Pros & Cons Of Concrete Filled Metal Pan Stair Treads

What are concrete filled metal pan stairs?

Concrete filled metal pan stairs are a tread system commonly used in steel stairs for commercial and residential buildings. The concrete filled tread system consists of a metal pan which is then filled with concrete at the construction jobsite. 

Typically 1.5" concrete is field-poured into each stair pan individually like the detail and photo below. 

concrete filled metal pan stair metal pan stair tread detail

 

What are metal pan stair treads?

Metal pan stair treads are treads formed into a pan to hold the concrete in place. The metal pan includes a nosing that bends up and back toward the riser to create a concrete form. 

The steel pan treads are fabricated and attached to the stair stringers in the manufacturer's or fabricator's facility. The concrete is field-poured into the metal pan to establish the walking surface of the stair tread. 

Advantages & disadvantages of concrete filled metal pan stair treads

Pros

Concrete filled metal pan stair treads have been the standard tread system for steel egress stairs for many decades. The tread system has several benefits which make it a great option for certain egress stair applications.

  • Concrete treads are durable
  • They have a slip resistant walking surface
  • They are relatively low maintenance
  • Relatively quiet compared to metal treads
  • They have been used for decades

 

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Cons

The main cons of concrete metal pan stair treads is that they are costly, time consuming, and result in safety hazards at the jobsite. Field pouring concrete into individual stair treads fails to meet the demands for today's rapid paced construction schedules.

 

Field pouring concrete stair treads is costly, messy, and time consuming at the jobsite

Consider that each stair tread contains 1.5" of concrete. For a 4' wide stair tread, that's about 80 lbs of concrete per stair tread. That doesn't seem like a lot until you calculate for a typical 10 story building with 500 stair pans, and now you have 40,000 lbs of concrete to pour! 

A concrete finisher must  pour each one of those stair pans individually inside an enclosed stairwell on an uneven stair surface. Often the concrete finishers must hoist the concrete up with buckets or tubs to each pan location. Needless to say, this is not an efficient construction process. Here is a video of a cement finisher finishing concrete stair treads at a jobsite. 

 

Safety hazard of concrete filled metal pan stair treads

Metal pan treads are designed with a nosing that extends up and backward toward the riser.  The nosing creates a safety hazard for people attempting to use the stairway prior to concrete being poured into the pans.

Because of this safety hazard OSHA 1926.1052(b)(1) prohibits construction crews from using metal pan stairs during construction unless temporary tread inserts are installed . These can be wood, foam, or any other durable material. Installing the temporary inserts is another time consuming and costly process, often costing as much as the concrete treads themselves. In many cases crews end up using the stairs without inserts, resulting in safety hazards.

 

Metal pan stairs with concrete treads cost vs other systems

Concrete poured metal pan stairs have 3 cost items associated with each tread. 

Cost Item Concrete filled metal pan stair tread
Metal pan material and fabrication cost $35 per tread
Poured concrete material and installation cost $35 per tread
Temporary inserts $20 per tread
Total Cost $90 per tread

 

Alternatives to concrete filled metal pan stair treads

Various alternative tread systems to concrete metal pan stair treads exist with benefits and disadvantages. Lapeyre Stair set out to develop a stair tread system that can outperform concrete for everyone on the project:  building owners, architects, general contractors, steel erectors, and finishing trades.

 

A new approach: The Quiet Grip™ tread system

The Quiet Grip™ tread system is durable, lightweight, slip resistant, sound dampening, and has a commercially appealing aesthetic. It  reduces time and cost for the construction project.

Quiet Grip works with Lapeyre Stair's line of commercial prefab egress stair systems and bolted steel stairs for industrial use.

The Quiet Grip tread works as a substitute for metal pan concrete filled stairs and diamond plate stair treads in commercial steel stairs and industrial steel stair applications: egress stairs, mezzanine stairs, crossover stairs, or any other stair application with a need for a non slip surface. 

Quiet Grip™ meets all ASTM, OSHA and IBC building code requirements for non-slip surfaces and use during construction. Quiet Grip™ works for egress stairs in structural steel, CMU, or concrete stairwell construction. 

Cost advantage

For an average 44" wide stair, the Quiet Grip™ tread costs less than $25 making it the most cost-effective tread system of any alternative. Quiet Grip™ saves $33 per tread compared to a metal pan with field poured concrete.

Cost Item

Quiet Grip™

3/16” Diamond Tread

Epoxy Coating

Metal Pan with Poured Concrete

Tread Material Cost

$57

$65

$60

$35

Temporary Tread Inserts / Protective Coverings
$0

$0

$8

$20

Poured Concrete material and installation

$0

$0

$0

$35

Total Cost

$57

$65

$68

$90

Quiet Grip™ Cost Savings

 

$8 per tread (12%)

$11 per tread (16%)

$33 per tread (37%)

 

The Quiet Grip tread system  is a 2-part tread system. It includes a base "construction phase" tread and a permanent, non slip, bolt-on tread cover. 

Quiet Grip stair tread

 

Long-term durability

The Quiet Grip™ tread cover is a lightweight metal tread coated with an abrasive polyurethane coating. (You can find the Quiet Grip™ CSI format specification here). Polyurethane coatings have been used in building materials, equipment, outdoor furniture and many other applications for many years. Polyurethanes are extremely abrasive resistant, heat resistant, and durable, making them a great fit for stair tread applications. For a typical exit stairway, this coating should last the life of the stair. The coating can be formulated in virtually any color to match the finish of the stairwell for a high-end commercial finish. 

non slip stair tread

Slip resistant for improved safety

The Quiet Grip™ tread has been tested for slip resistance and performed better than traditional diamond plate material.  It meets the IBC, ADA, and NFPA requirements for slip resistance. With a measured Coefficient of Friction of 0.68 in a wet environment, Quiet Grip ™ surpasses the minimum standards for Coefficient of Friction and the Pendulum Test Value for the most commonly adopted standards of slip resistance. 

Rapid bolt-on installation

Quiet Grip™ treads are installed through a simple bolt-on process. Threaded inserts are factory-applied to the underside of the sub-tread so that the tread cover can be aligned and bolted in place quickly and easily.

Each tread cover weighs about 12 lbs making it light enough to easily be carried by a single person up and down a stairwell. Each tread takes about 1 minute to install.

Field crews can install Quiet Grip™ treads after the stairs have been finished and painted eliminating the potential for damage during construction. Alternatively, treads can be factory-installed with a protective covering for construction. 

Sound dampening to reduce noise

Quiet Grip™ treads also provide superior sound dampening properties vs any other tread system. We measured the decibel levels of the Quiet Grip™ tread vs concrete treads and diamond plate treads. Quiet Grip™ compared favorably to concrete and provided 50% noise reduction over diamond plate treads. Listen to the difference in these two videos below.

Hammer Drop - Diamond Plate Tread   

Hammer Drop - Quiet Grip™ Tread

 

Integrated nosings

Integrated photo luminescent nosings and contrast safety nosings can also be factory installed. These nosings work great with the Quiet Grip™ as either a commercial stair tread or industrial stair tread system. 

Commercial Quiet Grip™ with photoluminescent nosing
Industrial Quiet Grip™ with safety contrast nosing
stair tread with photoluminescent nosing contrast nosing stair tread

 

No temporary treads required

Unlike metal pan treads, the Quiet Grip™ base construction phase tread provides a solid metal surface along the entire length of the tread compliant with OSHA 1926.1052(b)(3) for temporary use during construction. No temporary treads required. 

 

No temporary protective coverings required

Unlike other alternative systems, Quiet Grip™ treads can be installed after construction, eliminating the need to install protective coverings for construction. The time it takes to install each Quiet Grip tread is less than the the time it would take to remove protective coverings and fill bolt holes with epoxy. 

 

Current standards for alternative egress stair treads

Other alternative tread systems for metal pan stairs provide some of the benefits above but have 1 or more disadvantages. The below chart outlines the cost-benefits of current alternative stair tread systems.

Tread System

Advantages

Disadvantages

 

Metal diamond plate stair tread

1. Eliminates concrete pouring in the field

2. Inexpensive and easy to install

3. Been in use for a long period

1. Durability depends on the coating applied over the metal diamond plate. Inferior coatings may wear off over time

2. Not a very slip resistant surface 

3. Very noisy to foot traffic

4. Not a commercially appealing aesthetic

diamond-tread-plate

 

Precast concrete stair treads

1. Eliminates concrete pouring in the field

2. Inexpensive

3. Been in use for long period

1. Not an efficient installation process. Requires knock-down stair systems, hauling  heavy concrete components up stairwells and individually fitting and bolting treads into stair stringers. 

2. Can be subject to damage and / or cracking during shipping and at jobsites.

 

precast-2

 

Abrasive epoxy coating over metal stair treads

1. Eliminates field pouring of concrete

2. Provides a non slip surface

 

1. Subject to damage during construction and requires bolt-on temporary protective coverings, which must have bolt holes filled in with epoxy.  

2. Field finishes cannot be applied over the abrasive epoxy. Finish is not commercially appealing. 

3. Very limited sound dampening

Fast grip

 

The Quiet Grip™ Tread system outperforms all of these other alternatives in performance, safety, durability, speed of installation and cost. 

 

Conclusion

Lapeyre Stair was founded on a culture of innovation, and we remain committed to continuously improving standards for our industry. Metal pan stairs have been around for decades but no longer meet the demands of the current construction environment. Our performance tread systems help improve safety and durability of egress stairs and save time, money and for everyone involved. 

 


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