SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
intelinside1

Metal Spiral Staircase - Riser / Toe-Kick Retrofit for Dog Safety?

intelinside1
4 years ago

Hi I'm moving into a 2 story house that just has a little metal spiral staircase like the photo below. I also have a couple small dogs 5 lbs and 10 lbs. My 2 dogs are pretty adventurous like to climb normal stairs already and run around the house a lot.


Anyways I wanted to possibly retrofit the spiral staircase to make it more safe. It just seems like the gap between the steps could lead to injury.


I think that gap is called the "riser" or "Toe-kick"


Any recommendations for keeping it safe for the little furry ones?



Comments (22)

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    4 years ago

    Obviously not in NA that would not pass inspection unless it only goes to loft space.As for closing the riser space I can’t think of anything that would look decent maybe just get a iron baby gate to keep the furry ones from getting on the stairs

    intelinside1 thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • PRO
    Demax Staircase&Railing
    4 years ago

    The gap is so much.US Code require a gap in 4". The staircase riser should be closed and railing gap in 4"

  • Fori
    4 years ago

    If there is another staircase, I'd just put an expen around this one and not let them use it. Cats, sure. Dogs? nah. :)

    But show your specific staircase when you can and maybe it'll be easier to deal with than this one.

    intelinside1 thanked Fori
  • ninigret
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    make sure before you remove yours (if thats what you do) you can put a new one in that is also not code compliant. code compliant spiral stairs are huge... a retrofit of yours might be the safest course. we were allowed to swap our existing horrible one for a merely terrible one. not sure if we would have been able to trade new horrible for the old horrible. (and i worry it might come back to haunt us, the same town inspector is looking at our screen porch plans, adjacent to the pool, and stroking his chin)

    intelinside1 thanked ninigret
  • intelinside1
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I was actually thinking of adding wood on each step. I think if I add a couple inches it would close that gap. Then possibly retrofit a riser/toekick so there's no gap.


    My dogs are almost like cats they jump onto beds, jump off couches, one climbs up on my shoulder while I'm sitting on the desk lol. I still want to make it safe though

  • RaiKai
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hmm. Looking at these particular stairs I think closing off the riser area would lead to very “short” steps and just be unsafe for you or other humans. If yours are similar, that would be my concern. As is, for you, I recommend you always walk on the “outside” of staircase, use handrail, and don’t be in a rush!

    Do you have other stairs elsewhere? If yes, maybe just close these off with gates or have them removed (and upstairs floor repaired and closed in obviously). They are “quaint” but not practical.

    I do understand your concerns - I am not a fan of open risers being mixed with pets. My cat is pretty nimble but loves to tear up and down stairs and these would not be a good fit for her!

  • _sophiewheeler
    4 years ago

    Get rid of it.

  • judymn
    4 years ago
    I have the same staircase to my lower level. I've lived here 23 years. My stairs are carpeted which makes them nicer and safer to walk on. When my children were crawling we had a child safety gate at the top. When they were toddlers to preteens we had black plastic mesh "screening" attached to the outside of the railing the entire way up. Never had any issues with it. Our dog, nor any other dog would go down those steps. We think it was because they couldn't see the bottom. good luck.
  • PRO
    BeverlyFLADeziner
    4 years ago

  • palimpsest
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Sometimes these gaps are closed from the top of the riser area with the gap left at the bottom at the back of the tread. Plus the spindles need to be filled in.

  • intelinside1
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Thanks guys.

    I can’t remove it as it’s the only stair case to the second floor besides a similar outdoor spiral staircase

    The lot size is tiny and the house only has 4 ft setback on each side with 3 ft walkways. There’s no place to add new stairs because it’s a very narrow long house (close to the beach so the houses are built on tiny 3500 sf lots and built up)

    I like the ideas of closing the risers from the rear. And also closing the rail gaps

    I’d like to make them look nicer too so I was thinking of adding wood to them on top

    I might have to Gate the dogs off from going up and down. Or maybe even add carpet for padding. Either way something has to be done
  • palimpsest
    4 years ago

    Stairs like this are still allowable where I live, because otherwise a large number of very small houses would be uninhabitable and the lot sizes would have to be doubled in order to build on the lots. (There are lots here that are literally 11x15 feet, 13 x 13 feet, etc.)

  • RaiKai
    4 years ago

    Oh, I thought of this post this morning when this listing showed up in my email (I need to really "unsubscribe" to some of these realtor mailing lists!) and it had these stairs. The wood and it looks like non-slip carpeting or other material might make them a little easier for even pups. There is a separate "normal" but rather steep staircase in same house but they go up to an entirely separate loft space than these ones do.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with as a solution!


  • Bri Bosh
    4 years ago
    If you want to keep the open look use plexiglass to seal off the back, leaving gap at bottom.
  • graywings123
    4 years ago

    Looking at this from a temporary DIY point of view, you could make a riser for each step using close-cell chicken wire or metal screen material pulled taut that you connect at the four corners with nylon zip ties. You could use the same material for the sides.

    It won't be pretty but it should work.


  • PRO
    Horner Millwork
    4 years ago

    We just did this stair with oil rubbed bronze risers - an option that would fit in with the style of your spiral.

  • Snaggy
    4 years ago

    How will you get furniture to the first floor

  • snarkyinla
    4 years ago
    No chance in hell I’d let my dogs anywhere near that. If they fell and hurt or killed themselves I’d be in therapy the rest of my life.
  • jonathon frame
    2 years ago

    I have just moved into a rental with very much the same problem and looking to dog-proof it from my excited Jack Russell. What did you do in the end?

  • Larena Wallis
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    We stayed at a rental house earlier this year and the staircase was very similar to yours and freaked me out with our two year old who thought the staircase was a playground. I ended up using a narrow rope to create a temporary safety net. The rope was very tight and stayed in place. It also worked as a safer railing for her. She was still always supervised but I had a lot less anxiety. Maybe a more permanent version of this could work for you.



  • Christopher Algiere
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I moved into an apartment with a spiral staircase and trained my dog how to use it. Here's how I did it:

    Materials: Cheap sheets, about 20 small refrigerator magnets, a rotisserie chicken.

    I bought the cheapest sheets I could find and cut them into rectangles to hide the gaps in the stairs. I just used some cheap magnets to hold the sheets in place. Then I wrapped the first few stairs worth of railing in the other sheet so it looked like a totally enclosed staircase.

    I placed some chicken on the first few steps and showed my dog how to get up one of them. He had no problem on the first step so I started placing the chicken on higher stairs. My dog is suspicious and has stage fright so eventually I just left the chicken on the stairs and left the room so he couldn't see me.

    He started to get braver, going higher and higher. I never actually saw him go all the way up to the top, but one day about a week into training, I went upstairs and he followed me a few seconds later. Going down took a little while more, but he figured it out. I think just showing him that I was fine going up and down and covering the gaps gave him the confidence to do it. So my recommendation is to hide the scary parts of the stairs and don't pressure your dog, try to incentivize him with a high value treat.

    I should mention that we took down the ugly cut up sheets about a week later and he's still fine to up and down. Good luck!