The British Woodworking Federation Group

Sinister Six Staircases

Back To All Latest News
Posted By

Staircases can be beautifully mastered pieces of architectural design at the centre of our homes. Timber stairs, in particular, add classic style and elegance to even the most contemporary designs. Such stairs are often chosen for their high performance characteristics, extensive and varied range of finishes and the sheer natural beauty of timber as a material.

However, stairs are also the most common accident zone in the home other than the kitchen, and a critical area of non-compliance with building regulations.

Did you know that according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, there were 787 deaths in England and Wales last year caused by falls on and from stairs and steps? That’s two deaths a day.

So take another critical look at “innovation” in stair design… it might not be such a great idea after all.

Hannah Mansell, Technical Manager of the BWF Stair Scheme, commented:

“The thing about these type of feature stairs is that actually you can create jaw dropping designs that do satisfy building regulations as well as other performance requirements, but the issue comes when aesthetics is chosen over safety.

“A competent stair manufacturer, one that has a full knowledge of all the relevant standards and regulations as well as detailed knowledge about timber and all the amazing things that you can do with it, can deliver a unique staircase that fully satisfies all requirements, creating a beautiful relationship between material and structure.

“Here’s our list of the Sinister Six. Unfortunately all of these timber stairs wouldn’t comply with the necessary building regulations if they were installed in homes in the UK.”

1 Alternate tread angled staircase

Sinister Six Staircases

(Image credit to Wicker Paradise via Flickr )

This staircase is not for the fainthearted. You’d need to watch every step that you make to ensure you don’t end up with a broken leg or worse.

 2 Alternate tread staircase

Sinister Six Staircases(Image credit to: via Flickr)

These stairs might take some getting used to! If you’re not looking where you’re going you could be in for a steep drop, or worse a nasty fall.

3 Floating staircase without a handrail

Sinister Six Staircases(Image credit to: Amber Case via Flickr)


As beautiful as this stair may look, there is no handrail. If you tripped or missed your footing (which is likely considering the size of the gap between the steps) you would have no means to rebalance yourself.

4 Floating staircase without a handrail #2

Sinister Six Staircases(Image credit to: designmilk via Flickr)

Similarly, this floating staircase also has no handrail. If you were to trip you would have no means to balance yourself.

5 Bookshelf staircase

Sinister Six Staircases(Image credit to: brett Jordan via Flickr)


If you’re a book lover this might seem like the perfect solution to store your collection of books. But you’d definitely need to watch where you put your feet.

6 Drawers underneath staircase

Sinister Six Staircases(Image credit to: husin.sani via Flickr)

At first glance this may seem like an ideal storage solution. Let’s just hope that no one leaves the drawer open! If you’re not looking where you’re going you could be in for a nasty surprise.

As stylish, innovative or ‘practical’ as these staircases may seem, each of these Sinister Six hides a nasty surprise.

Each would fail Building Regulations for obvious safety reasons.

Make sure your new staircase doesn’t compromise on safety and meets the necessary standards by using a UK stair manufacturer accredited by the BWF Stair Scheme.



The British Woodworking Federation is the trade association for the woodworking and joinery manufacturing industry in the UK. Thinking of becoming part of it? Use this quick response form to provide us with some contact details. We will send you an email to confirm your interest and then one of our experienced membership team will be in touch to complete the membership process.

Posted By