Building A Staircase

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Building A Staircase

There are three main components in a typical staircase: stringers, treads and risers. Stringers, typically cut from 2 x 12s, are the sloped boards that support the other components and carry the weight of people walking on the stairs. They’re typically spaced 16 in. on center. When determining the staircase width, remember that wider is better. “Wide staircases are more comfortable and safer to walk on,” says remodeling contractor Paul Mantoni, of Exteriors Plus in Terryville, Conn. “I seldom build one less than 4 ft. wide, and prefer them a bit wider.”

Building A Staircase

You can use that information to find the total run of the staircase–or how much horizontal distance it will cover as it climbs. Multiply the number of steps by the run, or horizontal depth, of each step. The optimum run of each step is no less than 10 in., which is enough space to accept two 2 x 6 treads. In our example, the staircase has eight steps, so the total run is 80 in.

Building A Staircase

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Photo: buildmyowncabin.com Want to know how to build stairs? In many ways, the task of laying out a staircase resembles that of rafter layout. The carpenter’s square is essential; the rise/run ratio, too, comes into play, as it’s applied to the risers and the treads, the boards on the face and top surface of the stairs. Determining the Rise The vertical distance between the floors to be linked by the stair­case is the principal deter­minant of the riser and tread dimensions. You divide the height by 7 inches; if, say, the floor-to-floor distance is 8 feet, 10 inches (or 106 in­ches), then you’ll need 15 treads (106 divided by 7 equals 15.14). Next, you divide the height by the number of treads (15 into 106), producing the exact tread height (7.06 inches). Determining the Run Now come the formulas. The Rise plus the Run should equal ap­proximately 17.5 inches. (Some designers prefer the formula Two Rise plus the Run should equal between 24 and 25 inches, but whichever formula you use, your staircase should probably have steps 7 inches or so high and treads 10 in­ches or so deep.) In our ex­ample, 17.5 minus 7 1/16 produces a tread width of 10 7/16 inches or, to use the al­ternative formula, we would have a width of between 9 7/8 inches and 10 7/8 inches. Now that you know the rise and run, laying out the car­riage (the side boards that sup­port the risers and treads) for the stairs is not unlike rafter layout. Again, the square is positioned on the board, with the blade and tongue calibra­tions aligned so that the rise and run measurements are at the edge of the carriage. Then you work up the carriage, repeating the process, moving and marking.

Building A Staircase

It doesn’t matter what type of staircase you are building, straight, L shaped with a landing, curved, complete turn around 180 degree, or winders. You must determine the overall rise and run, then divide it into comfortable increments.

Building A Staircase

There is one wrinkle in the math, however: If you are working with a tall deck, it’s a good idea to break up the staircase with intermediate landings. “As a practical matter you’re limited to about 14 steps because that’s the most you can cut from a 16-ft.-long 2 x 12,” says Andy Engel, author of Building Stairs (Taunton), “but I prefer adding a landing after every seven or eight risers.”

Building A Staircase

Stairs must satisfy strict building codes meant to ensure safety and climbing comfort. We’re so used to uniform, professionally built staircases that the slightest discrepancy between steps creates a tripping hazard. Tall steps make climbing hard. Shallow steps are uncomfortable and dangerous. Since there’s so little room for error, building stairs requires careful layout and some potentially tricky calculations. Start by consulting your building codes office for local guidelines. Then, follow the procedure laid out on these pages–taking plenty of time to plan correctly. We used steps leading to a backyard deck as an example.

Building A Staircase

When building a stair, functionality is the most important consideration. Extreme accuracy must be used for a safe design. Before beginning construction, you should consult not only the national building-code requirements, but also the local building-code requirements. Some municipalities have stricter codes than others, and checking first will eliminate the need to rebuild later.

Building A Staircase

Cut the risers to length and fasten them to the stringers with 2 1/2-in. trim-head decking screws. Note that we cut the risers and treads to overhang the outer stringer by 1 1/4 in. Later, a 1 x 12 cedar trim board will be nailed to the stringer, giving the staircase a more finished look. This detail isn’t always necessary.

After installing the risers, fasten the treads with screws. Leave a 1/8- to 1/4-in. space between the treads. Continue installing treads, working your way up the staircase. The 4 x 4 posts used to support the stair rail are typically bolted to the stringers before installing the treads. However, we completed the stairs first, and then attached the posts and built the handrail that codes usually require.

How to Build Stairs in 3 Easy StepsBuilding a staircase, even a short one, isn’t simple. It requires precise measurements and some careful calculations. Here’s how.

Search Add New Question Can a small staircase be supplied in kit form? wikiHow Contributor Stringers of 3 to 5 steps can be purchased from your local lumber store. You can purchase them and the necessary step boards, cut to length, and assemble. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 12 How many steps should I make if they are 108 inches? wikiHow Contributor Fifteen steps for 7 3/16″ rise, or 14 for 7 3/4″ rise. Remember that the stringer steps are one less than the actual steps. You could go with the 15, and 4 stringers if you knew a piano was being moved up them. 1/2″ with 800+lbs makes a big difference. If the storm room is under the stairway, the extra stringers overhead can’t hurt. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 4 Helpful 9 What material can I use under steps to quieten down the noisiness? wikiHow Contributor Use a panel adhesive under each tread where it lays on top of stringers, before nailing. This is just like when framers (good framers that is) use same adhesive before installing decking to floor joists. This can be bought in caulking tubes at any lumber yard. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 10 How do I cut stringers when the bottom step is on a diagonal? wikiHow Contributor The bottom run length will be longer on the outside step side. Chances are very good your beam itself will not be wide enough for it, so you will need to glue and brace some lumber on top face to compensate for the run. Rather than waste the money buying two feet longer beams for a run, if you needed 2.75″, just build a shelf for first step and mounted stringers to it. This lets you use pressure treated lumber where it mounts to cement floor as well, solving two things with the one solution. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 2 How can I make steps that are a little deeper? wikiHow Contributor Your Increase the width of the stringer and tread. You can integrate the additional stringer by creating a channel on one stringer and a tongue on the other. Use an adhesive such as PL Premium. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 3

Can a small staircase be supplied in kit form? wikiHow Contributor Stringers of 3 to 5 steps can be purchased from your local lumber store. You can purchase them and the necessary step boards, cut to length, and assemble. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 12

Want to know how to build stairs? In many ways, the task of laying out a staircase resembles that of rafter layout. The carpenter’s square is essential; the rise/run ratio, too, comes into play, as it’s applied to the risers and the treads, the boards on the face and top surface of the stairs.

Determining the Run Now come the formulas. The Rise plus the Run should equal ap­proximately 17.5 inches. (Some designers prefer the formula Two Rise plus the Run should equal between 24 and 25 inches, but whichever formula you use, your staircase should probably have steps 7 inches or so high and treads 10 in­ches or so deep.) In our ex­ample, 17.5 minus 7 1/16 produces a tread width of 10 7/16 inches or, to use the al­ternative formula, we would have a width of between 9 7/8 inches and 10 7/8 inches.

After you have determined the proper codes to follow for your municipality, you are ready to begin the layout and calculations of your stair. Grab a pencil and commit your plans to paper, sketching a rough blueprint of your staircase.

From a technical standpoint, there’s nothing particularly difficult about building stairs for a deck, porch or shed. Anyone with basic carpentry skills can make the necessary cuts and assemble the parts. And yet, stair building is arguably the most challenging task do-it-yourselfers will ever attempt.

In order to advance your carpentry career you should learn how to build stairs. If you can cut a roof then learning how to cut and install steps should be fairly easy. The rise and run involved with step building are similar to roof framing in many ways. Even basic straight run steps are slightly different from one framing job to the next. There are strict guidelines that must be followed in order to construct a set of steps that will be sturdy, safe to navigate, and satisfy the building inspector. The following information is the method I use for site built steps.

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