Step by Step: Stair Calculators

Whether you are building a deck or a staircase, you’ll need the steps to fit in the available space and to be easy to navigate. To do so, you’ll need to determine the size and depth of the steps, keeping in mind that building codes may impose specific requirements.

I’ve got my own technique for determining stair rise and run, but there are easier ways. I recommend a couple of really good calculators that can help you when building stairs.

The step calculator on Decks.com is easy to understand and gives very useful  information. There is a diagram that illustrates all of the terms used.

The information it asks for is:

  • Total rise,
  • Step run, or tread type,
  • Deck joist size, and
  • Stringer attachment method.

Output includes:

  • Stringer length,
  • Total run,
  • Total height,
  • Step run,
  • Step rise, and
  • The angle between the ground and the stringer.

The other good calculator is the one provided by Blocklayer.com. This calculator gives you loads of information, including ALL the measurements you’re gonna need. But it can be a bit daunting at first sight. It also has a diagram that explains the terms used. The really cool thing is that it redraws the diagram to scale for you.

All inputs are chosen from drop-down menus or radio buttons and include:

  • Total rise,
  • Possible and ideal rises for each step,
  • Ideal run, total run, or angle,
  • Stringer width or concrete thickness,
  • Tread thickness, riser thickness, nosing, and stair width, and
  • Headroom or floor opening, and floor thickness.

The output includes:

  • All the measurements provided by Decks.com, plus
  • All other possible stringer dimensions.

If you just want a quick rise and run calculator, go to Decks.com. But if you want a detailed, scale diagram with all measurement, Blocklayer.com would be the best choice.

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