Spiral Staircases are Helixes, Not Spirals



Is that a spiral elevator with helical leanings in life, with a touch of sidepavement but definite snowflake intentions ?

Paul (BA in BS, PHD in sarcasm)


An underground car park in central Helsinki used to have a spiral car elevator. You drove in, and the machine went one floor down while turning the car round 180 degrees.


We only ever referred to circular stair case as a double helix when the customer bought it up. The majority of my clients talked about spirals (center posts) and circulars. I’ve built around 200 specialty stairs where around 75% were some form of circular stair and around 5% were spiral stairs.


Double helical staircases are very rare :stuck_out_tongue: .

The only one I know of is at Château de Chambord.


When in doubt, consult The Staircase Experts :wink:


Language warning.
A rose by any other name…


It appears that we have differences in semantics. Double helix in our nomenclature means 2 separate stringers. It appears that you interpret it’s meaning to be more than 360 degrees. I consider a DNA strand to be a double helix since there are 2 strands (stringers)

Actually our double helix stairs (circular) were very common. We have built hundreds of them.


In my opinion this is also a double helix and it may be even more than 3,000 degrees


Or is this an Octuplet helix.


Look at the image again. There are 2 disconnected staircases in the same stairwell.


I saw the middle floor the first time. No need to take another look.

As I said - we have a difference in semantics. Our industry would call the stair in the picture you presented as either a double circular or 2 double helix stairs. Only 1 in a hundred clients used the word helix or helical and they invariably had medical degrees. Every one else referred to these type of stairs as circular and when there are 2 flights of stairs they called them double circular.


It seems to me this discussion is spiralling out of control. Or is it helixing?


It’s definitely helixing.


then why do you name it… spiral staircase.jpg ?



I called my design a spiral staircase because it’s technically called a spiral staircase, despite it’s helical shape. I think it should be called a helical staircase though…


You go down a path to madness if you seek to apply any logic to the day-to-day use of language.

It is called a ‘spiral-staircase’, so that’s what it is.
If were called a ‘twisty-staircase’, then that’s what it would be.
The fact that it’s a helical shape, then that is completely irrelevant.
Indeed, there’s a separate ‘helical-stair’, that is in fact a ‘spiral-stair’, that just happens to have no central column !
Or is a ‘spiral-stair’ special case of a ‘helical-stairs’ with a central newel-post ??

It’s completely ‘academic’ !

You might as well argue about other common construction terms like:

lintel / lintol

and so on

They each have specific meanings, but can also refer to other similar elements in other contexts !!

I suggest that is this regard, you try to live with the world as it is, and stop sweating the small stuff.
You can’t hope to change something that most people regard as unimportant !

There are many more things that need ‘fixing’, that are far more important…


I agree with so many of your points. If a new language used imagery to communicate ideas, then I think it would take a lot of the madness out of language. Many of the immaterial things spoken language communicates are irrelevant compared to the material state of reality. Although, there are definitely exceptions. One upside to a visual language would be increased efficacy of communication because a picture has so much more visual detail than a sentence could ever communicate.


I guess this means staircase closed?


Lol. So many puns. Yeah, definitely. We’ve got more important things to worry about.


Using the word helix is simply not commonly understood. So I go with the commonly acceptable phrase - Spiral staircase or Circular staircase.

An analogy would be wanting the specific term for common table sugar.

No - sucrose is insuficient - it is 1-Alpha-D-Glucopyranosyl-2-Beta-D-Fructofuranoside

Not only a mouthful - but no one other than an Organic Chemist perhaps with a Masters degree is going to understand this.

The same goes with Helical. So - no - I’m never going to feel embarrassed calling a helical staircase with a center post a “Spiral Stair”


Helix isn’t some obscure word that you need a masters degree to understand. Also, most people know their DNA is shaped like a helix. In fact, helix is the 19,012th most used word.


I think spiral is much more common because of common vernacular and euphemisms and phrases like “spiraling out of control” “spirochete” and “spiro-graph” “spire” etc.