Why are Stair Nosings Important?

Stair nosings are important in a number of ways. Firstly, they are useful for extra grip at the edge of each step, to prevent slips. Next, they ensure a flat and safe surface to minimise trips and falls. Finally, they visually mark out the step edge from the rest of the step. There are other considerations, depending on circumstance. However, these are the vital issues for any stair nosing. Stair nosings consist of carriers, which attach to the steps, and tread material which sits in the carriers. Carriers can be attached to steps in two ways. These are screw fixing, or with a contact adhesive such as Q-Fix. The tread material is added to the carrier, and acts as both the grip and the colouring in the stair nosing. This short article explains why stair nosings are important, with picture illustrations of why they are needed.

Well fitted Stair Nosings in St Michael's Primary School, Salisbury
This staircase in a school is a good example of how stair nosings should be fitted.

Extra Grip

Steps are often slippery, so it is important for stair nosings to have good grip potential. This is especially the case when steps are outside, or near an entrance to a building. Wet stairs can be a major hazard, and without slip resistant stair nosings a company could be liable for any accidents. Extra grip tread material such as Plus-tread infill adds extra peace of mind. The grip of different stair nosing treads is judged with ‘Pendulum Slip Testing‘.

Brick steps, every other step has raises.
These brick steps have no clear edges. Even the metal raises are not near the edge, and so are confusing and offer no grip.

Flat and Safe Surface

Stair nosing carriers are usually made from durable aluminium. This ensures that any imperfections on steps are mitigated by the nosings. For instance, concrete steps could become worn over time, or wooden step edges could splinter. The aluminium carriers protect the steps from wear and tear, while the treads ensure a flat and uniform surface. Different types of stair nosings should be used depending on the floorcovering on the stairs. For example, thick floorcoverings such as carpets require heavy-duty stair nosing.

Uneven Stone Steps
These steps are uneven, and it is unclear where each step begins.

Visual Guide

Tread colour helps to differentiate step edges from the rest of the step. This is important for safety reasons. Building Regulations parts K and M issue guidelines on this. Tread colours each have a Light Reflectance Value (LRV). Floorcoverings should also have an LRV. For stair nosings to be judged as safe, there should be an LRV difference of over 30 between the tread colour and the floorcovering colour. An LRV of 0 is jet black, with an LRV of 100 as pure white. Therefore, as a general rule, lighter coloured stair nosings should be used with darker coloured floorcoverings, and vice versa. Without stair nosings it can be hard to tell where each step edge is. This can be very dangerous, particularly for people who are partially sighted.

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