Don’t let “Big Staircase” trick you into falling down a flight of stairs again, thanks to this new textured floor pattern that makes the top/bottom steps obvious!


Staircases are surprisingly perilous. Most people have, at some point, attempted to step up onto a “phantom” additional top step or been surprised to encounter the ground floor a step early (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: When walking on the staircase (blue), it’s possible to lose track of where the steps actually end. This is especially easy to do when carrying an object that obscures one’s vision of the floor.

Some commercial buildings indicate the very top and bottom of a flight of stairs with a raised pattern. However, this is 1) not reliable and 2) rare in residential dwellings.


In order to intuitivelyinform the staircase user which step they are on, a few topmost and bottommost steps can be marked with standardized raised markings that can be easily felt while walking (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: Possible step patterns: the top step is marked with a raised “” pattern, the second next step with “𑁔”, and the third step with a “≈” . Now a person will intuitively “feel” when they are nearing the end of a staircase.

Fig. 3: Left: A real-world example of a confusing carpeted stairway, where the texture seems to have been specifically selected to be as confusing as possible. Right: a proposed visual color-coding element to distinguish specific stairs, as follows: Striped blue: bottom landing. Green: bottom stair. Red: top stair. Striped orange: top landing.


This could probably actually work! Standardization might be difficult, however, and it’s not immediately clear what the best solution would be for a small staircase with only a couple of steps.

PROS: Adds the possibility for new and exciting onerous regulations for property owners! Adds more work for OSHA inspectors to do.

CONS: People who expect these textures might then fall down regular unmarked stairs (“well I can’t be on the bottom step, I haven’t felt the textured pattern yet”).