You may be wondering, "How would I describe this very interesting staircase?" The answer, from a piano mover's point of view, "A straight flight of stairs." Bonus points if you counted from the bottom upwards.

How To Describe A Staircase

When describing your staircase to a moving company, never sugar coat it and try to make it sound easier than what it is. It is always better for the mover to expect the worst and be ready for it than for the mover to get there and not have the right number of people of equipment to do the job. Moving day with a house closing is stressful enough; you do not want to mover to say: "Sorry sir, if I'd have known, I would have brought more movers or I would have brought this equipment to do your job or I'm not qualified to do this job safely."

When describing a staircase, remember that every step, twist, turn and landing counts. Here are some common types of staircases. See also, "How To Count Stairs".

Straight Flight of Stairs

A straight flight of stairs
A straight flight of stairs is a staircase that does not have any bends or curves in it. A straight flight of stairs must also have lots of room at the top and bottom to get on and off the staircase.

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Straight Flight of Stairs with a tight turn at top or bottom

Straight flight with a turn
This is a straight staircase that has a moving obstacle at the top or bottom to get on or off the staircase. The staircase itself is straight, but it has a tight turn at the top or bottom. When the turn or landing is usually the width of the staircase: approximately 2-3 feet square, it makes it very difficult for movers to get large objects (like a piano) on and off the staircase. If you notice an opposing wall at the top or bottom of the stairs, where you immediately have to turn left or right when you get to the top or bottom. When the distance from the top of the stairs to the wall is less than 3 feet distance, this is critical in piano moving, because most pianos are 5-6 feet long and 2 feet wide. This is a big deal to the mover, because half of the piano and half the movers are still on the staircase while trying to make this turn. It might not even be able to make the turn.

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Flight of stairs with turn in it

Straight flight with a landing
This is a flight of stairs with landing in it. This is a staircase that contains one or more landings in it. For example, 6 steps, than a square landing the length and width of a stair, than another 6 steps. These staircases are extremely difficult and tight. You want a mover that knows what he is doing to attempt this move.

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Flight of stairs with a pie shape turn in it

This is the same as a flight with turn in it, except that the landing is made up of 2 or 3 pie shape stairs instead of a square landing. These staircase are probably the most difficult moves to do, because there is usually a height restraint problem as well. Not all pianos will fit up or down these staircases, because the move is so tight. You generally only have one chance to do it right.

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Spiral Staircase

A spiral staircase
This is a flight of stairs that is not straight and curves all the way up or down. Most people think these staircases are not a big deal, because they generally look open and have lots of room. To a mover, moving a big object like a piano; these staircases scream danger and automatically require extra manpower. What most people do not realize, is that because the staircase is not straight, the stairs are not the equivalent to a flat surface. As soon as a piano mover starts moving the piano up this style of staircase, the piano will immediately want to throw itself into that nice curved wall. If they do not have the right manpower on this job, to make sure it goes smoothly, you can expect damage to your furniture and walls.

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Staircase with a curve in it

Staircase with a curve in it
This is a spiral staircase, but some people get it confused with straight staircases. This is because half the staircase is straight and half the staircase has a spiral in it and they only describe the easy half of the staircase to the movers. This picture is not the best example, but does show the straight section at the bottom and the curve in the top half of the staircase. This style of staircase is usually more difficult than the spiral staircase, because the turn is much tighter.

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NOTE! Describing a staircase incorrectly can have serious implications:

  1. It could cause the mover to walk away from doing your job due to insufficient manpower. This is a huge deal if you house is closing.
  2. It could cause you to encur extra charges on your job to cover the extra time, manpower, risk and exposure in doing your move.
  3. It could cause your item or merchandise to be damaged, due to mover feeling pressured to do a move with insufficent manpower or less experienced manpower than is required or moving it without the proper equipment.

In these situations, people often ask movers to do things that are unsafe and extremely risky: to "pull off a miracle" or "save the day". Sometimes they win and everything goes ok. Sometimes they lose and their merchandise, home or movers get damged and hurt. This is the last thing anyone wants, please take the extra time to make sure you describe things to the best of your ability.