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Remodeling a home to include or replace a staircase is a complex job that requires a lot of skill. Whether you find yourself up for the challenge or hire someone to complete this task for you, you may be wondering how long a flight of stairs should be. We have completed this research for you so that you can be confident in your ability to determine what size staircase works best for your home.
For most homes, the length of a flight of stairs is between 9 and 12 feet long. The total length of a flight of stairs for an 8-foot ceiling is approximately 9-feet long. The total length of a flight of stairs for a 10-foot ceiling is approximately 12-feet long.
It is important to keep in mind that while this answer can give you a general idea of the size staircase you may need based on the height of your first floor’s ceiling, there are other factors you will need to consider to get a more accurate and personalized measurement for your home. State codes, stair dimensions, added features, and the staircase location will all impact the final measurements. Please stay with us, as we explore each of these considerations.
Designing Your Staircase
Your state’s building codes are the first resources you will want to consult when designing your staircase. While the building code may feel daunting, it will give you the guidance you need to make sure your staircase is built safely and narrow down some of your design choices.
When you have a measurement of the total area that needs to be connected by a staircase, which can be done by measuring the distance between the floor of your first level and the floor of your second level, you will need to make decisions regarding your stairs.
The stair rise refers to the height of each step in your staircase. Most state codes mandate that the stair be at least four inches in height but no more than eight inches in height. You can choose a rise anywhere between these mandates, but the popular belief is that a rise of about seven inches results in the most comfortable stride. Once you determine the rise for your stairs, you can determine how many stairs you will need in total.
The run refers to the depth, or flat portion, of each stair. Most state codes mandate that the stair run be no less than nine inches but 10-inches is accepted as the most comfortable run for a flight of stairs.
While not all features are optional, all of them are additions to your staircase and will require extra ground space to accommodate.
Many state codes require a banister to be installed on any staircase that has more than four steps. The space your banister will take up depends on the style of the banister you choose. The standard banister will measure between 34-inches and 38-inches tall. Simpler banisters will be minimal in width, while more ornate banisters might be bulkier. It would be beneficial to choose your projected banister and get its measurements before installing your staircase so you can be sure that you have the proper space for the one you choose.
Unless you have particularly tall ceilings, you will likely not need to install a landing in your staircase at home. However, you can incorporate a landing for aesthetic reasons. Again, the dimensions of your proposed landing will need to be included in the space you dedicate to your staircase, and more complex landings will require more space.
If anyone in your home has mobility needs, you may want to consider accommodations that could be built into your staircase. A stairlift, for example, can be built onto a banister installed against the wall. While the staircase’s standard width is three feet, your staircase will need to be wider to accommodate this feature.
Location of Staircase
The location of your staircase will also impact the amount of space you will need. If you can situate your staircase against an existing wall, for example, you will need less space to build out your staircase than if your staircase is located in the center of your home.
What is the Standard Size of a Staircase?
The standard width of a staircase is 3-feet, 6-inches. It is more difficult to determine the standard height or length of a staircase, as these measurements depend on ceiling and wall height, the dimensions of each stair, and extra features such as landings that we’ve previously discussed.
How Do You Figure Out How Much Room You Need For a Staircase?
In order to determine how much area you will need to dedicate to your staircase, you will need to complete several measurements to determine how large your staircase will be. Here are some steps to follow to make this process easier:
- Measure the distance between the floor of your first level to the floor of your second level. This calculation will be the total rise of the staircase. For example, if there are 8-feet between these two areas, your total rise is 96-inches. (Using inches as your measurement will make your calculations easier.)
- Divide the number of inches in your total rise by how tall you want each stair to be in inches. A standard stair is about 9-inches tall, so for this example, you will need 11 stairs.
- Multiply the number of stairs by the width of each tread. In this example, 11 stairs multiplied by the minimum width of nine inches gives 99-inches for the stairs’ total run length.
- The total run length is the amount of space you will need for your staircase. In this example, 99-inches (or 8-feet, 3-inches) will need to be dedicated to your staircase.
- Keep in mind that this calculation would be different if you choose to add a handrail, landing, or other features to your staircase.
A Word About Landings
In one flight of stairs, a landing is the immediate area right before you step onto the staircase or step off the staircase. In multiple flights of stairs, the landing is an area that is typically larger than the standard stair, which provides an area for a break before proceeding onto the next flight of stairs. Whether or not your home’s staircase will need a landing depends on the length of your staircase.
How Many Stairs Can You Have Before Needing a Landing?
Staircases need to have a landing if the total vertical rise is more than 12-feet. How does this equate to your household staircase? The average rise in a residential staircase is 7.5 to 9-inches. This means that your staircase can have 16 to 19 stairs before you need to have a landing installed.
Does the Landing Count As a Step?
The number of steps in a staircase is defined by the number of times you have to lift your foot to move to a new platform. While a landing is a natural place in a staircase to take a rest, it is still considered a step because you have to lift your foot to get onto the landing.
Designing a staircase for your home requires extensive knowledge in both construction and your state’s regulations. While it is best to leave such a complex job to professionals, being aware of the process and understanding the decisions you will have to make will make the project smoother and less costly. For more information about remodeling or installing stairs in your home, check out these articles: