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Unless you’re familiar with industry terms for various spiral stair components, tread “sleeves” are not something you really think about, or even something you’re really aware of. Especially since it’s not necessarily a term that applies to every spiral stair build system. Not all manufacturers and kits utilize tread sleeves.

Because not all manufacturers use them, it’s worth looking into exactly what the advantage of them over other construction methods is and why they’re worth the investment. Knowing the benefits of tread sleeves will make you seek out manufacturers that offer them over other building methods.

Advantage of Collar/Sleeve Assembly Method
A sleeve works by first erecting the spiral stair’s center column in place and securing it to the floor. This center column is the primary support for the entire structure, and therefore, must somehow act as the base for your treads as well.

The sleeve, which is the “ring” or collar portion of a tread that uses sleeves, then slides directly over the column like a ring over a finger. The collar is then secured in place via some hardware. Because the tread and ring like sleeve are one solid piece that wraps all of the way around the column rather than simply attaching to one side via brackets and a few screws, any weight applied to the top of the tread is better distributed and there is left shifting. And the longer or taller the collar portion, the better (though you don’t want your collars to be too long/tall because then your treads, and ergo, your risers will have too great a gap between them.

Continuous vs Adjustable Sleeves
Because the actual size of the collars can be changed, the style of tread sleeves and the different advantages and benefits they off can also be changed according to you and your project’s needs.

Continuous:
One style of sleeve is pre-cut so that, once all the treads are stacked atop one another, they add up to the exact height of your project’s specifications. These are called continuous because of the seamless/”continuous” look they offer of one tread leading directly into the other without interruption all the way up the center column.

This is a great perk in a tread style. The only requirements to know for certain what your floor-to-floor height is going to be ahead of time/before ordering your spiral stair. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with pre-cut sleeves for the wrong height.

Adjustable:
Adjustable sleeves come all in a standard, uniform cut. These are designed to be adjusted up and down the center column until the spacing between the treads, and thus overall height, matches that of your project. Thus “adjustable” sleeve. The immediate advantage of this style of sleeve is that you do not need to know the exact floor-to-floor-height of your project when ordering the stair. Just a ballpark figure.

‘Solid’ Aesthetic of Continuous
One desirable element in a kit stair, ironically, is for it to look as un-“kit” like as possible. In order to accomplish this, the stair needs to have the feeling of a solid piece with as few seams revealing where pieces meet and as little hardware visible as possible. The use of treads help accomplish the later goal of concealing hardware from view because the tread-to-column connection is less reliant on hardware. The former is accomplished specifically through the use of such features as a continuous sleeves.

Continuous sleeves are so named because they give the illusion of one tread collar leading directly into the next without any sort of interruption of obstruction. Which makes the center column look like one solid piece. Which in turn gives the spiral stair an overall more handcrafted feel and look of quality.

Ease of Assembly
Besides the cleaner aesthetics of continuous sleeves and the ability for adjustable sleeves to fit any project, a further benefit to consider when it comes to the tread sleeve system is that of ease of installation. The use of sleeves for a tread means less hardware. Less hardware to deal with always translates to less headache and hassle when it comes to any kind of home installation project.

All you’re doing is sliding a hoop over a pole and fastening it in place. That’s it. Once one and secured, you don’t have to worry about loosening or shifting either.

Simpler Maintenance
Because the amount of hardware is reduced thanks to the collars—as is the amount of loosening and shifting your tread, and stair overall, will experience—the amount of maintenance that will be necessary is also significantly reduced. This is also because less hardware means fewer separate components rubbing and grating against one another regularly. Which translates to fewer areas to repaint and fewer areas being scratched, and thus, exposed to the possibility of corrosion.

Easy to Paint Surface
In specific regards to continuous sleeves, a further advantage of collars is having a much easier to paint surface. This is because the center column will have a smoother outline over which it will be much simpler to apply a coat of paint evenly.

In the case of adjustable and continuous, it will be easier to apply a coat of paint evenly because you won’t have to deal with the small bumps/ridges created by extra hardware. Painting around a nut and bolt while keeping your application pretty is not simple feat.

As mentioned above, there will be less maintenance due to there being fewer components grating against each other. Which means your initial paint job will last longer and maintain its luster better. It also means you’ll have to reapply paint to fewer joints and less often down the road.

Making Your Choice
With these advantages and benefits in mind, you’re better equipped to choose which category of tread collar is best suited to your purpose and to move forward with your final stair purchasing decision.

Sleeves will provide with a more stable stair due to a more solid connection between the column and the tread, a cleaner look due to the reduction in hardware, a more maintenance free option due to the reduction in parts rubbing, and a more even coat of paint due to the reduction in hardware jutting out at the connection points.

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