Are you struggling for space in a small hallway in your home? Looking to re-jig a landing to reveal more valuable foot room? If your answer to these questions is  ‘yes’ – or even just a frustrated sigh – then paddle stairs could be the perfect solution for you.

Many homes simply don’t have the square footage for a standard staircase. If spatial constraints are an issue in your home, this can make traditional straight flights, or mid-floor landings, unrealistic choices. However, there are still some great options available with our range of space saving staircases. Practical and attractive paddle stairs can still have the effect you’re looking for, whilst taking up far less space than their more conventional counterparts.

At Abbott-Wade, we’ve been installing new staircases across the country for more than 20 years, including many flights of space-saving stairs. We consider ourselves staircase experts at this point, so our guide to paddle stairs will explain everything you need to know.

What are paddle stairs?

There are many names for paddle stairs, including paddle flights, space-saver stairs, paddle treads and alternating tread staircases. Whatever you prefer to call them, we’re here to tell you why paddle stairs could be the problem-solver you’ve been searching for.

A paddle staircase is a compact staircase that has alternating treads rather than regular steps. This allows the staircase to have a steeper gradient, therefore requiring less space for the same number of treads. The difference is that paddle stairs are more like half-treads.

The name comes from the unique shape of the treads, which look a bit like a boat paddle. When you look at them from above, half of the steps will resemble a horizontal letter P, and the other half on the opposite side will be mirrored (like a flipped horizontal P).

They’re often called space-savers or space-saving stairs because they take up much less room than a conventional staircase. This makes them an ideal choice for accessing loft conversions, galleries and mezzanine floors, or other rooms where stair space is at a premium.

How do paddle stairs work?

The treads of paddle stairs are laid out similarly to a ladder, though not as steep, with the largest part of each ‘P’ shape providing a foothold. With each step up or down, the person ascending or descending must stand on alternating treads to match each foot.

Most people have a favoured foot that they usually start off on when climbing stairs. For example, a right-handed person might start with their right foot, because that side is stronger. You must make sure that the starting tread matches your starting foot, whether left or right.

Since part of the tread is cut away to save space, there are more concentrated stress spots, so paddle stairs must be made from sturdy material and installed securely by a professional. They should not be collapsible or on rollers, as this puts your safety at risk.

Are there building regulations for paddle stairs?

Yes, all paddle stairs must comply with the guidelines in the Building Regulations Approved Document Part K. Installing such a staircase that doesn’t follow this guide is considered unsafe and illegal.

The pitch of the stairs – the angle formed by the line of the floor at the bottom and the line along the nosing of the treads – must be no steeper than 42°. It must be a straight flight of stairs, with at least 2000mm of headroom (2 metres) for the people ascending or descending.

The maximum tread rise (vertical height) must be 220mm, and the minimum tread going (horizontal length) must also be 220mm. It should have handrails on both sides, even if it’s against a wall. Most importantly, it must not be the dwelling’s main staircase, and should only access one room.

Whilst it’s popular to opt for a straight flight of alternating tread stairs, it’s possible to achieve different arrangements. Choosing an L or U-shaped configuration for your paddle stairs could free up even more of your valuable floor space.

If your staircase has a drop in excess of 600mm, then balustrading will be necessary to avoid the risk of falling. We usually recommend our 15mm frameless glass balustrades for our space saving paddle stairs. Thicker than our 10mm standard toughened safety glass, they provide more light flow than wooden spindles – a must when space is at a premium.

All Abbott Wade paddle stairs are expertly constructed in line with current UK building regulations, so they’re guaranteed to be 100% safe. Manufactured from the highest quality timber, our space saving stairs will not only free up some room in your home, but will look sleek and stylish, too.

Unfortunately, building permissions can still vary from county-to-county. Some places allow paddle stairs to bedrooms or ensuite bathrooms, while others insist that the room they access must be non-habitable. Check with your local building control department before committing to paddle stairs.

Benefits of space-saving stair design

The biggest benefit of paddle stairs is obvious – they take up less space than a linear or modular staircase. The steeper gradient means a flight of paddle stairs can be up to half the size of a traditional flight, saving at least a third of that space for other things.

Another benefit is that paddle stairs look very unique. They can provide a visually interesting feature in an otherwise boring space, and you can make them even more appealing by painting or staining them. Paddle stairs can even incorporate different materials like timbermetal, and glass.

Since paddle stairs are a fixed feature, they’re sturdier and safer than a ladder or folding steps. It’s also faster and more convenient to climb securely installed space-saving stairs. Additionally, paddle staircases often cost much less, as they use less material in their construction.

Install paddle stairs with Abbott-Wade

If you’ve discussed the legalities of paddle stairs in your home with the local authorities, and you’re ready to start designing your staircase, the expert team at Abbott-Wade can help. We’re an award-winning and environmentally friendly business, well-placed to manufacture paddle stairs.

We’re not exaggerating – the Parliamentary Review named us ‘Best Practice Representative’ in 2019. Plus, we picked up back-to-back National Family Business Awards in 2017 and 2018 (‘Best Small Business in the North West’ and ‘Customer Service Award for the North West’ respectively).

Contact us today to discuss our space saving staircases

If you’d like to free up some square footage in your home with our space saving paddle stairs, get in touch with our experienced team whenever you’re ready. We’ll be happy to advise you on the best staircase for the style and layout of your home.

We can renovate a staircase in just one day and recycle any leftover materials. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch, and book a consultation to discuss your dream paddle stairs. Give us a call on 01744 634 442 or email us at for a response as soon as possible. You can also receive a free quote by filling out our online contact form.

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