If you’re looking for an easy way to add spaciousness to your living space, floating stairs certainly fit the bill. This design uses exposed risers and hidden stringers to make steps appear to, well, “float.” Since these floating stairs look so fashionable, it’s no wonder that more homeowners are curious how much they cost. If you’re thinking about adding floating stairs to your home décor, please read all of the research we’ve done on the topic.
Floating stairs could cost anywhere from $3,000–$30,000. The reason these stairs have such a wide price range has to do with their high degree of customizability. Factors that significantly impact a floating staircase's price include your desired tread material, handrails, staircase design, and your home’s floor-to-floor height.
Floating stairs certainly add flair to your home décor, but are they right for your budget? Please keep reading to find out how expensive these stairs are and whether they’re safe for your family.
How Much Do Floating Stairs Cost?
People interested in floating stairs should prepare to pay $3,000 for a “low end” design. However, it’s more likely that the final cost of your floating stairs project will “hover” in the $5,000–$10,000 range.
That being said, there are some instances where floating stairs could cost in the $30,000 range or even higher. Typically, if you’re paying this much for your floating stairs, it’s likely you’re adding a lot of unique design features.
What Features Affect The Price Of Floating Stairs?
To get a better idea of how much floating stairs will cost, you must understand how specific design features influence price. Let’s run through a few of the most common features to look out for when shopping for floating stairs.
How High Is Your Climb?
The most noticeable feature that determines the price of your floating stairs is your floor-to-floor height. A taller staircase means you’ll need more labor and more materials, which leads to a higher price tag. It’s important to note that carpenters must add a landing if your staircase goes over 12 feet. As you could imagine, landings will always add to the final cost of your floating staircase.
FYI: if you’re putting your floating staircase near your front door, you’ve got to check out our previous post dedicated to decorating split level entryways.
Straight Or Curved? Which Design Costs More?
Spiral stairways certainly look spectacular, but the final price will make your head spin! Indeed, many professional studios claim that curved stairways are the priciest design choice. Instead of starting at $3,000, curved staircases often begin at $9,000.
Simple, straight stairs will always be your most cost-effective option. The less complex you make your design, the lower the price will be.
What Wood Finish Are You Working With? – How Tread Material Affects Price
After you’ve considered the shape and height of your floating staircase, it’s time to look down at your steps. You could use many different materials on your treads, but let’s focus on the most common material: wood.
If you’re looking for the most inexpensive tread, then we’d suggest starting your search with varieties like ash or red oak. Wood types like hard maple and hickory tend to fall in the mid-range category. Lastly, those looking for expensive wood options might be interested in varieties like American cherry or white oak.
On top of the wood material you’re using, you have to consider how thick your tread pieces will be. Although 3.5-inch “butcher blocks” offer fantastic stability, they will cost you more. You can also expect an additional fee if you opt for special custom finishes on your wood designs.
As you could imagine, the average price for wood treads fluctuates wildly, but most carpenters say you should expect to pay $100 to $600 per tread.
If you’re concerned that your wood stairs will clash with your décor, you might be interested in our post titled What Color Wood Floor Should You Choose?
Metal Or Glass Tread Materials
Although metal and glass aren’t as common as wooden treads, they are viable options worth a brief mention. Just keep in mind that most people reserve steel treads for outdoor staircases, and glass treads are super expensive.
Carpenters estimate standard metal designs range from $100–$500 per tread. On the other hand, non-slip glass could easily cost as much as $1,000–$1,500 per tread.
Extra Cash For Extra Safety – Railing Materials
Although some people omit to add a railing to their floating stairs, that’s not a wise choice from a safety perspective. Sure, a “railing-less” staircase will save you money, but it will put you and your loved ones at a greater risk of injury. Even if your state’s safety code doesn’t require railings, it’s strongly recommended to add them for additional security.
If you’re going to add handrails to your floating staircase, you have a few choices for the railing’s infill and the exterior material. From least to most expensive, these are the top three choices for railing infills: cable, rod (or solid bar), and glass. You could also choose between lower-end aluminum or higher-end stainless steel railing materials.
As with all of the other features listed above, there’s no standard price for railing systems. However, a reasonable estimate is $150–$300 per linear ft.
Are Floating Stairs More Expensive Than Standard Stairs?
On average, floating stairs will cost more than standard stairs. Indeed, a traditional staircase should cost in the $1,000–$2,000 range, but floating stairs begin at $3,000.
Are Floating Stairs Safe?
Along with cost, people are often concerned about the safety of floating stairs. Since floating stairs have openings between treads, they certainly look scarier than traditional staircases. However, looks can be deceiving.
Keep in mind that all floating staircases have to meet strict safety regulations developed by the International Residential Code (IRC). As long as your staircase is IRC-approved, it’s almost as safe as a traditional staircase.
Here are the two top IRC standards your floating stairs must meet:
- Floating stairs must carry a minimum of 200 lbs. per square foot
- Each stair should have an open riser of no more than 4’’
Although not all states require adding a handrail to floating stairs, it’s highly advised you do so for extra support.
The truth is that all stairs carry risks, especially if you have little ones in the house. No matter what staircase design you choose, please remember to invest in a strong baby gate to keep kiddos off these stairs.
How Can You Make Floating Stairs Safer?
If you don’t feel 100 percent safe walking on your floating stairs, there are a few tools you could use to enhance their safety. For instance, many people like to add non-slip treads to each of their steps. These easy-to-find products add a bit of friction, which will help you maintain stability as you go up and down the staircase.
For those who don’t like the look of these non-slip treads, you could also research heavy-duty grip tape. As the name suggests, this tape is designed to keep your feet stable on any surface. For extra protection, be sure the tape you’re looking at is waterproof.
How Thick Are Floating Stairs?
The average range for floating stair thickness goes from 1.5 inches up to 3.5 inches. While every tread thickness should support at least 200 lbs. per square foot, 3.5-inch “butcher blocks” offer the best stability and durability.
How Long Does It Take To Install Floating Stairs?
The duration of your floating staircase installation depends on the complexity of your project. However, professional designers say they can usually install a simple designer staircase in about one to two days. If your project is more specific, it could take about a week to install floating stairs.
Interestingly, it often takes longer to design your floating staircase than to put it together. Depending on how hands-on you are putting together your project, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to months to complete your template. Please take as much time as you need during the design phase to ensure everyone shares your aesthetic vision.
Are Floating Stairs Worth Your Money?
Floating stairs can add a touch of class to your interior design, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. On average, you have to be prepared to pay more for floating stairs versus traditional models. However, the price of floating stairs varies depending on multiple features. For a more accurate price estimate, be sure to write down your design preferences and specifications before speaking with a professional carpenter.