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How to build stairs

When building stairs, it is important to design and take measurements carefully before making the final cuts on the materials. Working with materials can be costly in terms of finance, time and effort. Carpenters and homeowners should make the effort and check with building codes to ensure an exact cut and fit when building DIY stairs. Read this article to learn more on how to build stairs.

Design considerations

Before building steps or making the first cut, homeowners and carpenters should consider the design of the wooden steps first. Homeowners with no prior experience in carpentry can learn how to make steps. There are three main parts to the stairs: the riser, the tread and the stringer. The size of the tread is the length of the stair while the riser is the height. Both parts are fastened to the stringer. A stair stringer will bear the weight of the steps and the person walking up and down the staircase. Research on the national and local building codes as certain jurisdictions or municipalities may have more specific requirements.

Measuring the existing space

Measure the distance between the first floor and the second floor. This distance is known as the total rise. Also, measure the available opening for the stair case. Wider openings will require additional stringers to support the weight of the treads and risers. When designing the wood staircase, remember to leave enough space for the headroom. This prevents residents from bumping their heads on the ceiling, whether they are going up or down the wooden stair. It also leaves enough space for moving furniture or items to and from the upper floors. As a guide, a headroom height of 6’8” is commonly used. Check with building codes for alternative measurements.

Planning the stringer

Determining the number of stairs is a tricky process. Finding and using an online staircase calculator can make the task easier. To do it manually, the technique is to divide the distance between the two finished floors by 7.5. This will give the number of risers. Dividing the total rise with this number will produce the measurement for each rise. For instance, a staircase with a height of 119” will have 15.87 or 16 risers. Each riser will measure 7.44 or 7.5 inches. To determine the total length of the stairway, simply subtract one from the number of risers and multiply this with the tread size. In some regions, the normal tread size is 10 inches. Using the same example, multiply 15 by 10, and the length of the staircase will be 150 inches long.

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