I have to build a door frame on a staircase.

Problem is, at the bottom of the staircase are already 3 doors on all the walls, so putting another door right at the bottom of the stairs (on the landing) would make the new door totally overlap one of the existing doors at the bottom.

So, I'm thinking to build the frame 3 steps up the stairs, so the door can swing open and not overlap the other doors. But then it wouldn't open on a landing, it would open on 3 steps of stairs THEN a landing.

Somebody mentionned that there's a safety hazard because the door wouldn't open on a landing, but then again if you're coming down the stairs, you've been up the stairs before so you know there's no immediate landing??

Is the code against this, or is it up to me to decide?

EDIT: About putting the door at the top of staircase, the top floor is big, open "loft" type of room and the staircase leading up to it has no ceiling. It would be hugely impractical to frame a door at the top because..there is no wall or ceilings around the top of the staircase, just a guard rail :)

The main reason for putting the door at the bottom was to block public access to the stairs (the bottom floor of the building is a restaurant, the top floor residential -- very old building)

  • I take it the three other doors include one to outside and one to rhe restaurant from this vestibule... Door partway up is going to run into ceiling over stairs unless it's a shortened or non-rectangular door or you have a wide-open stairwell. I think any of these options will have trouble pasxing fire code. I still think framing in the top of the stairs is your best bet for passing fire code, though giving the restaurant its own door to outside might make a base-of-stairs door practical.
    – keshlam
    Nov 6, 2015 at 19:07
  • @keshlam -> "Door partway up is going to run into ceiling over stairs unless it's a shortened or non-rectangular door or you have a wide-open stairwell" The ceiling is 10 ft tall so no, the door won't touch the ceiling in any way when open Nov 6, 2015 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


In every town that I have done building you would have to provide a landing area to put this door and the landing would need to be at minimum 36". I do not know how that would work on an existing staircase so I would say the answer is simply no for most towns.

However your best bet is to call local inspector and ask them if they will allow anything or offer any alternatives.

  • And this is purely speculative and also needs to be OK'ed by the inspector but you may be able to install a horizontal accordian gate. This wouldn't give you full clearance (but a door wouldn't either) but could be locked. This would be the safer thing in your situation.
    – DMoore
    Nov 6, 2015 at 20:44

I will only add more of the same, there is no way you can put a door in the middle of the stairs, there MUST be a landing or floor on one side or the other. You cannot have it grandfathered in if you have an old building, that only goes for existing conditions, not a new door you wish to add.

Just a thought, if the door is to stay closed all the time to keep the public out, would it matter if it overlaps the other doors or not? I have seen many awkward arrangements for doors.

Since it is in a restaurant, you really need to check with the fire marshal for this. A door in this area may be a fire escape hazard.

  • But Jack doesn't seeing a door in the middle of stairs make you smile a bit. Who knows what is on the other side? It seems magical a bit... until someone breaks their arm walking down the stair and opening the door... or opening the door one someone walking up the stairs.
    – DMoore
    Nov 7, 2015 at 5:39
  • Yup, just reading what you wrote just made me laugh a bit picturing it, kinda like slapstick...
    – Jack
    Nov 7, 2015 at 6:53
  • 1
    You are walking up the stairs, bam door right in your face. Only done by Howard Fine Howard Construction.
    – DMoore
    Nov 7, 2015 at 7:16
  • Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.
    – Jack
    Nov 7, 2015 at 7:28

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