Tread Carefully By Installing Stair Edgings On All Steps, Says Gradus

Gradus Stair Edgings
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06 June 2011

A bad practice is still being used that could compromise staircase safety and building accessibility, by providing the top and bottom (and intermediate) stair edgings in a different colour (usually yellow) to the rest of the stair edgings on a flight of stairs.

Applying visual contrast to just the top and bottom steps can be confusing for people with sight loss, as they can mistake it for a single step. It can also be disconcerting as they have to negotiate the rest of the steps without being able to clearly see the edges.

Gradus recommends that all stair edgings on a flight of stairs should be the same colour and provide a single, solid band that defines each step edge and visually contrasts with the remainder of the floor covering on the tread and riser. To ensure adequate visual contrast is achieved, there should be 30 points difference between the light reflectance values (LRVs) of the stair edgings and adjacent floorcoverings.

This is in line with guidance in BS8300:2009+A1:2010 and Approved Document M of The Building Regulations 2000, and helps building owners to meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010 to create inclusive environments.

Keith Oakes, Technical Director for Gradus, said: “Unfortunately, this bad practice of installing the top and bottom stair edgings in a different colour to the rest of the stair edgings on a flight of stairs is becoming common place. It is not a practice that is based, as far as we can establish, on any particular published guidance or research findings. This is often done with good intentions, as specifiers can wrongly assume that the top and bottom steps are the most important for aiding staircase navigation.

“This can also be a costly mistake as we have seen instances where access officers have condemned a staircase installation due to inconsistent and inadequate visual contrast, and the stair edgings have had to be replaced.

“For building owners to enjoy peace of mind and create safe and inclusive environments, all stairs should incorporate a visually contrasting stair edging to every step and it should be a single solid colour to provide consistency and reassurance for people with sight loss. This is also the advice of one of the UK’s leading accessibility advisory bodies, the Royal National Institute of Blind People.”

Gradus offers an extensive range of stair edgings in four profile designs to accommodate most step shapes in a choice of materials, including aluminium and PVC-u. For further information on Gradus stair edgings, please contact Customer Support on 01625 428922 or visit

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