Stairs Etiquette 101

Updated on December 12, 2016
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing for HubPages for over 7 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

Climb Those Stairs!

You would think climbing stairs and walking down stairs would be an easy enough task, but apparently, figuring out the proper way to do so is not that easy for some folks. So yes, it is time for Stairs Etiquette 101.

First and foremost, the etiquette I would like to cover today is the proper use of public stairs. I have to believe (of course, I've been wrong before!) that most people know how to use the stairs in their home. I have to hope people have that one figured out because I am really afraid for society as a whole if I need to discuss that. Since I am on the subject, I will give you some basics for using your stairs at home:

A) Don't knock anyone down the stairs.

B) Don't trip anyone while using the stairs.

C) Pick up your stuff and don't clutter the stairs. It is a safety hazard.

There, I feel like I covered that information enough. If you are still having difficulty figuring out proper stairs etiquette in your own home, I am sorry. There is not a whole lot more I can do for you. Good luck with that.

The real purpose of writing Stairs Etiquette 101 is to discuss proper etiquette when using public stairs. There are many people using stairs in public places that are not minding their manners. I would like to give those people some helpful tips. By the way, all three suggestions for the proper use of stairs in your home also applies to public stairs. Please do not trip anyone, knock anyone over, or clutter public stairs either!

Keep to One Side of the Stairs

When using the stairs in a public place, such as an office building, shopping center, or other similar location, it is a good idea to stay to one side while climbing the stairs. If the staircase is pretty narrow, please do not walk down the center of the stairs, especially if you see other people are trying to use it. Guess what? No one can jump over you and there is nowhere to go. It is stairs! So move over to the side so the rest of us can use them.

I've found that many people tend to walk on the right side of the stairs in the U.S. since we drive on the right side of the road. If you see this is what the crowd is doing, you should do this as well. Now is not the time to rebel against the rest of society. Go get some crazy piercing or something if you want to be rebellious. Don't walk in the middle of the stairs and block everyone else.

Look Before Going on Your Journey

If you are about to use the stairs and it is an extremely tight space that will only fit one person at a time, stop, look around, and see if anyone else is already using the stairs. If you see a person coming your way down the stairs when you are trying to go up, WAIT for that person to come down the stairs. You see, once again, no one is going to want to try to squeeze around you. If you see another person coming, it is very rude to continue on your way anyway. No one can jump over you and no one should have to turn around to go back up the stairs just because you are rude.

Leave the Railing for Those that Need It

Sometimes people just take up a lot of space on the stairs. This is just a fact of life. A person might be overweight, or he is carrying 5 bags, or she is holding a child's hand walking him up the stairs. If there are a lot of people using the stairs, mind the people around you. If it looks like someone is having some problems, make sure you leave some space so that person can hold on to the railing. For instance, if you are walking along and not using the railing, but you see an elderly person that seems to be having some issues, make sure there is some space for that person to get beside the railing. Some people (myself included) are prone to dizzy spells on the stairs and really need the railing at times. If you don't need it, don't hog that space.

Furthermore, while we are on the topic of the railing, how about everyone stop leaving mystery substances on the railing? Please do not add a ton of lotion to your hands just as you are about to grab the railing to climb the stairs. I mean, seriously, why would you choose that moment to apply lotion anyway? At least... I hope it is lotion. Yuck! For that matter, if you are eating, oh, I don't know, a Cinnabon or something, don't smear that on the railing either. You see, those of us that rely on the railing might slide on that stuff. Then we might fall down the stairs and die. You don't want to kill someone, do you? So stop being gross!

Don't Bang the Door Open

If you are lucky enough to live in an apartment building or office building that has poorly lit, concrete stairs stuck in the back of the building somewhere, I'll bet you just love using those stairs, right? Normally these stairs also have a giant, heavy door that you must use to access the stairs. Inevitably, there is always at least one person in any building that loves to push that door as hard as possible to get into the stairs. Oh, good for you! You are so strong since you can slam that heavy door into the stairwell like that! Oh look, you just knocked out someone that was trying to use the stairs.

If you have to push on a door to get to the stairs, please keep in mind you are not the only person using those stairs. There could be someone walking by at the exact moment you push in the door. If you are not careful, you are going to harm that person. Open the door slowly so you and anyone else using the stairs, has the opportunity to move out of the way. This is especially the case if the fire alarm is sounding off and everyone is forced to use the stairs at once. Keep in mind, an entire building full of people needs to evacuate. Don't kill anyone with the door just to save yourself from a little smoke coming from overcooked popcorn in a microwave oven.

Fun With Etiquette!

I hope this has been another extremely informative time for you. Now you know all the basics on using public stairs and the etiquette that goes along with it. In general, the basic rule you need to know is do everything in your power so another human does not fall down the stairs while using them. If you look at it that way, I am sure you can't go wrong. Thanks for reading and happy stairs climbing to you!

Questions & Answers


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    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      No problem. :-) Congrats on having the Hub of the Day!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Oh, I see what you mean; the folks who stop and hang over the railing to do some sightseeing... that, then, makes sense. Thanks for clarifying. Cheers!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I always find that keeping to the side, but using the stairs at a good speed leaves the railing open for others. Some people just hang over the railing for too long like they own it.

      Yes, the disgusting railings are just awful. I don't know what some people are doing on the stairs! Eww! Thanks for the comment.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very true...but for one is impossible to keep to one side AND avoid 'hogging the railing' space at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive positions. To keep away from the railing IS to walk in the center.... ... ... just sayin' ... ...

      But anyway--come to think of it--stairs are not usually a side-by-side walking place anyway---they are an in-front-of-and-behind-walking position...ergo, the railing does remain available for anyone needing it... ...

      However, must agree on the 'goopy' railings that you don't want to touch. UGH. Oh, and don't occupy the railings by sliding down them, or letting your kids do so!..And that goes double or triple for this new bike and skateboard fad of "grinding," (sliding the vehicle down or across assorted railings and barricades)!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is so true. Honestly, that is probably the theme to all of my etiquette hubs. Thanks for the comment!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Really, it is all about consideration. Have consideration for others and you should be fine.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Yes, I wish more people would read this. I get very frustrated with people that do not understand the basics of stairs, escalator, and elevator etiquette. The people that stop in front of me are the most frustrating. This is especially the case with the escalator. Apparently no one explained to some people that just because you stop, it doesn't mean the escalator stops. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      rmcleve 6 years ago

      Thank you! After living overseas and visiting major cities with established social rules about how to use stairs and escalators, I get overly irritated when people stop in front of me, dilly dally, or take the wrong side of the stairs! It seems people in major urban areas understand a little bit better out of necessity and I try to be forgiving with people. It's just one of those little things that gets to me...

      Perhaps some of those people will find this hub! I think it'd be a big help.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      You're welcome. I am happy to help. Thanks for reading my hub!

    • Harriette Miller profile image

      Harriette Miller 6 years ago from Sairee, Koh Tao, 84360, Thailand

      I feel dizzy every time I seen stairs. I learn a lot. Thanks for simple yet good tips!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks, everyone! I am glad you liked reading about stairs etiquette. I am surprised how many people need extra help with this matter, so I decided to write a hub about it. Thanks for the comments!

    • tarajeyaram profile image

      tarajeyaram 6 years ago from Wonderland

      Great hub and a fun way to talk about stairs etiquette. Voting up and across.

    • profile image

      onlooker 6 years ago

      What a way to express stairs etiquette. Loved it! People should obviously learn from this. Thank you.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 6 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Loving your tips - stairs etiquette is very important.

      You tend to get a few people ignoring this on busy London tube stations, where there are lots of stairs and escalators. They either go up on the wrong side or hog the space. Very annoying.

      Voting up :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Happy to say that I've been implementing most of these without even knowing there was such a thing as stairs etiquette. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Hopefully this hub will help many people become more aware of stairs and how to use them. It is pretty sad that I even had to write this. People can be so rude at times! Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Oh man... all these years I have been using the stares wrong ;) This is a great hub and totally funny. It is sad though how so many of these tips, which could be thought of as common sense, are often times not used. Hopefully this gets heard out there so there can stop being people tripped and sliding on handrails and being smashed by doors. Because seriously... that would not be funny! :)

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I am glad I can help society with my etiquette hubs. I can't believe how many times I've almost been knocked down on stairs. Thanks for reading and thanks for the vote up!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi jeannie, I love your etiquette hubs! good helpful advice - I hope all the people that run up and down stairs on the 'wrong' side are reading this!

      A big vote up, thank you.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Yes, some people are in such a hurry to run up or down those stairs. I started to add that to the list, but honestly, I've been known to do that a time or two myself. I guess I should have still added it. Sometimes I have to admit even I have a bad habit that goes against my own rules of etiquette!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is a great hub, it's just a shame that some people lack common sense and need to be told.

      What annoys me most is the person in a rushes and runs up/down weaving in and out of everyone and shoving many in the process.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thank you for dropping by my hub and thanks for the comment.

    • beijing driver profile image

      Xin Ping 6 years ago from Beijing, China

      It is very good to read you article.

      Feel free come to visit mine , more information about travel to China .

      You will know hpw many stairs on the Great Wall .

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thank you both for your comments. More people need to learn proper stairs etiquette. And yes, it should begin at a young age. I did not have stairs in my house as a child, so I feel I was forced to catch up later in life. :-)

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 6 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Absofreakenlutely!! Stair etiquette is absent, and it's downright uncivilized to use the stairs in any fashion that's absent of your etiquette rules!

      I don't think enough people were forced to go up the stairs and down again as children until they learned the proper use of stairs.

    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 6 years ago from Arizona

      Great tips. Although this should be common sense, many people don't know the importance of stairway etiquette. I shall refer some of my friends to this hub haha!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks, everyone! Yes, I am surprised this hub needed to be written, too, yet it does. I was at the mall the other day and thought, "I must write a hub about stairs etiquette!" And yes, Angela, perhaps there should be a Walmart etiquette hub. I have a checkout line hub, but I suppose the two would be different.

    • artsyamerican profile image

      artsyamerican 6 years ago from Florida

      I agree with lisa! Something this basic shouldn't have to be covered....but sadly it does! Great hub!

    • profile image 6 years ago

      What a shame that there needs to be an article written on something so basic. Good hub.

    • angela p profile image

      angela p 6 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Isn't it sad that people can be so rude about things like this? I have to hop over and read your escalator hub since I get annoyed at people every time I go to the airport and ride one of those things. Great hub! I think you should do one on etiquette for shopping at Walmart. I leave there mad just about every time I go.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Great job Jeannie! These are helpful and as millionaire tips said, some folks really do need the advice.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      These are great tips Jeannie. Sad that people need them, but I know they do.