How did Stair Nosings become a standard feature on stairs?

The origins of the product known as a Stair Nosing (or stair edge), a protective safety edge on the nose of steps, is not important enough to be officially recorded. However, a clue to its known history is in one of its key features namely safety. In particular slip resistance, since it was from the company of Ferodo that specialised in the manufacture of friction materials, that Stair Nosings first appeared during the 1950’s – and it’s not possible to be more precise than that!

Based in Chapel-en-le-Frith in Derbyshire, as friction product specialists, Ferodo was the world’s most renowned producer of braking materials for anything that moved with rotating parts; carts, cars, trucks, trains, planes (when on the ground!) industrial equipment etc. Initially all the friction materials produced were made of woven asbestos impregnated with resins; well proven to dissipate the heat generated by braking. Asbestos continued to be the base material for brake linings and pads until Health and Safety caught up with the serious risks to health posed by this material.

An early Ferodo product development programme came up with another use for the woven asbestos cloth. Strips cut to step widths and put around the nose of steps considerably reduced the risk of slips on stairs, and then subsequently to stop fraying at the edges, an aluminium ‘carrier’ soon followed. The Stair Nosing as it is now known was born.

Asbestos has long since been removed from the treads used in Stair Nosings; pvc, rubber based and silicon carbide or carborundum materials now provide the slip resistant surface needed to help the products attain one feature of their safety function. Colour contrast and durability are other performance functions of these products since their installation also provides a visual aid to the steps position and also protects floor coverings used on step treads from unnecessary wear. Aluminium is still a favoured carrier material, although PVCu with its colour options is an alternative that is becoming more and more specified.

Despite the shortcomings of the original treads, Ferodo nevertheless introduced a product that has been proven to enhance the safety of stairs around the world for over 60 years, as British trained specifiers have become involved in construction projects internationally. The brand of Ferodo Stair Nosings is no more – other companies have taken over the baton, and through product design have developed profiles that accommodate all modern step shapes, sizes and flooring coverings.

The features that Stair Nosings offer to the finish of stairs have now become embodied as guidelines in current Building Regulations, British Standards and a BR paper. This document has been compiled to identify the specific features of Stair Nosings that can help specifiers, contractors and users meet these guidelines when completing a stair design, construction or installation of a staircase that has access to commercial. public or shared residential foot traffic.

For more information or help with a specification visit or call 0161 627 4222. Stairs nosings are a standard feature on stairs, and they save lives.

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