Stair Treads and Risers Dimensions

Stair Treads and Risers Dimensions

Ensure your staircase is safe and stylish with our guide on the optimal stair treads and risers dimensions, including standard sizes and design tips.
How to Measure Stair Tread Depth Reading Stair Treads and Risers Dimensions 5 minutes Next How to Measure Stair Steps

When designing or renovating a staircase, understanding the stair treads and risers dimensions is crucial for safety, comfort, and code compliance.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential measurements and considerations needed to ensure your stairway is not only beautiful but also functional and safe.

Accurate stair treads and risers dimensions are essential for creating a safe and comfortable staircase, typically involving a riser height of 7 inches and a tread depth of 11 inches to balance functionality with ease of use.

These measurements are important to know, if you are planning to install carpet stair treads, as you will need to install the correct size treads.

Here are some tips on measuring your stair treads and risers.

How to Measure Stair Treads and Risers   

Knowing how to measure stair treads and risers is the first step in ensuring your staircase is comfortable to use and meets local building codes. Here’s how to get it right:

  1. Measure the Tread Width: The tread is the horizontal part of the stair on which you step. To measure it, take the distance from the front edge of the step to the back where it meets the riser.

  2. Measure the Riser Height: This is the vertical part between each tread. Measure from the top of one tread to the top of the next.

  3. Use a Stair Gauge: For consistent accuracy, use a stair gauge on a framing square. This tool can help you mark out precise angles and lengths on your stair stringers (the structural support for the treads and risers). 

How to Measure Stair Steps   

Here's how to measure stair steps, in order to get a consistent and precise measurement:

  • Width Measurement: Measure horizontally across the top of the stair from one side to the other at the widest point. This is typically done from wall to wall.

  • Depth Measurement: Measure from the front edge of the stair to the back where the tread meets the riser, which is crucial for determining the depth of the tread.

Using accurate tools like a tape measure and ensuring each tread is measured individually will help maintain uniformity throughout the staircase, which is vital for safety and aesthetics.    

What is the Standard Size of Riser and Tread?   

What is the recommended rise and run for stairs? The standard dimensions for stair treads and risers can vary by jurisdiction, but there are general guidelines that many builders follow:

  • Riser Height: The typical riser height is between 7 and 8 inches. It’s important not to exceed these measurements as taller risers can be harder to climb and more dangerous, especially for children and the elderly.

  • Tread Depth: Standard tread depth is about 10 to 11 inches. This allows enough foot space to walk comfortably and safely up and down the stairs.

Remember, while these are standard sizes, always check your local building codes to ensure compliance, as requirements can vary.

These dimensions balance the space efficiency of the staircase with the ease of ascent and descent, adhering to the comfort rule, which states that the sum of one riser and one tread should be between 17 and 18 inches.

Ensuring Comfort and Safety in Stair Design   

To ensure your stairs are both comfortable and safe, consider these additional design elements:

Optimal Stair Width:   

  • General Use: Stairs should be at least 36 inches wide. This width accommodates most users comfortably and allows for the easy transport of furniture and other large items.

  • Escape Routes: For stairs that form part of an escape route, consider wider dimensions to accommodate more people simultaneously. 

Handrails and Guardrails:   

  • Handrails: Should be placed 34 to 38 inches above the stair treads and extend beyond the top and bottom of the stairs.

  • Guardrails: For open sides of stairs, guardrails should be at least 36 inches high in residential settings.


  • Ensure that stairs are well-lit to prevent accidents. Consider installing lights at regular intervals along the stairway and at landing areas. 

Aesthetic Considerations for Stair Treads and Risers   

While functionality and safety are paramount, the aesthetics of your stair treads and risers also play a significant role in the overall look and feel of your home. Consider these factors:

  • Materials: Choose materials that complement the interior design of your home. Hardwood, carpet, tile, and stone are popular choices that offer different styles and textures.

  • Color and Finish: The color and finish of your stairs can enhance the visual flow of your home. Lighter colors can make small spaces appear larger, while darker hues create a more intimate atmosphere.

  • Design Details: Add decorative elements such as contrasting nosing or unique riser designs to make your staircase a focal point of your home. 


Choosing the right stair treads and risers dimensions is not just about adhering to building codes—it's about creating a safe, comfortable, and beautiful pathway between the levels in your home. By understanding and implementing the proper measurements and design principles, you can ensure that your staircase will be a centerpiece of your home’s architecture that is both functional and stylish.

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