Timber Stairs

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open tread modern wood design timber stairs

Without doubt stairs can be a focal point in any home. So it’s worth spending time to make sure you get exactly what’s right for your style, budget and the physical space you have.  They will last for generations if done well so here are some things to consider when researching and planning your timber stairs.  


Stairs are labour intensive and can be costly but it’s a really worthwhile investment to get experts to measure, cut, prepare and install.


Styles of Timber stairs


Stairs are a functional piece of furniture: not only do they fulfill a practical use, they are part of your interior design. So look at images until you find the style you like that matches the aesthetic of your home.   Make sure though that you think about it in the context of your home’s interior and not in the context of the image you have found.  Will it block out light?  Will it look heavy and bulky and take up too much space?  How practical will it be for the 2 and 4-legged occupants of the home? Choice of materials and ease of maintenance are other things that should be on your checklist. 


Open riser stairs

Open riser stairs have open treads which gives a lighter and airier feel to a space.  You should check with your local building code for restrictions in your area on open riser staircases.


Closed stairs

This type of stair is enclosed and perhaps a little less attention-grabbing than open staircases. However, they are very practical and are perfect for a traditional-style home. They can be jazzed up by using different finishes for railings and handrails: glass, metal or different woods.


Stringers, Treads, Handrails and Railings

Your design has so many options once you’ve decided on open or closed stairs – limited only by your imagination and perhaps your budget.


In this staircase we used open timber treads and landings on metal stringers.  The treads slid onto metal t-bars welded onto the stringers.  The modern slightly industrial feel it gave to this home was outstanding.  Read more about this home in our featured project link. open tread modern wood design timber stairs


In this staircase we designed open riser treads and landings from douglas fir with a douglas fir handrail and glass railings.  This matched the exterior deck stairs and the use of glass kept a completely open feel in this double-height living area.  The stairs melted into the space perfectly – they were not designed to be the focal point of the room. 

open tread wooden staircase

In this staircase we integrated hand forged metal spindles with douglas fir handrail and posts – the beautiful black metal matched the hardware on the door handles and switch plates in the home. 

handforged iron railings


In this custom piece we used a tree from the home owner’s property and created a spiral staircase with black metal spindles. It’s always a talking point in the home.

custom timber stairs

We are currently working on a custom handrail for a homeowner using hand-peeled, wire brushed logs – it will look perfect when installed in their cabin renovation – in this instance definitely designed as a focal point. 


The photographs and examples above are all just interior.  When you get to exterior stairs the considerations are even more.  Very often we have to design for snow load, snow clearing, roof melt, durability, views, pets etc.  Here are some examples of exterior stairs and railings showing the variety of styles possible when using wood, metal and glass.


Wood and wood, wood and metal, wood and glass, even wood and wire cables – all combinations are possible.  To see more designs and perhaps get ideas, click here to see our Gallery of recent work.



Steps to getting custom timber stairs

  • Send us any images you love
  • We will visit the home and understand the space, your style, headroom and any structural elements (such as posts) we have to consider in a proposed design.  Of course we will also design according to your budget
  • With expertise in current Building Codes we will help ensure you get a stair that is compliant with all municipal and provincial codes.
  • Using our Leica builder total station we will take measurements to ensure we cut the materials with precision to accommodate onsite conditions
  • We liaise with any other fabricators if non-wood elements such as metal or glass are to be incorporated 
  • Wood experts prepare the stairs in our shop and test-fit as required
  • We install the stairs once we have scheduled around the other sub-trades.

What makes us experts in timber stairs?

  • As wood experts we understand wood, moisture and how wood moves


  • Using only high quality wood (kiln dried free of heart) ensures the stairs develop no annoying squeaks, creaks or cracks


  • Our Leica builder technology ensures a perfect fit even in awkward spaces – we take time upfront to really understand your space


  • The team constantly stays abreast of changes to Building Codes to ensure your stairs are compliant


  • Qualified engineers work in our design team to ensure structural integrity


  • Strong relationships with fantastic metal and glass fabricators to suit your design.  We will project manage everything with them as required


  • We have many innovative solutions to assemble stairs and minimize visible connections. For example we use Pitzl stair connectors in exterior stairs as they limit spaces where water can collect.  If one tread ever needs to be replaced it can be done easily without removing or dis-assembling the entire structure.  In interior stairs where there isn’t enough room to install a housed stair tread we can use connectors to assemble the stairs in place to achieve the same look. 

exterior timberframe design

  • We consider the installation sequence when we design the stairs. Most of the time the space is tight and the surrounding walls are finished, so the installation needs to be planned accordingly


  • With many years of experience we can ensure you get the right style for the space, assembled accurately to last a lifetime, on budget and on time.


We’d love to hear from you

We design, cut, prepare, stain and install test-fitted timber stairs of any style, custom made for your space. If you have any questions about timber stairs and railing systems please get in touch with us.  We love working on a variety of projects, big, small, inside or outside. We’d love to hear from you.