Wood staircases are the most common and cost effective. They can either be made from framing lumber and covered in carpet, or the stair treads and risers are made from higher-quality hardwood. Solid high quality wood includes oak, maple, and walnut. Stairs made from framing lumber are the most cost effective type. If you are dealing with a higher end home, then you will likely have the option of hard wood stairs. These stairs can also incorporate wrought iron balusters for the handrail. The biggest downside to wooden staircases is that they make a bit of noise due to the wood changing size (depending on the season and humidity).
Concrete stairs are a great option for outdoor stairs or industrial style homes and areas. Concrete is very strong, solid and quiet. It can have a multitude of textures added to it, and a variety of color to provide even more design options.
Finally, metal stairs are the safest, strongest and the most versatile from a design point. There are two types of metal staircases, metal-only, and metal with accent materials. Metal-only stairs are what most people think when they hear of metal stairs. Metal-only stairs are very common for outdoor applications, industrial catwalks and parking lots. The accent materials are what make metal stairs more appealing in an interior setting.
Metal stairs with accents are very strong and versatile in design. In most cases, metal is the core material that gives unmatched safety and strength, and then an accent material such as wood, stone, or glass is used. This allows for unlimited creativity in design options. In modern and contemporary designs, it is very common to use metal structures with accented steps. Some examples are:
- Metal structure with wood treads and handrail caps (treads can be butcher-block style with a mix of exotic woods)
- Metal structure with stone steps and caps (granite, marble, quartz, and other commercially-available stones)
- Metal structure with glass steps and/ or side walls (glass steps and side walls are very strong and offer quite a unique feature for the most sophisticated palates)
Not only do you get the strength and safety of the metal structure, but you also benefit from the style and beauty of accent materials.