Seven Methods To Top The Scale Of Interior Stairways

February 26, 2019 7:49 am by admin
Wallpapered staircase the inspired home
The architects were tasked with reconfiguring the layout of a seven bedroom 20th century house to create an open plan living kitchen and dining room
Seven Methods To Top The Scale Of Interior Stairways

Our photo illustrates construction of a low-slope stairway located in the “Jewish Quarter” in Girona, Spain. These steps are several hundred years old, are worn, and have a bit of a slope to them.

Watch out: be sure to measure the height difference (deck surface to ground surface) at a projected point along a horizontal line from the edge of the deck out to the location, in horizontal distance, of the front edge of the nose of the very first or lowest step of the stairway.

Watch out: too much variation between individual step riser heights is a trip hazard. Most codes allow up to 1/4″. I find that if we keep variation to 1/8″ in step riser heights nobody will notice, nor be uncomfortable.Now with 15 risers, if I make the individual tread depth (that’s the horizontal tread run distance) 11 inches, our stairway will have a run of 15 x 11 = 165″ in length.I’d check to be sure that we had proper head clearance for the stairwell and that a run of 165″ doesn’t run into a horizontal distance or space problem before framing the stairs

The Perfect Stair (in my opinion): rise r = 7″ run R = 11″ r+R = 18″ (perfect) 2r+R = 25″ (perfect) → Stair will be comfortable

If I attach the pre-made stringer from the deck to the slab, ensuring that the top of the deck to the next stair down is the same height as the rest, then the riser height from the slab to the first stair is greater than a 3/8′ variation from the rest of the riser heights by 1/8th of an inch (ie. it’s 1/2 inch shorter than the rest of the stairs –

What if situation allowed for keeping the maximum rise of 8 ¼” and we expanded the run to 10 1/2”? Then r+R would be 18 ¾”, acceptable, but 2r+R would be 27”, which is more than ideal. Very tall people may find stairs with those dimensions comfortable, but the vertically challenged among us would not. How about a minimum run of 9 ½” but keep the riser down at 7”? 2r+R would be 24 ½”, pretty good, but r+R is only 16 ½”, not enough, and the stair would feel diminutive.

Deck-Stair Layout 101 – Deck stair layout is simple, right? Probably right, unless it’s the first time you’ve tackled the task. With numerous “stair calculators” available, figuring rise and run dimensions is easy. Applying those dimensions is another matter. Watch this tutorial to see how to layout a basic set of deck stairs.

Low slope stair construction details are now at STAIR CONSTRUCTION, LOW ANGLE SLOPE

This topic moved to STAIR DESIGNS, UNEVEN TOP & BOTTOM LANDINGS

Twice the rise plus the run (2r+R) should be within an inch of 25”.

Reply: no stair step riser height variation greater than 0.375 inches is allowed

Watch out: at STAIR RISER SPECIFICATIONS we emphasize that stair tread risers must be uniform in height, varying by no more than 3/8″ from one step to another.

How to Adjust Pre-Fab or Existing Stairs to Fit Question: Using pre-fab stairs – Is there an exception to the riser height variation for the very first step of the staircase?

Definition of stairway rise: the total vertical distance that must be traveled in ascending the stairs between two levels.

Asymmetrical balance is more appropriate in design in these days. Balance is achieved with some dissimilar objects that have equal visual weight or eye attraction. Assymetrical balance is more casual and less contrived in feeling, but more difficult to achieve. Asymmetry suggests movement, and leads to more lively interiors.

The total stair run distance will allow you to mark or stake out the exact location of both the stair top first step and the stair bottom last step. Outdoors you will probably need top and bottom stair landings unless you’re entering and leaving the stairs from an existing sidewalk or ramp.

Interior design’s biggest enemy is boredom. A well-designed room always has, depending on the size of it, one or more focal points. A focal point must be dominant to draw attention and interesting enough to encourage the viewer to look further. A focal point thus must have a lasting impression but must also be an integral part of the decoration linked through scale, style, color or theme. A fireplace or a flat tv is the first example that most people think of when we talk about a room focal point.

Finally, contrast is fairly straightforward. Putting two elements in opposition to one another, such as black and white pillows on a sofa, is the hallmark of this design principle. Opposition can also be implied by contrasts in form, such as circles and squares used together. Contrast can be quite jarring, and is generally used to enliven a space. Be careful not to undo any hard work you’ve done using the other mechanisms by introducing too much contrast!

The concept is that a low rise stair usually has, just as you suggest, a tread that provides a “longer” walking surface. Up to a point. If we make the rise too short (under 4 inches of rise) it’s not a step at all, it’s a trip hazard.

Steep stair example: rise r = 12″ run R = 4″ r+R = 16″ (too low) 2r+R = 28″ (too high) → won’t be comfortable

This discussion has been moved to HALTING WALK STAIR DESIGNS for LOW SLOPES or SHORT STEP RISE

4.9″ / 13 risers = 0.37″ per riser that I need to add if I spread the adjustment exactly evenly over all 13 riser/steps.

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While generally it’s good to use a deeper stair tread (treads less than 11-inches in depth are not recommended), there may be some intermediate depths (or step run) such as around two feet that make for awkward walking and may risk stair falls. A better stair design may involve increasing the rise and lengthening one or more steps into a platform of 36″ or more of horizontal walking surface.

Bernie Campbalik who taught us carpentry, including stair building, used a rule of thumb that basically makes the run longer when the rise is shorter.

See HALTING WALK STAIR DESIGNS for LOW SLOPES or SHORT STEP RISE

There is no exception for individual stair steps, first, bottom, top, or other. A difference in riser height can be a serious trip hazard at any location on a stairway.

Where space limitations require that your stairs make a single turn or where your stairs must ascend a height greater than permitted for a single run of stairs you’ll need one or more stair platforms or intermediate landings.

We all have aspirations of being the top in our class or employee of the month. This month, you can get to the top of your home designing using one of (or more) eight unique ways to get you from first floor to third. While the staircase only gets due recognition from our feet, this structure of our home can become a part of the family too.

“Interior design is the process of shaping the experience of interior space, through the manipulation of spatial volume as well as surface treatment. Not to be confused with interior decoration, interior design draws on aspects of environmental psychology, architecture, and product design in addition to traditional decoration.

Or see ROOF SLOPE CALCULATIONS for a complete explanation of the mathematics of calculating stair or roof slope, angle, pitch, rise, run, etc. as well as examples of using trigonometric functions such as tangent

  • STAIR CALCULATIONS by DIRECT LAYOUT on STRINGER
  • STAIR CONSTRUCTION RULES of THUMB
  • STAIR RISE CALCULATION: NUMBER of RISERS
  • MEASURE STAIRWAY DIRECTLY DURING CONSTRUCTION
  • ADJUST FACTORY-BUILT STAIR to FIT the SITE
  • MEASURE STAIRWAY ACTUAL RUN & RISE
  • STAIR RUN CALCULATION: NUMBER STEPS
  • STAIR PLATFORMS / LANDINGS

Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair

Highly inspirational spiral staircase. Do you know where this is? Hint: in Rome!

In my days as a carpenter, I learned two different techniques for determining a safe and comfortable rise and run. Why not just use the code maximum/minimum? Because the rise almost always needs to be adjusted down from the code maximum, in order to fit the building’s floor to floor height, and most people find stairs more comfortable at lower slopes. But you need to avoid the issue I found on my first stair—as the rise goes down, the run needs to go up correspondingly, or vice versa.

Lay Out Accurate Stair Stringers With This Custom Tool – If you’re framing a staircase, you could hope that the stair gauges on your framing square bear against the edge of a nice straight board, but they might not—in that case there’s a better way. Watch this video to learn how to lay out accurate stair stringers.

For an easy way to measure the stair rise and run outdoors when the surface being climbed or descended (before your stairs are built) is uneven, see the sketch given just below

The approach of placing a stringer along the desired stair slope, measuring and marking layout immediately on the stringer works acceptably if terrain shape permits and if you are careful with stair layout.

IRC code limit stair:rise r ≤ 7 3/4″run R ≥ 10″r+R = 17 3/4″ (good)2r+R = 25 1/2″ (within range)→ stair will be comfortable

When this stairway is maintained to perfection it can be a graceful architectural addition to your home and often is the best choice when taking your home character into consideration.

If you can split the adjustment between the top and bottom stair risers by trimming the stringer top and bottom, you’ll have just 1/4″ or 0.25″ of riser height variation (one at stair top and one at stair bottom) – thus minimizing the trip hazard risk of the uneven risers and the variation will be within standards.

You can use the 6-8-10 or 3-4-5 rule to square up any structure, as shown in our little deck addition photo.

As I read your note, you have just a 1/2″ error to make up between the total elevation difference between the deck surface and the ground surface if you use a pre-fabricated stair way.

Stairs built over both an uneven hillside & uneven bottom or top landing

Since an 8-inch step riser height is a bit too high for safe comfortable stairway use anyway, instead of trying a still taller step to calculate the number of steps needed, I tried smaller stair rises.

Steep stair example: rise r = 12″ run R = 4″ r+R = 16″ (too low) 2r+R = 28″ (too high) → won’t be comfortable

When we live in a wholesale environment and Costco has supersized their carts to accommodate this life style the shopping experience can be very enjoyable, but the unloading from trunk to pantry, not so. Whether bar framed, glass encased or open the elevator will make those shopping trips with the toddler triplets as easy as the debit card swipe.

Here is how you can measure the actual stair rise and run, followed by how to calculate the same data.

Watch out: be sure that your boards are at right angles to one another and that the vertical and horizontal boards are plumb and level. Otherwise your measurements will be wrong.

Or see CALCULATE STAIR TREAD DEPTH or RISER HEIGHT from STAIR SLOPE in DEGREES

We explain how total elevation change between two levels or floors (rise) and stair length (run) are used to calculate the right measurements when building indoor or exterior stairs to fit the building or the terrain.

We will either increase the number of steps by 1, shortening the stair rise, or decrease the number of steps by one, lifting the stair rise.

Details about how to use the 6-8-10 rule to assure two framing members are at right angles to one another are at

If your total rise is a multiple of 7 you’re home free. That’s unlikely. So now what?

So which one is faster? A traditional staircase or slide? I know how I’ll go down!

I will increase my standard step riser height of 7″ by 4.9 (inches to gain) / 13 risers.

But measuring the rise and run between two elevations that are not parallel and not flat, such as for an exterior stairway built over sloping ground can be more difficult (you cannot measure the vertical distance directly as we did above). If you’re not careful you will make a measurement error, leading to miscalculations among total rise, run, and step and riser dimensions.

Mathematical Approach to Building Stairs Spanning Uneven Ground

Or I could round that figure to 0.4″ giving me a 13-steps x (0.4 – 0.37) or a 0.39″ error I have to make up over several treads.

Quoting from the article text above on stair and step height regularity and the amount of variation in stair step riser height that is allowed (presumably to avoid a trip hazard)

If you need a greater adjustment in the stair height between the ground surface and the deck surface in order to avoid having to re-cut a whole new pair of stair stringers, sometimes that can be accommodated by changing the height of the surface of the concrete or other masonry platform that many building departments and local codes require be placed as a landing at the bottom of the stairs.

Continue reading at STAIR DIMENSIONS, WIDTH, HEIGHT or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to STAIRS RAILINGS LANDINGS RAMPS

Like a trip on Aladdin’s magic carpet, the floating staircase delivers an interesting facet to any home and can lend brilliance to your simple, Zen or modern vibe. It’s just another testimony that there are many ways to get to the top and just as many if not more to get down. May your journey in life be one of falling upwards to success! (courtesy of Cococozy)

  • CALCULATE TOTAL STEPS
  • CALCULATE STEP TREAD DEPTH

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At the end of this article you’ll be able to recognize and use the basic interior design principles used by every interior designer to create a great design, and who knows maybe you’ll also save some money, or start a new career ! Now let’s begin with the beginning, and undestand what interior design is …

I would build these stairs using eleven steps each having a 6.8″ riser. I could try to make my first or last step 0.01″ taller as that variation is much less than the allowable 3/8″, but frankly you’ll never sense or feel that 1/100th of an inch accuracy. Forget it.

Laying Out Basic Stair Stringers – To ensure level tread cuts and plumb riser cuts on stair stringers, it’s crucial to get the layout right.

Calculate the number of step risers: divide the total rise by a reasonable starting number for step riser height. We use 7 inches.

That’s because the maximum allowable variation in riser height is 3/8″ or 0.375″ – less than my 0.39″ error.

Definition of stairway rise: the rise of a stairway is the total vertical height of a stairway between the walking surface just before the first stairway tread or step up and the beginning of the horizontal walking surface reached at the top of the stairs.

Try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

75″ total height / 11 stair risers = 6.81″ risers individual stair riser height – this is an acceptable step riser height.

Stunning home decor with modern wooden stairs with glass panel balustrade

IRC code limit stair: rise r = 7 3/4″ run R = 10″ r+R = 17 3/4″ (good) 2r+R = 25 1/2″ (within range) → stair will be comfortable

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Color – Colors have a definite impact on the atmosphere that you want to create when doing interior design. A more detalied post about how colors affect our moods you can find here.

If we would speak about music we would describe rhytmas the beat of pulse of the music. In interior design, rhythm is all about visual pattern repetition. Rhythm is defined as continuity, recurrence or organized movement. To achieve these themes in a design, you need to think about repetition, progression, transition and contrast. Using these mechanisms will impart a sense of movement to your space, leading the eye from one design element to another.

Radial symmetry is when all the elements of a design are arrayed around a center point. A spiral staircase is also an excellent example of radial balance. Though not often employed in interiors, it can provide an interesting counterpoint if used appropriately.

Transition is a little harder to define. Unlike repetition or progression, transition tends to be a smoother flow, where the eye naturally glides from one area to another. The most common transition is the use of a curved line to gently lead the eye, such as an arched doorway or winding path.

Mike Guertin’s ProHOME adjusted dimensions:rise r = 8″run R = 9 1/4″r+R = 17 1/4″ (good)2r+R = 25 1/4″” (almost perfect)→ stairs will be comfortable

  • UBC 1003.3.4.3
  • ADA 4.8.2
  • BOCA 1016.3
  • IBC 1010.2

We moved this subject to STAIR RISE & RUN GEOMETRY & CALCULATIONS

For anyone not familiar with the terms, “Rise” refers to the vertical distance from the top of one tread to the top of the next tread. It also happens to be the dimension of one of the cuts on the rough stringer. The “Run,” however, seems to cause some confusion. It’s the horizontal distance from the face of one riser to the face of the next riser, or from nosing to nosing, and the other stringer cut—it’s NOT the size of the tread itself, which includes a leading edge overhang of ¾” to 1 ¼” (according to the IRC for most residential stairs).

This topic moved to STAIR CONSTRUCTION, SPECIFIC ANGLE or SLOPE

In a short sentence for those who just scan this article balance can be described as the equal distribution of visual weight in a room. There are three styles of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial.

Generally we solve the problem of low slope long run stairways by using all platforms – steps that are 36″ in length or more in the direction of run of the stairs, or by using a combination of normally sized stair treads (say 11″ deep treads with a 6″ or 7″ rise) along with intermediate stair platforms.

75″ total height / 10 stair risers = 7.5″ risers individual stair riser height – this riser is acceptable in some jurisdictions and not others.

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The loft is a space so many of us would love to call our home. The open concept floor plan is romanticized in our minds and movies, but have you ever seen a real loft? These cramped afterthoughts above the main floor that you can’t even stand up in, take a nearly vertically straight ladder to get above. Now, the ladder is romantic. It can be rustic, industrial, shabby chic, just make it yours and make it a part of your rooms culture using an array of materials like rope, metal and wood.

  • UL-410 (similar to ASTM D-21)
  • ASTM D-21, and ASTM D2047 
  • ANSI A1264.2
  • ANSI B101
  • OSHA – (Dept of Labor CFR 1910.22 does not specify COF and pertains to workplaces) but recognizes the need for a “qualified person” to evaluate walkway slipperiness
  • NSFI 101-B  (National Floor Safety Institute)
  • NSFI Walkway Auditing Guideline (WAG) Ref. 101-A& 101-B (may appear as ANSI B101.0) sets rules for measuring walkway slip resist
  • ADA (relies on the ANSI and ASTM standards) 

Finally, we also explain how to adjust factory-built or pre-fab stairs to the exact stair rise dimension in your installation. Page top stair dimension sketch courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.

That will avoid any error in calculating total stairway height due to any slope in the actual ground surface.

I chose a sequence of numbers (7.5″, 7.25″, 7.125″) dividing each of these into the total rise we need (108″) to see how close to an exact number of steps we could achieve.I noticed that if I set our riser height to 7.125″ (about 7 1/8″) we will use an even number of risers (15). Actually it’s 15.1 but once we get our riser height close to exact we can make small adjustments of say 1/8″ or less in the actual riser height for individual steps to make the stairway total rise come out exactly right.

The direct stairway layout marking along the stair stringer is easy if we are building interior stairs between floors (sketch at left) or exterior stairs down a concave slope (sketch below left) but this approach won’t handle a convex slope or concave (below right) unless we first excavate the hillside or raise the entire stair design and assembly to span above the high point on the slope.

Details of methods for accurate stairway rise & run measurement are provided for tough cases such as building a stair over steep slopes and irregular surfaces.

Here’s an inspiring idea for a stylish fire escape staircase. What do you think?

Is there an exception to the riser height variation for the very first step of the staircase? Let me attempt to clarify the question.

For direct measurement of a total stairway run and rise outdoors over uneven ground, use straight lumber of sufficient length as shown in our next sketch below.

The Level Architech house in Nakameguro that made headlines can be your headline too. SLIDES! At the request of three Japanese children, their home became the proud owner of something we are all missing; the novelty of wholesome fun free of all inhibitions. Of course the playground rules apply here as well. No walking UP the slide, so whether it’s hidden or traditional you are going to have a secondary method of transportation from one floor to the next. So why not embrace the Twist and have the slide wrap around the stairs. Two birds with almost one stone!

And of course long stair runs due to a very tall total rise (more than 12 feet) also is likely to require an intermediate stair platform as well.

When doing interior design it is necessary to think of the house as a totality; a series of spaces linked together by halls and stairways. It is therefore appropriate that a common style and theme runs throughout. This is not to say that all interior design elements should be the same but they should work together and complement each other to strengthen the whole composition. A way to create this theme or storyline is with the well considered use of color. Color schemes in general are a great way to unify a collection of spaces. For example, you might pick three or four colors and use them in varying shades thoughout the house.

  • Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, Hardcover: 320 pages, available from Amazon.com and also Wiley.com. See our book review of this publication.
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  • Eric Galow, Galow Homes, Lagrangeville, NY. Mr. Galow can be reached by email: [email protected] or by telephone: 914-474-6613. Mr. Galow specializes in residential construction including both new homes and repairs, renovations, and additions.
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  • [36] “Coefficients of Friction for Ice”, The Physics Factbook™, Glenn Elert, Ed., retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2004/GennaAbleman.shtml
  • [39] “How Slippery Is It”, retrieved 8/29/12, original source http://www.icebike.org/Articles/howslippery.htm
  • [17] Steps and Stairways, Cleo Baldon & Ib Melchior, Rizzoli, 1989.
  • [21] Building Stairs, by pros for pros, Andy Engel
  • [19] Common Sense Stairbuilding and Handrailing, Fred T. Hodgson
  • [9] Falls and Related Injuries: Slips, Trips, Missteps, and Their Consequences, Lawyers & Judges Publishing, (June 2002), ISBN-10: 0913875430 ISBN-13: 978-0913875438 “Falls in the home and public places are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States, but are overlooked in most literature. This book is unique in that it is entirely devoted to falls. Of use to primary care physicians, nurses, insurance adjusters, architects, writers of building codes, attorneys, or anyone who cares for the elderly, this book will tell you how, why, and when people will likely fall, what most likely will be injured, and how such injuries come about. “
  • [35] Jason R. Stokes, Lubica Macakova, Agnieszka Chojnicka-Paszun, Cornelis G. de Kruif, and Harmen H. J. de Jongh, “Lubrication, Adsorption, and Rheology of Aqueous Polysaccharide Solutions, Langmuir 2011 27 (7), 3474-3484

This explanation is now found at STAIR DESIGNS for UNEVEN / SLOPED SURFACES

Framing a Staircase – Regardless of the method you choose, every set of stairs requires the same basic approach to get from one floor to another safely, comfortably, and legally. In this photo slideshow, Fine Homebuilding author John Spier takes you through the steps of framing a staircase.

I might not want 14 steps – perhaps there’s not enough horizontal run space. I could build a 13 riser stair.

Step riser height uniformity ( Question: how do I calculate the stair run length for these measurements?

Stair Building Calculations: simple arithmetic for safe stair designs to fit any situation

Here’s a good example of a stair I don’t think anyone would mistake for being comfortable. I designed and built it many years ago, but recall using a stepladder for dimensional inspiration. Aside from the treads being too small for safety, the rise would have been about 12” and the run about 4”. The r+R, then, was 16” (too low) and 2r+R was 28” (too high). Fortunately, the stair is used primarily for storage.

Scale and Proportion – These two design principles go hand in hand, since both relate to size and shape. Proportion has to do with the ratio of one design element to another, or one element to the whole. Scale concerns itself with the size of one object compared to another.

  • STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATION FAQs-2
  • STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATION FAQs
  • STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATIONS STAIR CONSTRUCTION RULES of THUMB MEASURE STAIRWAY ACTUAL RUN & RISE MEASURE STAIRWAY DIRECTLY DURING CONSTRUCTION STAIR CALCULATIONS by DIRECT LAYOUT on STRINGER STAIR RUN CALCULATION: NUMBER STEPS STAIR RISE CALCULATION: NUMBER of RISERS STAIR PLATFORMS / LANDINGS ADJUST FACTORY-BUILT STAIR to FIT the SITE
  • 7″ riser & 11″ tread depth is a starting target to use when calculating actual stair run and number of steps needed
  • RAILING CODES & SPECIFICATIONS gives the requirements for handrails and guardrails
  • 1 Tread depth in inches + 1 Riser height in inches = 17″ to 18″
  • Stair slope or angle of about 37° which equals approximately a 75% slope The stair Angle or Slope should be between 30° and 50°, ideally around 37°I prefer a 33° stair that is approximately a 66% slope as is given by a 7/11 step rise/run ratio.See details at STAIR ANGLE & SLOPE
  • FRAMING SQUARE UP 6-8-10 RULE given below helps square up stairs and stair openings
  • STAIR DIMENSIONS, WIDTH, HEIGHT gives details of stair width, headroom, etc.
  • STAIR CONSTRUCTION IDEAL DIMENSIONS gives additional stair building design starting point dimensions for stair or step rise, run, slope.

An interior designer is a person who is considered a professional in the field of interior design or one who designs interiors as part of their job. Interior design is a creative practice that analyzes programmatic information, establishes a conceptual direction, refines the design direction, and produces graphic communication and construction documents. In some jurisdictions, interior designers must be licensed to practice.” – Source :Wikipedia

I could thus split the 0.39 over two treads with a 0.19″ or about 2/10″ adjustment on each of two treads. That is within acceptable uniformity limits.

2 Rules for Comfortable Stairs As the rise goes down, the run needs to go up correspondingly, or vice versa.

Or see STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATION FAQs-2 – questions and answers recently posted at the end of this article.

  • STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATION FAQs-2
  • STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATION FAQs
  • STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATIONS LOW ANGLE or SHORT STEP RISE STAIR DESIGN STAIRWAY RULES of THUMB MEASURE STAIRWAY ACTUAL RUN & RISE MEASURE STAIRWAY DIRECTLY DURING CONSTRUCTION STAIR CALCULATIONS by DIRECT LAYOUT on STRINGER STAIR DESIGNS for UNEVEN / SLOPED SURFACES STAIR DESIGNS, UNEVEN TOP & BOTTOM LANDINGS STAIR RISE & RUN GEOMETRY & CALCULATIONS CALCULATE TOTAL NUMBER OF STAIR STEPS & RISERS CALCULATE TOTAL STEPS CALCULATE STEP TREAD DEPTH ADD STAIR PLATFORMS or LANDINGS ADJUST FACTORY-BUILT STAIR to FIT the SITE

Divide the rise total by step riser height: 75/7 = 10.71 risers. But we can’t have “part of a step” – don’t try that or everyone will fall down the stairs.

STAIR RISE & RUN CALCULATIONS at InspectApedia.com – online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

What many stair builders do is simply lay a (hopefully straight) stair stringer between the two elevations, measure the actual rise and run distances, and lay-out the stair dimensions on the fly by measuring and marking along the side surface of the stringer.

Watch out: don’t just divide the horizontal run by your preferred tread depth (say 11″) – instead you must calculate the number of steps in your stairway so as to assure that all of the steps have a uniform rise.

On the first stairs I built, I sized them for a 1×8 riser and a 2×8 tread. The result was a disastrously uncomfortable stair, with treads too short for adult feet.  Although the rise itself wasn’t terrible, something about using it felt very cramped, and I set out to find what went into a safe, comfortable stair. Since then, I’ve built and/or designed many stairs, and every time I think about the lessons I learned on that first one.

0.7-fractional riser x 7-inches per riser = 4.9 inches to be gained.

Stair Rise & Run Calculations Stair Building Calculations & Designs Stairbuilding rise, run, slope, angle & step calculations

I actually need to remove a half inch from the bottom most stair of the stringer to fit). If this is a violation of code, than it means I need to cut my own customer stringer. Just verifying. Any feedback is appreciated. – Dan

As a starting point in stair and step design and build you can calculate the step rise & run for a stairway with these rules of thumb.

How to Measure & Layout a Stair Rise & Run over Uneven Ground

And relevant to your question is the “depth” or run of each step in the direction of travel.

Definition of stairway run: the run of a stairway is the total horizontal distance traveled by a walker using the stairs, from the face of first riser to the face last riser.

  • Decks and Porches, the JLC Guide to, Best Practices for Outdoor Spaces, Steve Bliss (Editor), The Journal of Light Construction, Williston VT, 2010 ISBN 10: 1-928580-42-4, ISBN 13: 978-1-928580-42-3, available from Amazon.com
  • Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, Hardcover: 320 pages, available from Amazon.com and also Wiley.com. See our book review of this publication.
  • Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. Also see our Book Reviews – InspectAPedia.

Another important element of interior design where it is necessary to take infinite pains is details. Everything from the trimming on the lamp shade, the color of the piping on the scatter cushion, to the light switches and cupboard handles need attention. Unlike color people find details boring. As a result it gets neglected and skimmed over or generally left out. As color expresses the whole spirit and life of a scheme; details are just as an important underpinning of interior design. Details should not be obvious but they should be right, enhancing the overall feel of a room.

In the United States stair specifications for climbable steps are discussed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, section 4.9, Stairs, from which we excerpt below.

Symmetrical balance is usually found in traditional interiors. Symmetrical balance is characterized by the same objects repeated in the same positions on either side of a vertical axis, for example you might remember old rooms where on each side of a room is an exact mirror of the other. This symmetry also reflects the human form, so we are inately comfortable in a balanced setting.

Measure the total stair rise. Indoors this is easy: Just make the measurements shown in our sketch above, measuring “Rise” – the vertical distance of the stairway as shown.

For details of common building code specifications for stair landing dimensions and step riser and tread dimensions

OSHA estimates that there are 24,882 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. Nearly half of these injuries are serious enough to require time off the job–11,570 lost workday injuries and 13,312 non-lost workday injuries occur annually due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. These data demonstrate that work on and around ladders and stairways is hazardous. More importantly, they show that compliance with OSHA’s requirements for the safe use of ladders and stairways could have prevented many of these injuries. -osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/stairlad.html

“Stair risers of uneven height – no variation greater than 0.375 inches is allowed”

Our illustration above shows an example rise and run for a simple uniform-tread depth and riser height stairway. It’s easy to measure the horizontal run and vertical rise for a stairway built between two parallel and flat surfaces – such as inside a building between two floors.

Why do we complain about space conservancy when we have such a simple solution of getting from Point A to Point B? Not only that but recently the controversial exercising routine of Pole Dancing has become a fun way of incorporating dance and shedding pounds. This pole will definitely tone and slim both you and your home.

Repetition is the use of the same element more than once throughout a space. You can repeat a pattern, color, texture, line, or any other element, or even more than one element.

You have probably had the experience of using stairs, often in an institutional setting, that felt ridiculously shallow, possibly even requiring stutter steps, or inducing the strong desire to take two steps at once. A not-too-extreme example of that would be something like a 4” rise and a 14” run. That would give an r+R of 18”, right on the money for stride length. But 2r+R is only 22”, pretty far from 25”, and results in the stairs feeling like you need to take them two at a time, or that you are shuffling up them one step at a time.

I relied on the 18” rule for several years, until I met another carpenter who insisted that a better measure was that twice the rise plus (2r+R) the run should be 25 inches. After trying to decide which rule really was better, I settled on the idea of using both. If a stair meets both numbers, it will be comfortable. If it meets only one of the numbers, it will be less comfortable. If it meets neither number, it will not be comfortable.

Shallow stair example: rise r = 4″ run R = 14″ r+R = 18″ (perfect) 2r+R = 22″ (too low) → won’t be comfortable

  • The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop’s knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones
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Definition of stair run or stairway run: the total horizontal distance that must be traveled in ascending the stairs between two levels.

Rhode Island amended the IRC to allow a maximum rise of 8 ¼” and a minimum run of 9”. With an r+R of 17 ¼” and a 2r+R of 25 ½”, both numbers are close enough to the ideal to be comfortable for most people. On the ProHOME, Mike Guertin used Rhode Island’s amendment to his advantage. I had designed the stairs with a 7 7/16” rise and 10” run (r+R≈17.5”, 2r+R≈25”, good numbers). Mike was able to eliminate a tread and riser and use the headroom gained to create more floor space and an interesting nook in one of the bedrooms, using a rise of 8” and a run of 9 ¼”, for r+R of 17 ¼” and 2r+R of 25 ¼”, well within the comfort zone.

If my riser calculation came up with a larger fractional step or riser I’d divide that amount by the number of risers to make an adjustment so that my step risers don’t vary by more than 3/8″.

Above we suggested by sketch how you can measure the stair rise over uneven ground. Again it’s critical that your measurement boards are plumb and level and square.

Shallow stair example:rise r = 4″run R = 14″r+R = 18″ (perfect)2r+R = 22″ (too low)→ won’t be comfortable

My first stair had a 2r+R of about 23. The IRC limit gives a 2r+R of 25 ½”. My ideal stair has a 7” rise and an 11” run. I usually end up having to squeeze the stair for one reason or another, but on the rare occasions I can include a 7-11 stair, it ends up being very comfortable. I call it a lazy stair, because it seems to take no effort to use (but you still feel like you’re getting somewhere). Its r+R is 18” and its 2r+R is 25”, right where they should be.

Beautiful staircase design with dramatic wrought-iron railings

Watch out: make these stair “steps” long enough to avoid a halting-walk stair fall hazard.

The IRC (International Residential Code) calls for a maximum rise (“r”) of 7 ¾” and a minimum run (“R”) of at least 10”. They use the term “tread” instead of “run” but I think that’s the cause of some confusion, so I’ll use the standard term “run.”

Now that you have an idea about interior design, we can move forward and learn something really useful, the principles of interior design. Let’s begin !

If you are laying out the blueprints of your first home, or are house hunting, there are so many duck tape-less stairways that you can add to your dream list and how they can be one more way of expressing your tastes sans duck tap:

This article includes example stair building calculations and warns about some “in between” stair tread sizes that may be a trip/fall hazard. We also explain now to include landings and platforms in stair design calculations.

What is the run length needed for a rise of 108″ using an 11″ tread depth and 8″ step rise – A.K. Debbie 11/24/2012

We can and often do use this basic right triangle function a2 =b2 +c2 in building construction to be sure that we are placing all four sides at right angles to one another and/or to an existing structure by using the 6-8-10 rule to make sure, for example, that a stairway opening or a floor or deck is square or at right angles to a building wall.

Greater variations in riser height are serious trip and fall hazards.

Simply extend a measuring tape down through the stairway opening in the upper floor and measure the distance between the surface of the upper floor or level and the surface of the lower floor or level. That will be the total rise.

How to Make Minor Adjustments to fit a factory-built stair to the specific overall stair rise

For laying out stairs whose top and bottom landings are themselves not level surfaces

Then we spread the adjustment evenly over all of the stairs,

  • CALCULATE TOTAL NUMBER OF STAIR STEPS & RISERS CALCULATE TOTAL STEPS CALCULATE STEP TREAD DEPTH
  • ADD STAIR PLATFORMS or LANDINGS
  • ADJUST FACTORY-BUILT STAIR to FIT the SITE
  • MEASURE STAIRWAY ACTUAL RUN & RISE MEASURE STAIRWAY DIRECTLY DURING CONSTRUCTION STAIR CALCULATIONS by DIRECT LAYOUT on STRINGER STAIR DESIGNS for UNEVEN / SLOPED SURFACES STAIR DESIGNS, UNEVEN TOP & BOTTOM LANDINGS STAIR RISE & RUN GEOMETRY & CALCULATIONS
  • STAIRWAY RULES of THUMB
  • LOW ANGLE or SHORT STEP RISE STAIR DESIGN

Measure the total stair run. Indoors this is easy: Just make the measurement shown in our sketch above, measuring “Run” of the stairway as shown.

For a different and interesting use of triangles and plane geometry to convert stair slope in degrees to tread depth and riser heightsee CALCULATE STAIR TREAD DEPTH OR RISER HEIGHT FROM STAIRWAY SLOPE IN DEGREES.

Detailed Rules for Step Height, Step Tread Dimensions, & Platforms in a Stairway

In our simple three tread four-riser stair sketch shown here you see the total rise is from lower walking surface to upper walking surface. Indoors that’s floor to floor. Outdoors that’s landing to landing.

At STAIR RISER SPECIFICATIONS you will find complete details about stair riser specifications and codes, including the following excerpts:

Progression is taking an element and increasing or decreasing one or more of its qualities. The most obvious implementation of this would be a gradation by size. A cluster of candles of varying sizes on a simple tray creates interest because of the natural progression shown. You can also achieve progression via color, such as in a monochromatic color scheme where each element is a slightly different shade of the same hue.

I’ve seen several rules such as the sum of one tread and one riser should always be equal or greater than 17; or two treads plus one riser should add up to around 28 or 29.

I would calculate both numbers – that’s going to be 11 risers or just 10 risers – and choose the one that keeps my step rise closest to a comfortable height.

Mike Guertin’s ProHOME adjusted dimensions: rise r = 8″ run R = 9 1/4″ r+R = 17 1/4″ (good) 2r+R = 25 1/4″” (almost perfect) → stairs will be comfortable

What if the Total Rise is Not Evenly Divisible by my Step Height?

Rule one says that rise plus run (r+R) should equal 18 inches. Why? That’s what most people find to be a comfortable stride on most stairs. You can cheat a bit up or down, but below 17” and more than 19” will result in steps that require strides either too big or too small for most people. On my first stair, r+R was roughly 15 inches—way too far from 18” to be comfortable or safe. The IRC limit gives an r+R of 17 ¾”—pretty darn close to 18.

  • STAIR CALCULATIONS by DIRECT LAYOUT on STRINGER
  • STAIR DESIGNS for UNEVEN / SLOPED SURFACES
  • STAIR RISE & RUN GEOMETRY & CALCULATIONS
  • STAIR DESIGNS, UNEVEN TOP & BOTTOM LANDINGS
  • MEASURE STAIRWAY DIRECTLY DURING CONSTRUCTION

If you don’t have a natural focal point in your space, such as a fireplace for example, you can create one by highlighting a particular piece of furniture, artwork, or by simply painting a contrasting color in one area. Try to maintain balance, though, so that the focal point doesn’t hog all of the attention.

Here using simple arithmetic we explain how to make stair design calculations: number of steps, step riser height, total stair height or rise, total stair length or run.

The Perfect Stair (in my opinion):rise r = 7″run R = 11″r+R = 18″ (perfect)2r+R = 25″ (perfect)→ Stair will be comfortable

  • TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer’s model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto – Carson Dunlop Weldon & AssociatesSpecial Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page “Promo/Redemption” space.
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The rise plus the run (r+R) should be within an inch of 18”.

Fine Homebuilding Forums Ask questions, offer advice, and share your work

Watch out: don’t forget to re-check check the riser height and actual number of steps against the horizontal run space to be sure your stair fits in the opening or space allotted.

Floating staircase blend perfectly with the modern living room design

Molasseskat commented with a good idea; here is a graph that shows what I consider the “sweet spot” for stair design. I included icons for each of the stairs described in this article:

Debbie,It’s important to get comfortable with the basic math in stair calculations, and it’s not too hard.If we have to climb up 108″ in height and we are going to make each step 8″ tall (riser height is 8″) we just divide 108 / 8 = 13.5 – so we’d need 13 1/2 steps – which is not quite acceptable as we need to end with an even number of steps. So I would adjust the rise until the numbers came out more nicely.

We describe how to translate the stair rise and run into a specific number of stair treads and risers that will be uniform and of proper (safe) dimension. We also describe how to design and build low-slope or low angle stairways with special consideration for tread and landing dimensions to avoid halting-walk stairs and other trip hazards.

And if your stair is indoors passing up through a cut-out opening in the floor above or outdoors passing through a multi-level deck or similar structure you will want to double check the headroom for your stairway too.

I’ve watched many Extreme Makeover Home Edition episodes to see how stairs can sometimes be more of a hindrance than help. Sometimes our lives change and we accept what others term a disability as part of who we are. But when faced with obstacles impossible for us to surpass, then and only then do we become disabled. Having a ramp will not only be practical but a great gesture of compassion and understanding towards your loved ones.

I have a deck (exterior porch) for which the distance from the top of the deck to the slab which forms the footing for the set of stairs is just shy of the 5 steps within a pre-fabricated 5 step stair stringer which can be purchased at a Home Depot or Lowes, for example.

  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Public Law 101-336. 7/26/90 is very often cited by other sources for good design of stairs and ramps etc. even where disabled individuals are not the design target.
  • ASTM F 1637, Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces, (Similar to the above standard
  • ANSI A117.4 Accessible and Usable buildings and Facilities (earlier version was incorporated into the ADA)

How to Calculate the Stairway Rise & Number of Steps / Risers – Vertical Travel

This discussion has been relocated to ADA STAIR & RAIL SPECIFICATIONS

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

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