As one would expect, there are a lot of regulations surrounding egress and stairwell signs. Signs are required for interior exit stairways that connect more than three stories. In general, monumental staircases do not require signage, although they can often benefit from a directional sign.
The 2012 International Building Code now mandates a tactile and Braille identifying sign inside the stairwell, so for each stair doorway, there are now typically three signs needed:
Stair identification sign in corridor. This is a tactile and Braille sign next to the door leading into the stairwell which provides stair identification. If there is more than one stairwell in your building, the stairs are usually given letter identifications to differentiate them from floors. A separate requirement calls for a sign identifying doors along egress paths. So, a typical message on this sign would be “EXIT STAIR A”.
Level identification within the stairwell. This is a tactile and Braille sign next to the door leading out of the stairwell and provides level identification. A typical message on this sign is “LEVEL 2”.
Stair Landing Identification. These are signs for use by emergency personnel and building occupants during an emergency. These signs are a minimum of 12 by 18 inches, and provide stair and level information, as well as indicate where and in which direction to find the emergency exit (since, in some instances, the way out requires a user to go up the stairs). This sign also indicates the range of floors served and the availability of roof access. It is located so as to be clearly visible with doors in the open or closed position, traveling both up and down the stairs. Often this is not adjacent to the level door, hence the need for the separate level identification sign mentioned above.
A good rule of thumb is that if one of the standard illuminated EXIT signs is present at a door, then that exit also requires a tactile and Braille translation.
One other stair related requirement that you may encounter is the need for photoluminescent signs within the stairwell. Codes will require that “high-rise” buildings include “glow-in-the-dark” stair landing signs under certain conditions. The need for these signs is dependent on the occupancy classification (A,B,E,I,M,R-1) – a typical application is for hotel towers. Whenever luminous egress path markings are required, a photoluminescent Stair Landing Identification sign is required as well.