Stairs are Engineered to Survive a Seismic Event

Construction Specialties (CS) have engineered DriftReady Stairs, a safe solution for occupants’ and first responders’ egress and ingress during and after a seismic event. Architects can now specify a tested, safe, and resilient stairs solution that can reduce building repair cost and recovery time after a seismic event.

DriftReady Stairs can reduce building repair cost and recovery time after a seismic event.
DriftReady Stairs can reduce building repair cost and recovery time after a seismic event.

Building Movement Experts

Over the past fifty years, Construction Specialties has taken on some of the industry’s toughest challenges — and emerged as an industry leader, making buildings better with progressive solutions that tackle the issues of building movement. CS started with expansion joints, creating solutions that accommodate seismic movement without compromising aesthetics. The company now applies that same strategy to its innovation — DriftReady Stairs.

The development of DriftReady Stairs followed CS’ long tradition of asking questions and listening to customers. A common challenge the company found is that during building movement, stairs tend to transfer force back into the building, and this is how stair connections often fail — rendering stairs vulnerable, unsafe, and often unusable.

The Backbone of Safety

In trying to develop a safe and resilient stair system, Construction Specialties thought of the human backbone — it provides support, but it also flexes with the movement of the body. DriftReady Stairs’ patent-pending technology keeps stairs stable at rest, yet flexible when a building moves.

DriftReady Stairs have a positive connection system that prevents the stairs from locking up in rotation or transverse movements. The stairs move with the building, so instead of acting like a brace and transferring damaging forces back to the building, the system flexes and accommodates the movement without impacting the stairs or its surrounding components.

Interstory Drift

Stairs can negatively impact the engineering of a building during a seismic event. In creating DriftReady Stairs, Construction Specialties researched, tested, and packaged a stair solution that accommodates seismic movement and interstory drift.

CS studied dozens of stair systems that were compromised during seismic events. Tests revealed that strengthening stair connections was not the answer — the stair system needed to move with the building, not play anchor. Hard welding and added reinforcements only caused stairs to break more quickly under severe stress.

Best practices and industry standards say stairs should accommodate an interstory drift of 2.5 percent during a seismic event. CS conducted two full-scale shake table tests in the Earthquake Engineering Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, to develop solutions that go beyond 2.5 percent interstory drift. DriftReady Stairs proved to be a seismically resilient solution able to accommodate interstory drift of 4 percent and beyond.

Specify Safe Stairs

Construction Specialties’ acquisition of Platform Manufacturing Group, a steel-stair manufacturer based in Melissa, Texas, brings its seismic technology to bear on a brand respected for its steel stairs. In addition to a seismic stair solution, CS can now supply modular stairs, which can save your project time and money, while increasing the safety of the job site.

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