How to build stair treads and risers

Written by steven douglas
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How to build stair treads and risers
Know the law before building stair treads and risers. (wooden staircase image by Yali Shi from

When building replacement stair treads or risers, it is important to comply with the UK building regulations (document K), and/or your local council planning requirements. All commercially available stair/riser combinations produced in the UK meet these requirements. Meeting these requirements when making replacement components is easy with a little planning and a good hand at taking measurements.

Things you need

  • Timber (same thickness as existing treads and risers)
  • Circular saw
  • Pencil
  • T square
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Screw gun
  • 7.5 cm (3 inch) wood screws
  • Eye protection

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  1. 1

    Measure the stair depth on your existing stairs. Stair depth is measured from the front edge where the heel of your foot meets the step (called the nose of the step) to where your toe meets the next step's riser (the riser is the part that elevates each step from the previous one). The stair depth is termed by officials as the "going" and it should be a minimum of 220 mm (8.66 inches) for a private house.

  2. 2

    Measure the stair risers on your existing stairs. Stair riser height is measured from the back edge of the stair (where your toe meets the riser) until the top of that riser, where the part you stand on begins. Document K specifies a maximum height of 220 mm (8.66 inches) for a riser on a private staircase.

  3. 3

    Write down your exact tread and riser measurements. As long as your measurements meet the requirements, no permits will be required to replace existing components. Using a T square, trace a new tread or riser, using these existing dimensions, onto a suitably sized piece of uncut timber. Be sure your measurements are correct.

  4. 4

    Cut new treads and risers as needed with the circular saw. Wear eye protection.

  5. 5

    Remove the tread and/or riser to be replaced, being careful not to split any surrounding wood. Apply a liberal amount of carpenter's glue to the edges of the new components where they will meet the existing components.

  6. 6

    Slide the new components into place, then install four wood screws with uniform spacing on all treads and risers. If necessary, countersink the screws for a cleaner appearance.

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