LRV and that of the floor covering, e.g. If the floor covering has a LRV of 50, then the Stair Nosing should have a LRV of between 0-20 or 80-100. This helps create the ‘ladder effect’.
3) The slip resistance of the tread surface of a Stair Nosing:
Building Regs M and BS8300
The tread material used in a Stair Nosing is important for the safety and performance of a stairway. There are two recommended tests that can be carried out to determine the slip resistance of a flooring material. The pendulum test (PTV) and a surface micro roughness measurement (Rz). Either of these can be used to give an indication of the slip resistance of a material, although the Pendulum method is limited in so far as it cannot be used to test material on site.
4) Guidance about the coverage of the tread material on the top surface of the Stair Nosing:
The tread is the surface of the Stair Nosing which receives ascending or descending footfall. The IP states that the Stair Nosing tread material should extend to the front edge to the point at which it meets the vertical face in order to minimise the risk of a slip in descent.
5) The assistance provided by a tactile surface at the approaches to a stairway:
Corduroy Tactiles (not the blister finish– the type used on pavements at crossings) should be installed as a hazard warning surface on the top and bottom approaches of the staircase, which will warn pedestrians that they are approaching a staircase. The regulatory documents give details of the dimensions for these approach tactile areas.
There are a number of other considerations that should be made, when wishing to create a ‘best practice’ staircases, these include looking to avoid:
- Bull nosed steps – these can create a trip hazard to partially sighted users, who use their foot to find the nose edge of the step.
- Open riser steps – again these create a trip hazard.
- Shiny metal – as these can create glare in artificial or direct sunlight.
- Double channel Stair Nosings (too wide to meet the 55-65mm requirement)
In a refurbishment project avoiding these conditions might not always be possible. In such instances the aim
should be to ensure there is a good contrast Stair Nosing on the steps – at least creating a positive ladder effect in order to clearly identify each step.
These ‘guidelines’ are just that – guidelines. Technically they are not mandatory; evidence of this is common in the market as so many installations would not meet the criteria outlined above.
Nevertheless, specifiers should be encouraged to follow the guidelines wherever possible, since Stair Nosings that meet these guidelines do actually help to make a stairway safer and thereby reduce the element of risk for users ascending or descending.
For individual product information and further details visit Quantum Floorings range of stair nosings on SpecifiedBy.
All Building Regulations are free to download from the gov.uk website or can be accessed in a user-friendly web format from SpecifiedBy here: https://www.specifiedby.com/building-regulations
British Standards can be obtained in PDF or hard copy formats from the BSI online shop: www.bsigroup.com/Shop or by contacting BSI Customer Services for hardcopies only: Tel: +44 (0)20 8996 9001, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Information Paper IP 15/03 is available from the breshop: http://www.brebookshop.com/details.jsp?id=144607