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How to measure and build stairs

Updated on September 22, 2011

How to measure and build a stairway

lumber stairway
lumber stairway | Source

Planning a stairway

Stair construction isn't as challenging as most people think it is. The secret is to have the right formula to help calculate the rise and distance and divide it into each stair so that all the steps are the same height.

This formula works on all types of stairs whether the stairs are inside the home or outside on a deck.

Parts of a stair


Basic stairs

The basic parts of a stairway consist of the stringer, the riser and the tread. The stringer is usually a 2x12 free of knots. This is important.

The tread measurement is common in most homes. It is around 10-inches.

The riser measurement depends on the height from the first floor to the second floor.

measuring stairs

Measuring stair rise

Measure from the bottom floor to the top floor including the floor joists and sub floor. This measurement helps us figure out how how high to make the risers.

The best way to find the exact riser height is to divide the total rise measurement by 7. Let's say that the distance from the first floor to the second floor which includes the thickness of the second floor is 9 feet or 108 inches.

108 divided by 7 equals 15.428. This number tells you that 15 risers will be used in the staircase. Now divide 108 by 15 and you get just about 7 3/16 inches or the perfect height each riser has to be.

The number of stair treads will be one less than the number of risers, so to calculate the total run or length of the stairway, you will multiply 10 by 14 and that number shows you that the stairway will be 140 inches long.

After you find the riser measurement, you will need to measure and mark the stringer. A carpenter's square is perfect for this measurement. You will then cut out the stair treads and risers with a saw.

The stringer can be attached to the upper floor with floor joist hangers. Once that is done you can put the treads on. You can buy tread plates at most lumber stores that are made for stairs.

Stair landing

Stairs with landing
Stairs with landing | Source


When you build stairs with a landing, you will need to calculate both sets of stairs the same way using the formula.

Building stairs with landing



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      alejandro emingan 3 years ago

      very good design stairs , and good looking interior, it encourage me to do same stairs with advance knowledge.