At first glance, replacing that old, worn-out staircase can seem like such a complex and costly project that many homeowners can be reluctant to even attempt it, holding off for as long as possible until those stairs simply can’t take one more footstep.
But is it really such an expensively complicated job? Exactly how much does it cost to build a new staircase? And what’s the easiest, most affordable way to replace a staircase that is simply no longer fit for purpose?
In today’s guide, we’ll answer all of those questions and then some.
Building a new staircase can create a stylish focal point for your property, though you should expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 upwards for a quality installation.
We’ll explore your available options when it comes to choosing materials and the costs involved as well as explaining which staircase styles may be best suited for you, your home, and your family, and we’ll also answer your most frequently asked questions about staircase installations.
Finally, we’ll offer our recommendations on the parts of your staircase project where you can afford to cut costs and the parts where it definitely doesn’t pay to be cheap.
- How Much Does It Cost to Build a New Staircase?
- How Much Does it Cost to Build Exterior Stairs?
- Building a New Staircase: Your Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thought: How to Save Money on Building a New Staircase
How Much Does It Cost to Build a New Staircase?
The cost of a staircase is determined by location, material, and style, with spiral staircases like this one typically costing the most.
The average American homeowner spends $1,950 to build a new staircase, though prices can vary from as little as $900 to upwards of $3,000.
These are the typical costs associated with building stairs indoors, though we’ll look the price of building outside steps and staircases later in this guide.
For now, let’s discuss the three main factors which will determine how much you pay for your stairs:
The location, the materials used, and the type of staircase you decide to install.
To avoid confusion, we should point out here that unless we specifically stated otherwise, all of the costs listed below include all materials, labor, and equipment.
Interior Staircase Installation Costs by Location
The main staircase in your home will always be the most expensive to build or replace, with loft stairs costing the least and basement stairs priced somewhere in between
Not all staircases are created equal. Given the frequency (or infrequency) of use, the need (or lack thereof) to pay attention to how the stairs look, and the complexity of the installation process, different types of stairs come with very different costs.
Below, we’ll cover the three main locations that a new staircase would be most commonly installed in the modern home. If you’re installing stairs anywhere else, you should be able to still use the following prices as a rough guide:
Main Staircase $2,500 – $3,000
There’s no getting around the fact that the main staircase in your home, the one that leads from your ground floor to your first floor (as well as any subsequent floors) is never going to be cheap to install.
There are a few reasons for this:
First, there’s the amount of usage that you’re going to get out of that new staircase over the next few years.
More so than with an attic or basement staircase, you and your loved ones will be going up and down those stairs multiple times a day, seven days a week, every week for the next several years. As such, that staircase has to be exceptionally durable and weight resistant.
In accordance with the International Building Codes, each stair must be able to withstand a live load of at least 300 lbs or 100 lbs per square foot.
Ensuring that your stairs are sturdily built with sufficient reinforcement costs a substantial amount of money but that only goes part way to explaining why installing a main staircase costs so much.
Another main factor is the impact that the installation process has on the structure of your home. Whether you’re ripping out your old staircase and replacing it or adding one to a new-build property, considerations must be taken to protect the structural integrity and this too will add to the total cost of your project.
Finally, there are aesthetics to consider.
Since your main staircase is often one of the key focal points of your home, you simply can’t get away with adding a few ugly concrete steps in the same way that would if you were building a staircase down to your basement. No, that new staircase needs to be built from materials with a certain aesthetic appeal such as wood.
Then there are all those finishing touches such as laying carpet, painting, or wood staining.
Combined, all of these things mean that installing a main staircase not only takes longer than installing any other type but also requires more money to be spent on materials and equipment, resulting in a higher overall cost.
Basement: $950 – $3000
Fortunately, installing a basement staircase is much less expensive. The average homeowner in the United States pays around $1,200 for this, though higher-end materials or custom design work can still add thousands to your budget.
If you’re only using your basement as a place for storage or perhaps as a laundry room, then aesthetic appeal is unlikely to be high on your list of priorities. As such, you can use cheaper materials such as concrete to provide suitable strength and durability and keep costs low. If, on the other hand, you’re converting that space into a bedroom or living space, then you could reasonably expect to pay a little more for better-looking materials and those all-important finishing touches.
Either way, the good news is that basement steps are typically far easier to install than main staircases, so even if you do opt for better quality materials you should still be looking at paying no more than $3000.
Loft Stairs: $900 – $3,000
The cost of installing stairs to your loft is largely determined by how that loft is being used. If you’re in the process of converting your loft into a living space, then you’ll need to install a permanent, fixed staircase with a minimum load-bearing capacity of 300 lbs per step.
As you can probably imagine, this is going to cost you close to the same amount that you’d pay for your main staircase. However, since a loft staircase doesn’t impact the structure of your home in the same way and may not need a high-quality finish, there are savings to made.
Alternatively, if you’re only using your loft as storage space, you aren’t bound by the same requirements and could, therefore, save hundreds of dollars.
Opt for a set of loft ladder stairs or a folding attic staircase and you should be able to install these yourself, saving you the trouble of hiring a professional contractor.
Cost to Build a New Staircase By Material
Wood is still the most common material for modern staircases thanks to its low cost, durability, and aesthetic appeal
Wooden Staircase Costs: $80 – $175 per step
Hardwood remains a popular choice for staircases in both older properties and those built within the last few decades.
This is no doubt partly down to its long-lasting durability.
Properly installed and treated, materials like these solid red oak boards from Waddell can withstand years of use with very little -if any- maintenance required.
That aside, the real reason why wood continues to be the go-to material for new staircase installations is that it’s so incredibly versatile.
Not only can it be easily carved to work beautifully in spiral, arched, and curved staircases, it also offers the most options in terms of design options.
Sure, you could carpet over the whole thing, but you could just as easily paint your staircase or treat it with wood stain. You could also choose different varieties of wood.
As the most readily available (and therefore most affordable) variety, red oak tends to be the default wood for staircases in US homes, though there’s nothing to stop you going for an ash, mahogany, or cypress staircase to match your existing hardwood flooring.
Keep in mind that these varieties may cost more, so you may need to budget a little higher than the prices quoted above.
Concrete Staircase Costs: $75 – $200 per step
Offering remarkable durability, concrete is incredibly resistant to weather and damp, which makes it a great option for exterior steps as well as basement stairs.
Made by mixing together water, sand, and high-quality cement, concrete can be easily shaped and is generally a much easier material to build steps out of than wood or metal. It’s for this reason that a lot of homeowners building concrete stairs will opt to go down the DIY route rather than hiring a contractor, resulting in significant cost savings.
On the downside, there’s no escaping the fact that concrete is pretty cold, uncomfortable, and unappealing to look at it, which pretty much rules it out for any part of your home where interior design matters.
Metal Staircase Costs: $200 – $400 per step
Most commonly featured in modern homes and commercial properties, metal staircases can lend a cool, contemporary minimalist look to any property.
In terms of installation, they are among the more difficult types of staircase to install which does add to the overall costs. This is mostly due to the fact that all steps, railings, and supporting elements must be cut exactly to size before being brought into your home and can’t be easily cut or reshaped in the way that wood or pre-set concrete can.
It’s also worth pointing out that if you decide to add a painted finish to your metal steps, they’re likely to get scratched and worn down over time, resulting in more long-term maintenance.
Despite all that, you might not want to write off metal staircases altogether. In terms of durability, they’re about as tough as stairs get, often proving to be even more resistant to cracks and major damage than concrete.
Stone Staircase Costs: $400 – $1,000
Stone is by far the most expensive material for building a staircase, though the finished designs are often remarkably beautiful
It’s strong, it’s tough, and it looks incredible, but oh, is it ever expensive.
Installing a stone staircase indoors costs an average of $2,000 – $3,000, while marble in particular, tends to cost between $5,000 and $10,000 all in.
It’s for this reason that you typically only see marble and other types of stone staircases installed in truly high-end properties, though the finished product usually makes for a stunning addition to those homes, serving as the very epitome of elegance and sophistication.
The higher costs aren’t just due to the price of the materials itself, but also professional fees. To really do a stone staircase justice, you’ll usually have to hire specialist stone installers who tend to charge more than your standard joiner or similar contractor.
It’s also worth mentioning that most stone staircases are custom-designed, so if you do have the budget to choose this option, you may find yourself hiring a designer or consultant as well.
New Staircase Installation Costs by Design
Since they’re more complicated to install, spiral staircases like this one cost much more than a straight staircase
We’re all familiar with the standard straight staircases featured in most harms. As we’ll discuss in a moment, they may be the easiest and most affordable to install, but they’re far from the only option you have at your disposal.
Whether you need a different design for practical purposes or simply to create a striking focal point in your home, here’s a look at the different types of staircases you could choose from as well as their associated costs:
Straight Staircase Costs: $1,950 – $2,500
There’s nothing particularly fancy or unique about straight staircases but, let’s be honest, that’s often part of their appeal.
A single flight of stairs installed in one straight, uninterrupted line, these are the easiest staircases to build and can be decorated with carpet, paint, or wood varnish without too much trouble.
This, along with the fact that you can buy prefabricated staircases that are already designed to meet American building codes, makes them the cheapest option available.
That said, they do have their disadvantages.
Most contemporary homes built within the last twenty years tend to not include straight staircases for safety reasons; take a tumble from the top of the stairs and you’re going to fall all the way to the bottom.
Looks-wise, they’re also pretty uninteresting, though again that might not be such a big deal if you’re more interested in the practical side of things.
U-Shaped and L-Shaped Stairs: $1,900 – $4,000
L-Shaped stairs are those which are essentially two smaller flights of steps connected by a landing area which creates a 90-degree turn, while U-shaped staircases are built on the same principle, except with a 180-degree turn instead.
Both are visually more interesting than straight staircases, and while that alone can make them a great addition to your home, that isn’t their biggest benefit.
No, the main reason why L-Shaped and U-Shaped stairs have begun overtaking straight staircases as the default option in modern homes is that they’re much safer. If you do happen to fall from the top of the stairs, you’ll have the landing there to break your fall, reducing the risk of serious injury.
With that in mind, if you’re replacing the staircase in a home with small children, one of these two options may be the best way to go.
Cost-wise, there’s no big difference between an L-Shaped and U-Shaped staircase, and the only reason why you might choose one of the over is likely to be due to your design preferences or space availability.
Spiral Staircase Costs: $2,000 – $3,000
Spiral staircases can add a stunning design feature to your home as well as proving useful in smaller spaces
The great thing about spiral staircases is that they work just as well in smaller homes as they do larger ones.
In properties were space is at a premium, a spiral staircase can be a great way to add a unique look that compliments your interior design without taking up a lot of room. This makes them an attractive option if you’re building a double-story extension and need to add a staircase without sacrificing that extra space you’ve worked hard to create.
In large properties, however, a wider spiral staircase really elevates the stairs beyond their practical function and turns them into a beautiful design feature.
Of course, the big disadvantage is that they tend to be the most expensive of all staircase designs, but they’re also the best looking, and for many homeowners that’s definitely a fair trade.
Floating Staircase Costs: $3,000 – $5,000
Last but by no means least, we come to floating stairs which rival even the most intricately-designed spiral staircases when it comes to adding a beautiful, unique look to your home.
Not unlike the kind of floating shelves that you might have in your kitchen or workshop, floating stairs seem to have visible structure underneath them, but are fully supported by being securely anchored into the wall. This creates a stunning look in which your steps really do appear as if they’re magically floating.
While popular in homes with minimalist design, families with young children can often be put-off by the seemingly unsafe nature of floating stairs.
The truth, however, is that as long as your stairs are designed as per your state’s regulations, they’re just as safe as a standard straight staircase.
How Much Does it Cost to Build Exterior Stairs?
A full stone staircase like this one may cost you as much as $3,000, though you could expect to pay less for a few steps leading up to your porch or patio
So far, we’ve focussed exclusively on building a staircase inside the home, but how much will you have to pay if you want to add steps outside?
As with interior stairs, this all depends on the type of steps you need.
To add a few wooden steps leading up to your porch or front door, set aside a budget of between $300 and $750. The lower figure should cover the cost of materials if you’re building those steps yourself, while the higher figure covers materials and the price of hiring a contractor.
If you decide to use concrete for steps leading up to your door, this is likely to set you back somewhere in the region of $500 – $900.
If you’re building a patio or adding decking to your garden, adding stairs to them is likely to cost between $350 – $800, while adding a full staircase up to the second floor of your home may cost anywhere between $1,500 – $3,000 depending on the materials used.
Building a New Staircase: Your Frequently Asked Questions
Hiring a contractor is the best way to ensure a professional quality staircase like this one
Who Should I Hire to Build My Staircase?
This depends on the type of staircase you want to install and how complex the design process is.
If you simply need to replace your old straight staircase with a new one, then you could hire a carpenter or general contractor who should have all the skills and experience needed for the job.
A carpenter may also be able to help with bespoke designs and spiral staircases as long as they’re made out of wood, though you may need to first hire a designer or architectural consultant to come up with the plans.
For stone and marble staircases, you’ll be better off working with your nearest stone installers, while concrete options can usually be handled by a general building contractor.
Of course, you do have two other options when it comes to building a new staircase.
First of all, there are specialist staircase installers who may offer a better rate and better-looking designs than a general contractor.
Then there’s the option of doing the whole job yourself. While this will certainly save you hundreds of dollars in labor costs, building a new staircase isn’t the kind of job you should take lightly. Stairs need to be installed to the very highest of standards. Not only is this essential for meeting your state’s building regulations but also for ensuring the safety of your family. With that in mind, it may be better to hire a professional with the skills and knowledge needed to do the best job possible.
How Long Does it Take to Install a New Staircase?
A professional contractor should take no more than two working days to build a standard straight staircase, while those with more unique designs such as spiral cases could take as long as four-five days.
If you decide to build your own staircase, you might be wise to schedule a few extra days for the project so that you can take your time and avoid mistakes.
Are Floating Stairs Legal?
Yes, as long as they’re installed properly and in accordance with your state’s building regulations.
In most US states, that will mean having a handrail or wall on at least one side of the stairs, though in places such as Los Angeles, you’re required to have a guardrail or wall on both sides.
In other words, while you can’t have a completely open staircase, as long as you install some kind of safety measure that meets your state’s requirements, you can have the kind of floating stairs in which you don’t see the supporting structure underneath the steps.
Final Thought: How to Save Money on Building a New Staircase
With costs ranging from around $1,000 to upwards of $3,000 and more, installing a new staircase may seem like a fairly expensive project, which is why many homeowners are often tempted to cut costs by doing the work themselves.
Before you do the same, it’s worth remembering that while not paying a professional contractor may save you a ton of money in the short term, it can often prove to be a false economy in the long-run.
Though we may take them for granted as we’re walking up and down them each day, stairs can be tricky to install properly, especially to the kind of impeccably high standards needed to ensure the safety of you and your family.
So unless you’re absolutely confident in your own ability to build a staircase to professional standards, you may find that a DIY installation ends up costing you more in maintenance, repairs, or even entire replacements somewhere down the line.
As such, you’re likely to find that while paying a professional contractor may cost more now, it ultimately proves to be the best option for long-term cost-effectiveness.
That said, there are other things you can do to reduce the amount you have to spend on your new stairs.
Leaving out the fancy spirals and L-shaped designs in favor of the standard, straight staircase may not be as visually inspiring, but it will certainly prove to be your most affordable option.
Likewise, opting for a reasonably-priced, good quality wood rather than marble, stone, or metal will also ensure you get a quality staircase at a price within your budget.