Steel stairs are commonly found in industrial buildings, parking garages and other commercial structures. They are low maintenance and very resistant to fire damage, making them ideal for public building applications. The components of steel stairs are similar to the components of stairs built with other materials. Some stairways are constructed out of a combination of materials, for example a steel stairway frame with steel handrails and concrete stair treads.
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Steel stair treads may be made from a solid face of steel or out of a steel grid. The latter style is more common for exterior applications such as fire escapes. The steel grid weighs less than a solid step, making it easier to attach to the outside of a building, and is less likely to develop problems with puddles and ice build-up. Interior steel stairs may be of a utilitarian nature such as those found in a parking garage, or they may be finished and installed as part of a luxurious modernist interior.
A stair riser is the vertical part of the stair that extends between treads. In open stairs, there is no riser at all, just a space. Steel utility stairs often have no risers, since the purpose of a riser is primarily aesthetic. Risers sometimes add strength to a stair, but this is unnecessary in a steel stairway because steel is already so strong. Risers in finished steel stairways may be included for security reasons or for aesthetic purposes on steel stairways that are included in more visible areas.
The railing is where steel stairway craftspeople have the chance to express themselves. While the stairs themselves need to be kept flat and level, and therefore offer few opportunities for aesthetic expression, railings have been used for both safety and aesthetic delight for centuries. The workability of steel enables it to be made into many engaging forms that can fulfil the need for stairway security while still beautifying the interior where it is located.
The stringer of a stairway is the part underneath the tread that supports the entire structure. While wooden stairways usually have stringers on the sides supporting a closed stairway, steel stairways often feature open stairs with two stringers mounted toward the middle. Steel stairs can even be welded to a single stringer in the centre, creating a minimalist stair-climbing experience that can be a bit unnerving. The tremendous strength of steel allows manufacturers to build cantilevered stairs that can easily support a person's weight.
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