How to Build Metal Industrial Stairs
How do you go about building a set of metal industrial stairs? Where do you start and how do you make sure you are getting the right solution for your needs? Errors, even the most simple, can cost time and money, so starting out with the right guidelines are important.
First things to consider are layout and design so that they are easily accessible, fit your space and are safe. The ideal rise and run of tread is regulated by organizations across the globe such as OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Association).
When looking to build, construct, design or install industrial metal stairs, it is important to know the components needed to build a stairway / staircase (see common terms glossary article here), what space you are building in and the exact regulations that need to be followed.
A few areas of focus are; Research, Specifications, Installation, Inspection.
Doing research on industrial metal stairs usually contains finding the right supplier(s), best stair style and design, ideal materials, and how to stay compliant. Without proper research any of these areas can result in a solution that, at the end of the day, does not work well or even worse, is not compliant. It is crucial to do the proper research before beginning any project.
Prefabricated or Custom
One of the biggest decisions to make is whether you go with a prefabricated or a custom fabricated solution. Each has their own pros and cons depending on the timeframe, budget, and application. It is known that custom, fabricated, solutions can take months to plan, engineer, fabricate, and install. The engineering involved to get the specifics for your project could cost around $4,000. Note that this cost does not guarantee against any errors or issues that may arise later in the process. While you get an exact solution for your application, you are spending the time and money to do so. Take your time and make sure each step is done and done correctly before moving to the next, if you do, you will have a solution that will work and last.
Prefabricated, manufactured, solutions are tested and proven to work within many application types, are easy to set up, and are typically less expensive than hiring a fabrication shop to create custom metal stairs and platforms. Prefabricated solutions are also compliant with local and federal regulations so the inspection phase goes much smoother. One of the largest aspects often overlooked with custom fabrication is compliance. Once created and installed, a custom solution may not pass inspection and require modification or recreation. While you may think you are locked-in with pre-manufactured components there typically is some room for slight modifications upon request.
The design of your staircase is somewhat flexible. Industrial stairs could have a top or mid landings, reverse landings or can be built into mezzanines so they are retrofitted to your extension platforms. Choices for mezzanine stairways range from enclosed or open and can have handrails all around or on 1 side.
Some helpful things to remember:
- The typical moving load for industrial stairs is 1,000 lbs.
- The minimum stair width is 22 inches.
- Various elevations and stair count can affect the rise and run required, but stair angle needs to be between 30 – 50 degrees to be within compliance.
- All stairs greater than 12 feet in height require an intermediate landing per code
- The most common industrial tread widths are 36″ for locations with an occupant load of less than 50 people and 44″ which is required in areas with an occupant load of 50 or more people.
- With stair treads and landings you have a few choices such as closed diamond plate, bar grating, serrated bar grating, and grip strut.
The installation time of your stairs can range from a few hours to a few days depending on the complexity of your design or environment. If you plan appropriately there will be limited to no downtime in your operations while the stairs are being built. Some products, such as those from ErectaStep can greatly reduce the time it takes to install a fully functioning and compliant stair, ladder and platform solution. If a custom system was fabricated you can expect installation times of 8 – 12 hours for your typical set of 12 stairs with a switchback platform to another set of 12 stairs. Comparable, a prefabricated solution such as ErectaStep could take just a few hours.
Using a trusted prefabricated solution typically alleviates the need for compliance inspections because all the components are guaranteed to meet federal and state regulations. For custom fabricated jobs it is important to have a third party conduct safety inspections so that the system is known to be safe right away and if you were to be audited you have the inspection to verify compliances are met.