Have you checked your pergola or deck stairs lately? Over winter, it’s easy to ignore any problems that might be surfacing. But once the nice weather comes and your family start to spend more time outside, problems with your stairs may quickly become safety issues.
But before we run through the things to look for, let’s talk about the components of a staircase and their Australian Safety Standards.
Correctly designing an outdoor staircase is strictly regulated
Designing a staircase – whether it’s inside or outside – is highly technical and strictly regulated. The Australian Standards are very specific regarding the size of each:
- Tread (that’s the flat part of the stair your foot uses)
- Riser (the vertical part of the stairs between each tread)
- Going (that’s the horizontal distance between each riser)
There are also regulations on the maximum number of stairs you can have without adding a landing, as landings are used to minimise a fall. When designing a staircase and landings, you must also take into consideration the amount of garden area they require and the aesthetics of how they fit with the design of your home and garden.
For outdoor stairs, there are also requirements to ensure they are non-slip. There are several options, including the addition of:
- Anti-slip additives to the finish coating
- Grooves or texture embedded into each tread
- Adhesive tape on the front of each tread
Handrails are important too
The Australian Standards also specify the handrail requirements for staircases. For instance, every staircase needs at least one handrail, with wider stairs requiring 2 handrails – one on each side. There are also safety specifications for the height of handrails and the maximum amount of space allowed between each vertical baluster or horizontal wire.
How do you know if your outdoor stairs need replacing?
There are 5 signs to look for when deciding if your outdoor stairs need replacing. They are:
- Rot or insect damage to timber stairs. This will be seen as bits of timber coming away, cracks in the timber or even soft spots in the wood. In addition, your decking stairs may squeak or creak when used or when there are strong winds.
- Crumbling concrete or chips in the stair treads are signs the concrete has deteriorated. Crumbling or chipped stairs are a definite safety hazard.
- Wobbly handrails, balustrade or stairs. This is a clear sign they are a safety hazard and should be replaced.
- Your stairs feel steep to climb or the treads seem too narrow to comfortably fit your foot or the staircase is high and doesn’t have a landing. If you experience any of these things when using the stairs to your deck, it could be your decking stairs are old and don’t comply with modern Australian Standards. Or perhaps they were built illegally and never complied with Australian Standards.
- You simply feel unsafe using your deck stairs. Your feelings of comfort and safety are just as important as any of the above because well designed deck stairs should feel safe, sturdy and secure.
We can help
At Mid Coast Pergolas and Decks, we’re here to help you create an outdoor haven – and that includes ensuring access from your deck to your garden is safe and secure.
If you love your deck but feel your stairs or balustrade are no longer safe, get in touch with us. We design and build beautiful, functional and compliant stairs and balustrades so you can make the most of your garden and outdoor entertainment areas.