Inclusive design: outdoor access guidance 4


4. Steps

Steps are difficult for many people with disabilities and usually impossible for wheelchair users. However for some people steps are preferable to ramps. Wherever possible provide a choice of steps and ramp.

Careful design of steps is important to ensure that they are as accessible as possible. The following notes are intended as a basic guide and not as detailed specifications. It is essential that any design meets current Building Regulations.


Single steps as these are easily overlooked.

Ramped steps and angled steps as these are difficult for most people to use.

Design details

Step riser: Maximum 150mm, avoid open risers.

Step tread: Minimum 280mm. (Walking frame users: riser max. 100mm; tread min. 550mm).

Resting platforms, or landings, of approximately 1.8m should be provided for each 1.2m flight of steps.

Step series

Steps should be uniform within a series, with consistent risers and treads. Maximum rise per flight of steps: 1.2m.

Step design

Steps should contract visually with their background. Use paint or contrasting materials to highlight step nosings. Highlights should be at least 55mm deep and extend the full width of the step.


Use textured surfaces on the approaches to the top and bottom of steps to provide warnings for people with visual impairments.


A handrail should be provided on each side of the flight of steps.


Steps should have a slight cross-fall to shed water.


Use materials that give a non-slip, firm and level surface. Avoid materials that reflect light and give high glare.


Regular safety checks and routine maintenance are essential.

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