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Apples and Pears

Many rural Bulgarian properties have outside stairs and usually buyers of such homes look for a way to put in a new staircase inside the property. Selecting a staircase can be more difficult than it at first sounds. There are many things to take into consideration and a staircase can make or break the whole interior.

Staircases must be safe and user-friendly. They should be easy to go up and down. You should consider the tread, pitch and hand rail position, together with headroom. All of these factors need to work smoothly together.

When setting out your staircase, here are the first three key factors:

- Start Point
- End Point
- Straight or with turn(s)

Straight flights are usually the cheapest form of staircases and are readily available from large diy chains, where you'll find a decent range. A straight staircase makes moving furniture up and down much easier, although those with turns usually fit the available space much better.

When considering where to start your staircase, the base should ideally be close to the entrance and close to the centre of the property if possible.

If you are buying a diy staircase, you can choose either one in kit form or one ready pre-assembled. These types of staircase do have adjusment possibilities, usually by trimming the bottom step to fit, and allowing generally up to 7 cms of alteration. Some of the dity stores offer a made to measure service. Although these are a good idea, they are usually only offered in a traditional look, so if you want a really good looking staircase, then bespoke is the best idea.

For a bespoke staircase, there are various possibilities. If you wish the staircase to be in wood, then you will most be able to find a local carpenter or joiner who will make the staircase for you to your design and also instal it. If looking for metal, glass or other materials you may be left with only one choice - ordering overseas and having the staircase shipped to Bulgaria.

When measuring, remember that the total rise is from the floor below to the floor above (don't forget to measure to include the finished floor once tiles or such have been installed, rather than the 'raw' floor). An off the shelf staircase is usually around 2.6 m. After you are happy with the total rise, you then need to work out the number of steps. The parts which connects the steps are known as risers. The ideal height of a riser is 200 mm. You might go a little higher if you want a rustic look but the most important thing is that the height is comfortable for going up and down. A staircase with a total rise of 2.6 m. with risers of 200 mm. will need a total of 13 risers.

The last calculation is the actual depth of the tread, which is the depth of each stair.

Consideration should be given to the overall width of the staircase. Realistically 80 cm. is about the minimum.

Staircases with a metal frame and wooden treads, glass staircases are becoming hugely popular. With their modern feel of light and space, they certainly add a quality feel to a home but it does come at a price.

Glass needs to have special treatment for safety and needs to be toughened and thickened. This will add to the overall price and may put as much as another 3,500 euros onto the project. Kit staircases with glass treads can be found at prices as low as 1,300 euros.

Wood treads on an open rise staircase can look really good and are not expensive, typically around 500 euros.

The more simple the design (straight rather than with turns), the less you will end up paying. Materials clearly affect cost, those being made of engineered pine and plywood being at the cheapest end. A staircase like this can cost as little as 250 euros. Moving onto hardwoods, these are around the 700 euros mark. However, a made to measure hardwood staircase by a local carpenter or joiner will be about 2,000 euros with price dependant upon size, style and the wood being used.