Multi-Turn: Open Riser Vs Closed Riser Staircases

  • 14 Jul 2022

In today’s world, designing staircases isn’t just about function. Stairs are very much considered a design staple and, as such, play a huge role in a room’s overall aesthetic. They are one of the first features a prospective homeowner or visitor sees upon entry and are therefore crucial to delivering a good first impression. 

When it comes to open versus closed riser stairs, there isn’t really an argument. It all comes down to personal taste and practical requirements. Some homes and settings will benefit from open risers, others will not. 

In this piece, Multi-Turn explore the differences between the two, whilst highlighting the best applications for both stair-types.  

Open/Closed Risers or Open/Closed Treads? Dispelling The Misconception…

Firstly, it’s important to highlight some key staircase terminology. Often, people refer to ‘open risers’ as ‘open treads’. Technically speaking, this is not correct. 

The ‘riser’ refers to the vertical space between one step and another, as seen in the diagram below.

The ‘tread’ is the horizontal part of the step that a person will stand on. 

Open/closed treads and open/closed risers are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing, despite the slight technical inaccuracy. 

What are closed riser stairs?

Closed riser stairs will often have a full timber riser between each tread. This means the gap between each step is closed, preventing you from seeing underneath or between the steps. This is the most conventional type of staircase, and you’re likely to see them in a variety of settings.  

Their versatility, ease of installation and cost-effectiveness makes them a solid choice for building contractors looking to build modern homes at scale. 

What are the benefits of closed riser staircases?

Closed riser stairs are common in most homes in the UK, and aside from their versatility mentioned above, closed tread stairs boast a variety of benefits. 

The above image is taken from Multi-Turn’s Lovedon Fields case study, where striking wooden balusters were created to give the space a modern and stylish look; which blends superbly with the contemporary interior of each home.

Closed risers offer additional storage

When space is at a premium, housebuilders need to maximise storage capacity in the home. The underside of a closed tread staircase could be used as an additional storage area – or it could even be used as a work or study space. 

Closed riser stairs are versatile

You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘closed tread means old’ and ‘open tread means modern’ when, in fact, this is not the case. There are ample variations in design when it comes to close tread stairs. They’re ideal for both modern and classic aesthetics. 


​Are Closed Riser Staircases Safer?

One question the company often gets asked is whether open riser staircases are safe. The gap between the treads is, understandably, one of the main causes of concern for both self-builders or renovators who are designing their stairs – and even potential buyers at viewings of new build developments – especially those with young families.

You could argue that the very nature of the riser being closed makes them a safer bet, but in fact, this is not entirely true. Open riser staircases should be built within UK building regulations, which stipulates the gap between the tread and rise should be no more than 100mm. 

What about Open Riser Stairs?

An open riser staircase is one that has an open, vertical space between each step, offering unobstructed views through the treads. Straight and open, the open riser creates a minimalist aesthetic. As such, they tend to suit homes with an open floor plan. The gaps between the steps allow for natural light, making an area look larger.

You’re more likely to see an open riser staircase in a modern home or contemporary commercial setting, and they can be designed to fit any style of stairs, including the traditional straight staircase or the spiral curved staircase. 

What are the benefits of open riser staircases?

Open risers are gaining popularity due to their transparency and visual appeal. Attractive to architects, contractors and homeowners alike, they provide a unique aesthetic, creating an elegant and airy atmosphere. 

Open Riser Staircases are Transparent and Complementary 

The most obvious advantage of the open riser – and one that we’ve touched on in this article – is the passage of natural light it facilitates. Since they don’t interrupt lines of site, they are a great addition to an open-plan layout, creating a light and spacious feel. 

Open Riser Staircases are Versatile

Open risers can be built to suit a variety of styles – from the contemporary to the traditional. A glass downstand can be used to give the illusion of a floating staircase, whereas a timber downstand can provide a clean, modern look. A stainless-steel rod could also be used to provide an added layer of uniqueness. 

With open riser staircases, your options are abundant. 


Both open and closed tread staircases have their benefits. Since both styles have excellent aesthetic appeal, your decision is most likely to be based around practicality and function. 

At Multi-Turn, experts can provide guidance to ensure you make the right decision for your application – just get in touch; they are always happy to help. 

Why work with Multi-Turn? Its main focus is to ensure housebuilders and developers maintain profit levels on their projects. This is done by ensuring all staircases fit first time through its FOC site survey, dry assembly and delivery to your schedule. 

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