How to Build Stairs

How to Build Stairs

When it comes to designing and constructing a quality staircase, the old carpenter’s adage of ‘always measure twice and cut once’, is something you will need to remember and practice throughout the entire process on how to build stairs.

Since functionality is the most important element of a staircase for basic safety reasons, it is imperative to make precise and accurate measurements and cuts when designing and constructing your stair design. But prior to actually starting the process of stair design, be sure to consult both local and national building code requirements to be certain that your staircase will be safe and up to all standards. Remember: the art of the carpenter-built stair is not one easily mastered, so it will take more than the basic information presented here to understand the more nuanced details of measuring and cutting.

A Guide on How to Build Stairs

There are several measurements you will need to calculate and verify in order to complete your stair design, here are some of the fundamental measurements you will need:

  • The size of your stairwell, leaving sufficient headroom so as to have enough space for your head when walking up and down the stairs (believe it or not, it is actually not uncommon for carpenters to forget this calculation only to realize at the end of construction that the stairwell is too short!).
  • The number of risers (the vertical space between the treads) and the number of treads (the horizontal walking surface).
  • The length of the stairwell-the width of the upper floors vertical shaft in which the stairs are located).

Once all of the calculations and measurements have been checked and rechecked, it is time to start assembling your stair design. Here are the main constructing steps, summarized but not limited to the following 11 steps:

  1. Lay out the stringers, which are the support of the treads and risers, by setting the rise and run of the stair on the framing square.
  2. Mark off the number of treads and risers, being sure to start with the first riser and end with the top riser, followed drawing in the second floor line.
  3. Repeat for all 3 of the risers.
  4. Double check the stair design by making any necessary final adjustments to the stringers, after taking into account any changes to the top and bottom risers.
  5. Once the stringers are correctly laid out, it’s time to cut the triangle portions off of the framing square. Check the accuracy of the stringers by placing them together to see if they align; if they do not, you must make adjustments.
  6. Position the right and left stringers on top of the 1-by-12 inch skirt boards, which are nailed together, so then the stringers, can be nailed directly on top of the dry wall (if no dry wall, you must fill out the stringers to the thickness of the wall and nail or screw in place).
  7. Mount the center stringer to the top of the header and the blocking at the floor.
  8. After the stringers are in place double check all the tread cuts for level and plumb, in every direction, and also to make sure that the top and bottom risers allow for the finished tread height.
  9. Next, rip and nail the risers into place and then glue them as well.
  10. After cutting the treads to the correct length, glue and nail them into place.
  11. Finally, you will likely need to mount a handrail, be sure to mount it all 34 inches above the leading edge of the tread, and that it contains a wall rail bracket screwed into a stud or backing every 4 feet.

Building stairs can be a difficult and confusing task. That is why iStairs is ready to help you get the stair design you want. Call us today to find out how we can take care of everything for you!