Q:

How do you lay out stairs?

A:

Quick Answer

To lay out stairs, start by calculating rise and run, cutting stringers and installing treads and risers. This may seem simple to some, but the steps must adhere to strict building codes for safety reasons. Those lacking in carpentry experience or those who are not at least familiar with building stairs should get to know the basic anatomy of stairs before beginning.

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Full Answer

First, find the total rise (or overall vertical height) the stairs have to cover. A relatively easy way to determine this distance is by laying a straight board on top of the point to which the stairs will lead, extending it from the edge, and then measuring down to the landing location.

Next, cut the sloped boards, known as stringers, that support the stairs and carry the weight of the people using them. They are typically attached directly to the rim joists. After each stringer is screwed in, install the treads and risers. Although some stairs do not include risers, they protect the stringers from the weather and help them last longer. After installing the risers, fasten the treads with screws, and continue working up the staircase until finished. When the stairs are complete, install a handrail to improve the functionality and safety of the stairs.

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