More in Stairs

Stepping Up

The right way to size a staircase


How do I get the proper rise when building a staircase?

– Ron, Barrington, RI


Tom Silva replies: The perfect rise on a step is between 7 and 7 3/4
inches. To find yours, measure the height from the first floor to the
second floor in inches. (Be sure to measure from finished floor to
finished floor. If you measure from the subfloor and then lay down your
floor, the measurements will be off and your stairs won't fit.)
Take the
floor-to-floor number and divide by 8. If it's a fraction, round off
to the next higher number. That's the number of steps you'll need. Take that number and divide it into the
floor-to-floor number and you will have your rise height.
For example:
If your floor-to-floor height is 100 inches and you divide by 8, you
get 12.5. Round this off to 13, and you know you need 13 steps. Now divide 13 into 100 and you get 7.7
inches for the riser height. You'll have 13 steps, each with a 7.7-inch rise.


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