Selby Contract Flooring

What are Stair Nosings?

January 21, 2020

Stair nosings are the metal or pvc strips that run horizontally across the front of each stair tread in a non domestic environment. They are primarily used for Health and Safety purposes on commercial staircases. Stair nosings are designed to do two things. First they allow people using the staircase to be able to visually identify the break in between each step, therefore lowering the risk of tripping and falling, second they provide some slip resistance and therefore reducing the risk of slipping and falling. So in short stair nosings are designed to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls.

Do I have to use them?

One of the most common questions surrounding stair nosings is do you have to use them ? Well there are some variables to consider when deciding this in your workplace but variables aside, in a new build you legally have to install them under the UK Building regulations. In an older building we have to look at current legislation such as the Welfare regs, the Management of Health and safety at work regs and the Health and Safety at work Act and consider the correct guidance and approved codes of practice. Also we would need to consider what type of flooring we are installing as some types of floor cannot be installed on a staircase without a stair nosing ( E.G a carpet tile ).

So we know in a new building it would be a legal requirement to install stair nosings but what about an older building ? Guidance and approved codes of practice state that we should be using stair nosings and if in a worst case scenario something went wrong, that guidance and approved code of practice will be the first thing to be looked at. However It is down to your Health and safety officers discretion, and the creation of a specific risk assessment that you can decide that it is safe not to use them.

A risk assessment must be put in place evidencing the following

  • Is the staircase well lit?
  • Can you visibly see the breaks in the stairs?
  • Are there handrails at the correct height which are a contrasting colour to the surroundings?
  • Do you have any visually impaired people or anyone with mobility issues likely to be using this staircase?
  • Is the area kept free from trip hazards or obstacles.
  • Are you in a listed building? Do you need to check if you are allowed to stick or fix anything to these steps?

If they feel they can evidence the above and do everything possible to reduce risk then it should be ok not to use them as long as the above risk assessment is checked and maintained at all times.

However the choice to not use stair nosings will only be relevant if you are using broadloom carpet ( Rolled carpet ) as all other types of commercial flooring cannot be installed on stairs without a stair nosing being used. We find the most common area where the choice to not use them is exercised is in an extremely old period office building where the stair nosings are not in keeping with the look of the period building and the above risk assessment can be carried out and evidenced.

What designs can I use?

Stair nosings come in a range of colours and designs to suit the profile of almost every stair type. They come in a range of finishes from Aluminium, chrome and brass or bronze. They can have a ribbed tread or most commonly have what is called a tread insert. The tread insert sits on the tread of the nosings and is what gives you the slip resistance and break in colour between stairs. Tread inserts come in a huge variety of colours and levels of grip, and you can even get glowing inserts for areas such as fire exits or low light areas such as cinemas.

The most common mistake we see is the inserts of the stair nosings not being a contrasting enough colour as aesthetically this does not always look very nice. We need to be aware that there is something called a light reflectance value rating (LRV) All flooring products have an LRV rating which range from 0 (black) to 100 (white) The Point difference between the LRV of the floor colour and the nosing insert should be a minimum of 30 points. This means if the LRV of the floor is 35 then the LRV of the insert strip should be chosen from colours in the range of either 1-5 or 65-100. This will give a complete contrast between steps.

How are they fixed to the stairs?

Stair nosings can be fixed to the stair tread in two different ways. The most common way and the best way is to not only stick each nosing but to drill, plug and screw them to each stair tread as well. This way is bullet proof and a must for Health and Safety if the staircase is being used frequently. Some stair types such as Metal or Marble would require the nosings to be stuck only. This is still safe and manufacturers will guarantee the adhesive for the life of the product as long as the correct methods of installation are adhered to.

What if I have curved or shaped stairs?

Stair nosings can be curved and cut and welded back together at different angles which means almost any step can have a stair nosing made to fit. Bespoke products will always take longer to make.

How do I know what stair nosings I require?

At Selby Contract Flooring all our site surveys and quotations are free of charge. We can come to your workplace with samples and show you the exact product you require for your staircase. We can measure at the same time and provide you with a free of charge quotation.