Stair tread length is determined by your design. Other stair tread dimensions such as thickness and depth are determined by your local building code. The number of stair treads is also determined by your staircase height from the ground to the top of the stairs. Before laying out your own staircase, it's a good idea to check your local building code.
Stair treads are what you step on when you go up a flight of steps. Stair treads when installed into interior applications are almost always 1 inch thick. Interior treads are specially manufactured from high-density fibre-core material and used exclusively for building stair steps. In outdoor applications such as decking, treads are usually made from 2-by-6 planks which are actually 1 1/4 inches thick. Interior stair treads are often rounded off with a 1/2-inch bullnose router bit.
The run of a staircase layout is the horizontal depth of the stair tread. Most codes call for at minimum depth of 9 inches. Depending on your building materials and design, it's a good idea to go deeper than 9 inches to make the staircase more comfortable when climbing; a depth of 11 or 12 inches works better.
Rise is the vertical distance between stair treads. Ideally, rise should be 7 inches. Rise is determined by the number of stair treads and must be figured out before cutting the stringers. The formula for cutting risers is: height of staircase from the ground to the top of the stairs divided by 7 inches. If your number comes out in fractions, round the number up to the nearest whole number.
Stringers are the sides of the staircase, typically cut from fir 2-by-12s. The length of the stringer is determined by the height of your staircase from top to bottom. The single most important point of measurement when cutting a stringer is the weakest point in the staircase. This is the point at which the tread is cut into the stringer or "run" of the stair tread. This measurement can never be less than 3 1/2 inches from the bottom point of the terminating point of the stair tread run to the bottom, backside or underneath side of the stringer.
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