Stairs can be costly. Determine your priorities for your home so you can decide on an elegant front staircase or a more basic back stairway. This is a big-ticket item, so think this through carefully. Ask your homebuilder to help you with the options and get good quotes on the cost.

Stairways and hallways are not just transitional spaces that lead from one room to another – they also present wonderful design and decorating opportunities. A well designed staircase in your entryway draws the eye and sets the tone for the whole house. Start cutting out pictures of staircases and stair elements that catch your eye; these pictures will help you later when it’s time for the selection process. Consider visiting a showroom to view their library of photographs and see samples of the many wood species available. The goal is to be sure you are comfortable with your selections and really understand what the end result will look like in your new custom home. Take time and make sure you know clearly what you are getting. For those who love wood, it often helps to think of the staircase as the largest piece of furniture in the house.


The first question to ask yourself about your staircase is how important is it to view your staircase from the main foyer of your home? This question is often answered by cost. Most homeowners don’t even think about the cost difference between a grand, open staircase and one that is less visible in the home. It’s important to know this up front, so you can make informed decisions about where to spend money. If your heart is set on a grand circular staircase in the front foyer, you will need a highly skilled craftsman, and, as you expect, the cost can run as much as 10, 20, or 30 times as much as a less visible, less decorous staircase. A handrail alone is not as simple as just mounting it on a sidewall. It involves detailed templating and fabrication, often done offsite and then brought to the job and installed. The type of staircase you choose will be determined by the size of your budget.


A staircase that isn’t visible to the main part of the home can be built considerably less than an open staircase in the foyer or other places. A back staircase is generally closed on both sides by drywall and usually has a simple wood or iron handrail attached to one sidewall. Because there isn’t as much detail, the cost of labor is much less compared to an open stair – an experienced trim carpenter can get the job done for just a few thousand dollars.

To read more about designing and building stairways and hallways, including information on front staircases, how to handle wear and tear, how to choose handrails, lighting your stairway and much more, please order your FREE copy of Mike Robare’s book: INHOUSE Creating Your Dream Home Room by Room.

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