Updated: Nov 17
Stay on top of stair safety by including these regular stair maintenance & safety checks in your home maintenance plan.
Stair handrails come in many different forms and are an excellent safety feature, especially for the very young, the very old, and those who are generally a bit clumsy (I include myself in the latter group!). They can prevent slips, trips, and falls which are obviously more serious on the stairs than on flat ground. However, if not properly maintained, they could fail at a crucial moment and become a dangerous hazard so it pays to include the stairs in your home maintenance plan and carry out regular stair safety checks. If you are looking for how to update stairs on a budget then why not check out my DIY stair runner tutorial or my post about creative DIY stair runner ideas? You can also read here how to install a DIY stair handrail if you need to replace one that's old or damaged and while we are on the subject, I've curate a collection of ideas to maximise under-stairs space if you're interested!
What stair safety checks should I perform on my stair handrail?
You should check the handrail is stable and securely attached. This can be done by pulling firmly on the handrail, it's worth doing this at multiple places on the stairs taking extra care the higher you go. If there is any movement at all you need to identify the point of failure and rectify it immediately. If there is movement, it's likely to be one or more of the screws in a bracket or fixing, but it could also be damage to the handrail itself so check both.
Check the handrail is straight (if it's meant to be) and if it's curved by design, then check that it maintains the intended shape for the length of the stairs.
Stair Balustrades - Don't forget the spindles!
If your stairs have spindles (or balusters as they are also known), you should regularly check their soundness. This can be done by applying pressure to each individual element to ensure that it doesn't move independently. If you find a loose railing this should be tightened up / reattached immediately to prevent an accident.
How to check stair carpet and runners for safety
Loose or uneven stair carpet is an obvious hazard, so regular checks are essential. Checks can be completed each time you hoover the stairs and any movement in the carpet or runner should be investigated immediately as could indicate that the carpet tape, staples, or tacks have failed in that area.
If you need to reattach a stair runner then this piece I wrote on how to fit a DIY stair runner using bargain rugs from B&Q might be useful.
Creaking and squeaking
The occasional creaky step is probably nothing to worry about and the noise is usually more of an annoyance than an indicator of anything too serious. That said, you should always investigate a creak or squeak especially if the stair tread (the bit you step on) begins to move when bearing weight. Older stair treads can start to show signs of wear which if not picked up quickly enough can lead to more serious damage. If you are not confident to investigate or fix a dodgy stair tread, then you should definitely call a professional out as it's always better to err on the side of caution where stair safety is concerned.
It's prudent to include regular staircase safety checks into your home maintenance plan to avoid serious issues. You can usually identify any issues with the treads when you are traveling up or down the stairs as you'll feel movement underfoot or hear creaking or squeaking. Checking the handrail, railing and balustrades can be easily incorporated into your cleaning routine as hoovering the stairs provide an ideal opportunity to examine them.
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