Spiral Staircase

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Project Status: BUILT

“Spiral staircase” was a dream feature for our tiny cabin. But is it possible? A standard spiral staircase has a diameter of about six feet making it a bad fit for this tiny space. Lots of tiny homes use ladders, ship’s ladders and homemade stair/storage combos to access the loft without taking up valuable floor space.
Solution: the Arke Karina staircase kit with alternating treads (also called “paddle stairs”). Alternating tread stairs allow a steep, safe ascent in a much smaller space. It’s about 70% staircase, 30% ladder.
The Arke Karina stair is Made in Italy and distributed by Home Depot in the USA. We picked this kit up several months ago when it appeared “on sale” for 10% off & free shipping.
Installation Notes: 
  • Two day install for experienced builder folk. Longer for novices. This ain’t like putting together an IKEA shelf. Heavy parts, precision assembly, math, etc.
  • Photos here show the product of 12 hours of work by two guys. The instructions are weakly translated in English but still make sense. For clarity, the kit comes with a DVD and the manufacturer has instructional videos on their website/YouTube.
  • Total space “footprint” is about 37 x 55″. In other words if you taped out a rectangle on the floor, that’s the area that the stair fits completely within. The actual “footprint” is smaller because as the stair rises (8-9″ per step) you gain headroom and usable space around the stair.
  • The curve saves space compared with a straight configuration but it requires more planning. For example, figuring out the angle of each piece of the metal “skeleton” and custom-drilling holes for each railing.
  • Overall we highly recommend this staircase for quality, value and function. The wood stair treads are beautifully made. The steel skeleton is super heavy duty with an excellent quality powder coated finish. The railing is sturdy and functional. Ease of install: definitely harder than DIY furniture projects so don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk just because it’s a kit. This is a construction project. With some careful planning and double checking, two people can knock this out in two full days of work.
  • Re: Building Codes — this stair is NOT a code-compliant staircase according to IRC (code reference for many towns, cities in the USA). It can be used to access a storage loft (shown here), attic, or other non-living space. It cannot be used as the “official” staircase for a bedroom or second story of a home, for example. In our cabin the loft space will be classified as a storage loft due to limited floor area and headroom (spelled out in the IRC). We discussed this with our building inspector and encourage you to do the same! The buck stops with the inspector.
  • For THOW (tiny house on wheels) builders — codes do not usually apply. If this stair is right for your project, the weight of the full kit is about 250 lbs.
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