If you want to add a staircase to your home, it's important to understand how many steps to add to your staircase, the amount of square footage it will take up, the design, and other safety considerations. It's best to speak with a contractor who understands your city's building codes and regulations before adding stairs. However, there are standard rules of thumb when it comes to knowing how many stairs are in a typical floor.
The average height of a typical ceiling in a home is anywhere between 8 to 12 feet. The average height of a riser (meaning the steps on a stair) is between 4 inches to 7.75 inches. To find the appropriate number of steps needed in your home's staircase, take the total number of inches for your ceiling and divide it by the height of the riser. A typical staircase can have anywhere between 17 to 21 steps.
What is a Riser on a Staircase?
When building a staircase, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some key terms and building language associated with your stairs. When you hear the term "Riser," this refers to the height of the steps on the stairs. The height of each step can be as low as 4 inches or as high as 7.75 inches for a family home or townhouse less than 3 stories.
These riser heights are in accordance with the International Building Code, or IBC. It's important to check these building codes whenever you initiate a new project, as they can change every year. It's also best to know what category your building falls under. If building a staircase that isn't inside of your primary dwelling (such as in a business or office), the building codes might change to only allow up to 7 inches of riser height, instead of 7.75 inches.
Once you understand the height requirement for your rise, it's easy to calculate how many steps will be required.
Why Calculating is Essential
You will need to calculate the number of steps before designing your staircase in order to budget for materials, know how much space is needed in square footage, and determine if the number of steps will be an issue.
Materials to cover your staircase can include carpet, tile, vinyl, or wood. Taking measurements and planning out how many steps will be required before your project will allow you to budget for these materials.
What is the Run on a Staircase?
The run on the staircase is the length of the staircase itself. According to the same International Building Code 1011.5.2 for Riser height and tread depth mentioned earlier, this code also mentions the minimum tread depth for stairs. The tread depth is how wide the step is, and it is required to be a minimum of 11 inches for buildings that are not your personal dwelling. Personal dwellings need to have a tread depth that is a minimum of 10 inches.
Let's say your home has 10-foot high ceilings. You want your steps to have a 7-inch rise. This means you will multiply 10 feet by 12 inches, which is 120 inches in total height. Divide this by 7 inches, which is 17.14 rounded up to 18 stair steps. If each step requires a minimum tread depth of 10 inches for your home, this means the total run of your stairs will be 180 inches in length, or around 15 feet, give or take. Your builder will also change the slope slightly to fit your needs, but this is a good estimate for your initial calculations for the run.
Do I Have to Include Landings?
Although you don't have to include landings for your personal home, you must include them in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as ADA, regulations. The ADA requires landings placed on your stairs every 12 feet of stairway rise. By calculating the number of steps that will fit into 12 feet (according to your personal preferences), you can then plan how many landings will be needed for your floor.
How Can I Add Stairs for Elderly People?
You can absolutely build stairs for seniors or those with mobility issues in your home! For older individuals, it's best to design stairs that have a lower rise than 7.75 inches. If your loved one needs help traveling upstairs, but still wants a staircase built, designing low-rise stairs of 4 or 5-inch height is an excellent choice. Keep in mind, however, that low-rise stairs will require more run due to the minimum tread length requirements.
It's best to talk to a builder who can help design stairs that are low enough to travel up safely, yet don't take up too much room in the home. You can also create a safer environment for your loved one by incorporating anti-slip rugs for stairs such as these on Amazon. For extra safety, you can also incorporate stair rails such as these to your staircase as well.
What If I Want to Build a Master Staircase?
If you want to build a master staircase, such a spiral staircase, keep in mind that the building codes will change completely. For instance, a grand spiral staircase in your home will need to have a minimum tread depth of 6 inches in the winder portion (meaning the portion that is closest to the circular, winding portion of the stairs).
In addition, master staircases might also need to include more landings if they are being built in a public area. Your contractor can help you design a spiral staircase or a master staircase that will fit your home or other property.
Does the Design Affect the Number of Stairs?
The design will not necessarily affect the number of steps. For instance, spiral staircases will still need to be designed with the appropriate riser height, although changed slightly due to differences in tread depth.
For more information on how your winding staircase or other designed staircase will change, you should contact your builder so they can address your concerns.
Getting Professional Help
Adding stairs to your home can be a great project to undertake. If you want to easily access a loft area in your home, or are planning on building a second story, adding stairs can be an excellent way to improve the functionality and look of your home.
However, there's more to simply measuring the number of steps and run of your stairs. Building codes, landing regulations, and taking into consideration safety are all key factors that must not be ignored. In order to help you on your home renovation journey, it's best to get the help of a builder that understands how to design the best set of stairs, add them to your home, and build it so it can withstand the test of time.