How Close Can Stairs be to the Front Door?

If you are remodeling your home or planning the layout for a building project, then you’re going to need to think about where the stairs need to be in relation to the front door.

Here we will look at the regulations regarding stairs and front doors, as well as the practical and style considerations you might want to think about.

If you need a straightforward answer, here it is. 

Building code in the US states that the stairs cannot be within 3 feet, or 36 inches, of the front door. Meanwhile, in the UK, this distance is smaller, at over 1 foot, or 15.7 inches.

What are the Rules for Stairs and Doorways?

What are the Rules for Stairs and Doorways?

Building regulations differ from country to country, and even within countries, the code your building needs to adhere to can vary according to local authorities. In the US, building code states that the stairs cannot be within 3 feet, or 36 inches, of the front door.

However, in the UK, this distance is much smaller, at a little over 1 foot, or 15.7 inches, which equates to 40cm in the metric system. The reason for this may be that homes in the UK are generally smaller than those in the US because land comes at a premium due to the high population and small size of the country.

The smaller size of homes in the UK compared with the US could mean that stairs need to be closer to the front door in some cases in order to actually fit in the property.

Why are Stairs Near the Front Door?

Why are Stairs Near the Front Door?

When you start to think about it, you’ll probably realize that in most home layouts, the stairs are close to the front door. There is a practical reason for this that most people don’t know about. When the bottom of the stairs is located close to the front door, it means that in most homes, the top of the stairs will fall in the middle of the upper floor.

Having stairs in the middle of the upper level means that all of the rooms leading off the stairs (typically bedrooms and bathrooms) will be on the outside of the upper-level floor plan.

The result of this is that each of these rooms will have windows, and they will also be in relatively close proximity to the front door via the stairway. All of this means that rooms on the upper floor of the home have two fire exits; the windows and the front door.

Once you understand this, it makes sense that most types of staircases should be near the front door for the safety of everyone within the home.

Functionality of Stairs Next to the Front Door

When planning the layout of your home, you may want to consider how your ideal entryway will look to help you plan where the stairs will be.

Although US regulations state that stairs must be further than 3 feet from the front door, in most cases, it is more common for the stairs to be between 6 and 8 feet from the front door. This allows much more space when you enter your home or when you are welcoming guests into the foyer.

If the stairs are very close to the front door, you will struggle to take your shoes and coat off without banging into things. If you like having furniture in your entryway, then you should also consider the space that this will require. Popular furniture to have in an entryway includes a side table where you can keep your keys and a surface for you to put your mail on as you walk into the home.

A shoe storage unit is also a popular choice to avoid mounds of shoes piling up in front of the front door. A shoe storage unit will help to keep your home neat, and it also makes it convenient for you to grab your shoes just before you head out of the house.

Other pieces of furniture you might want in your home’s entryway include a coat stand, an umbrella rack, or a chair where you can sit to take your shoes on and off.

You might also like to have a full-length mirror in your entryway so that you can check how you look just before you head out into the world. Depending on which of these things you want in your entryway, you will need to plan your stairs accordingly so that your space can accommodate the furniture.

Having stairs too close to the front door, even if it meets legal requirements, can mean that getting in and out of the house is frustrating. You need space to be able to take off boots, coats, and hats without feeling cramped. If you have a dog or children, you might want to allow extra space for strollers or get your dog ready for a walk.

Are Stairs Near the Front Door Stylish?

Are Stairs Near the Front Door Stylish?

If style is your concern, you don’t need to worry. Being able to view the stairs from your front door will not impact the style of the home, and actually, if you choose an unusual design of the staircase, it could even be a great feature. Consider a floating staircase, or a glass barrier instead of stair railings, to make the stairs in your home a stylish centerpiece.

If there are style elements you want to incorporate in your entryways, such as a rug, a mirror, or furniture, then you’ll need to allow enough space to accommodate these, which could mean positioning your stairs further away from the front door in the layout of your home.

If you want to create an impressive entryway, then your stairs should be a good distance from the front door, ensuring a spacious, open feel.

Can Stairs Near the Front Door Affect a Home’s Energy?

Feng Shui practitioners work to improve the energy flow in a home, and one of the most important areas of the home, according to this practice, is the front door. This is because the front door is seen as the mouth of the home because it is the main source of incoming energy.

If a staircase is too close to the front door, or if it is directly in front of the front door, then this can be a problem in feng shui. It is believed that in this instance, the energy that flows into your home would rush upstairs too quickly, therefore depriving the lower floor of your home of energy.

For this reason, feng shui recommends that stairs be more than 10 feet from the front door, especially if the stairs are directly facing the front door.

You should also aim to ensure your entryway feels open and spacious because a narrow hallway or dark and narrow staircase can make the energy feel trapped. Another thing to consider regarding feng shui is how well your door opens and the available space around it.

If your entryway is small because of nearby stairs, and you try to cram furniture in, then this will make for a cramped space, which is bad for feng shui. If your front door cannot open to its full width, or if anything is blocking the door from doing this, then you should move it. A front door that cannot be opened fully is a sign of bag energy in feng shui.

Can a Front Door Be at the Top of the Stairs?

The placement of a front door at the top of the stairs is a design element that requires careful consideration, both from an aesthetic viewpoint and, more importantly, due to safety and building regulations. While uncommon, this configuration can be found in certain types of homes, particularly in hilly areas or in buildings where the main living area is elevated. 

For interior doors, you can also place a door at the top of the stairs as long as you can meet certain requirements, as explained in the article ‘ Can You Put a Door at the Top of Stairs? ‘