Staircase basics

If you want to know the basics of staircase construction, then you should know the functionality of each components, the measurements and calculations. If you know these things, then you should be able to easily build your own staircase.

Staircase components

The first part that you should know is the tread.

This is the piece on which you step. They are usually 11 1/2 inches wide, but they can be trimmed to 10 inches. If you want comfortable stairs, then you should have more than 11 inches.

The component that separates the steps is the riser. To avoid any possible accidents, each riser must be 7 1/2 inches in height. Each riser will rest on the previous tread.

Stair stringers are the parts that keep the stairs and risers up. This is the structure on which the treads and the risers rest. This component also gives the level of the step. You can buy these from your local lumberyard. Two pieces of 2×10 inches lumber will do. If you have stairs that have more than 30 inches in width, then you should use 3 pieces of lumber.

The newel post is maybe the most decorative and strongest component of the stairs. This newel post will be placed at the foot of the staircase. The handrail and the upright baluster posts will be attached to it. The handrail helps people in their ascent. The balusters can also be decorated but will also need to offer resistance. They need to be evenly spaced to prevent accidents.

Calculation and measurements

The two most important measurements are the rise and the run of the staircase. All risers must be equal, so you will need to divide the total height by the height of each riser. If you have in mind that almost all houses have 9 feet distance from one floor to another, this means approximately 15 risers, each having around 7 1/2 inches. Keep in mind the standard height of the risers. This will allow a more comfortable run.


Be careful to firmly secure the treads and risers to the stringers. This will eliminate staircase squeaks. You can use adhesive between these pieces and also screws to hold them tight.

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