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CARPENTRY - HOUSING

STAIR
BUILDING
This text introduces subject matter related to the set out and construction of timber
stairs. It builds on knowledge and skills acquired during the first stage, which should
be revised and practiced throughout the course.
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TAFE and Addison, Wesley, Longman Australia Pty Limited, to re-examine and
reinforce these basic skills.
The main areas covered are:
Internal and external stairs and associated balustrades.
Various stair types are outlined, including dogleg, quarter space and single flights.
Internal stairs will have closed risers, handrails and balusters, while the external stairs
will be open riser with handrails and guardrails.
BCA requirements are covered to allow for design and construction of residential
stairs, including slope relationship formula (2R + G) and maximum spaces between
treads to create safe open riser stairs.
Method of setting out, cutting and assembling internal and external stairs is covered as
well as the calculation of quantities and cost of materials for both internal and external
stairs.
Note: This text only covers stair types and stair requirements for residential
construction.
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a detailed description of trade terms, technical content and some trade jargon.

©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division

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STAIR BUILDING

STAIRS
A stair consists of a number of steps, made up of treads and risers, combined and supported to
provide continuous access between floors and/or landings. It may also be referred to, more
commonly, in the plural sense as a ‘
St
ai
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way

.
Note: It is preferable to use the terms Stair or Stairway as opposed to Staircase, which
originally referred to the space in which a flight was built.

Fig. 1 Stairs for residential construction

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©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division

CARPENTRY - HOUSING

DEFINITIONS - Stair Types
Bracketed stair: Also referred to as ‘
Cutandbr
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, it is a stair with strings having the
shape of treads and risers cut out on the top edge and fitted with an ornamental bracket, or fret
work, underneath.
Circular stair: A stair with or without a central well having steps, which radiate from a
common centre.
Closed stair: A stair, which has side walls or partitions on both sides and is usually closed by a
door at one end. It may also be referred to as a ‘
Box
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, or an ‘
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Closed string stair: A stair in which the treads are not visible in a side view of the stair flight.
Dogleg stair: Also referred to as a ’
Hal
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ur
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ai
r

, it is a stair with two flights between
storeys, which are connected by a rectangular half landing for a 180° turn. The outer strings of
each flight are housed into a common newel post, which does not allow for any stairwell.
Geometric stair: A continuous sweeping or flying stair, with no newel posts or landings,
having a continuous curved string and handrail. It may be designed to fit a semicircular or
elliptical stairwell.
Helical stair: A stair with a circular plan where all the treads are winders. This stair is also
known as a ‘
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Open newel stair: An open stairwell with two landings between floors, short flights between
landings, and newel posts at the corners.
Open riser stair: A stair consisting of strings and treads with no riser boards between treads,
thus leaving the risers open.
Open stair: A stair, which is not enclosed by walls or separated from the space where it is
placed.
Open string stair: A stair with a cut string to the shape of the risers and treads, on one or both
sides, facing the stairwell.
Quarter turn stair: A stair with two flights at right angles to each other with a quarter space
landing between them.
Return flight stair: A dogleg stair where the outer strings of each flight are vertically above
each other.
Spine string stair: An open riser steel stair with a single central spine (spine string) and
welded tread supports.
Winding stair: A circular or curved stair, which changes direction by means of winders, with
or without landings.

©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division

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2 Straight open-riser Half Space Landing Fig. 6 Spiral or Helical ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . Some of the types available are as follows: First floor landing Landing Diagonal Bracing Housed string SECTION A-A ELEVATION 1 Spandrell panelling Storage under Second or Return Flight First floor landing Tie bolt Ground Floor First Flight Fig. function. 4 Quarter turn Centre level ELEVATION ELEVATION All treads are winders in circular and spiral stairs Fig. 3 Dogleg SECTION B-B Quarter space landing Bull Nose step Quarter space of winder preferably kept to bottom of flight or otherwise avoided Fig. decoration and/or aesthetic appeal. 5 Geometrical circular 4 Fig.STAIR BUILDING Common Stair types Stairs may be designed in a variety of forms to provide practicality.

then the Greeks in structures found at the Acropolis.HOUSING MATERIALS USED FOR STAIRS Stairs may be constructed from a wide range of materials. Spiral stone stairs were also very popular throughout history with many being used in medieval English castles through to more modern Spanish structures. 7 Detail of a typical stone spiral stair flight ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 5 . which include stone.CARPENTRY . followed by the Romans in structures like the Colosseum and the Forum Romanum. Evidence of this can be seen in such early structures produced firstly by the Egytians in many of their temples and sarcophagi (burial tombs). as found in the towers of Antonio Ga udi ’ sSagrada Familia in Barcelona. STONE This was probably the first material used for purpose made stairs in the history of building. steel. concrete and/or combinations of these. brick. timber. Fig.

Fig. 8 Small solid brick flight of stairs CONCRETE Reinforced concrete stairs are more commonly found in commercial construction.Dr ypr e s s e dbr i c ksa r epr e f e r r e df orbr i c ks t a i r sa nds t e psa st he ydon’ t have holes through them. They are usually laid on a concrete strip footing on either side to support the enclosing wing walls and may have treads constructed of brick-on-flat. The most common use of concrete stairs in residential construction. Brick-on-edge coping to wing wall Solid brick steps with brick-on-edge treads Fig. 9 External reinforced concrete stairs 6 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . like the extruded types. and may be laid frog down to provide a neat finish. however this method of construction may also be used in residential buildings where the upper floor is also concrete. is externally from balconies and verandahs. brick-on-edge or a r e nde r e dbr i c kf i ni s h.STAIR BUILDING BRICK Small flights of solid brick stairs are used externally for access to and from low patios and verandahs.

although they were simplified in design and detail using a steel spine and handrail. Spiral stairs had a revival during the 1960’ sa nde a r l y70’ si nma ny contemporary cottages. the preferred going width to step rise. however they may also be used internally. supporting timber treads.CARPENTRY . The tread width in the slope relationship. i. is calculated at 7/10 (seven tenths) of the distance between the outside of the centre pole and the inside of the handrail. 10 Typical elevation and plan of an iron spiral stair ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 7 . used in many Victorian period buildings where narrow building designs only provided compact areas for stairs. Some newer versions are of all timber construction using modular units and spacers to construct the flight.e. Fig. The most common construction type is the spiral stair.HOUSING STEEL OR IRON Steel stairs are more commonly associated with external commercial fire stairs. This allows a person to ascend or descend the flight safely and easily.

11 Steel external stairs Combinations of steel and timber may be used for internal stairs or steel and precast concrete treads for external use. having open risers. Solid or laminated timber may be used for the treads and the handrails are typically made of fabricated steel. to support and provide fixing for the treads. 12 Combination stairs 8 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division .STAIR BUILDING OTHER TYPES Straight flight steel stairs are most commonly used in commercial work as fire stairs and catwalks. The usual method of design is to have a steel spine or carriage piece with welded angular brackets. They are normally constructed of galvanised steel with chequer-plate treads and landings. MS handrail RS channel frame to landing 10mm MS String RS stanchion supports Chequer plate treads Section Plan Fig. Single steel spine or carriage piece Welded angular brackets Solid or laminated timber treads Fig.

grey gum. brushbox. such as most of the conifers. turpentine and many other species. risers. jarrah. as they provide the best resistance to wear and tear. landings and handrails and are normally closed riser construction. Sydney bluegum.HOUSING TIMBER STAIRS Timber stairs are probably the most common form of stair found in a residential building. which are to be stained or clear finished. 13 Timber stairs for residential construction ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 9 . treads. They comprise of strings. Fig. and open riser construction for external use. are normally made from hardwood timbers.CARPENTRY . Timber stairs. for internal use. Where the treads and risers are to be covered with carpet the base material may be of structural particleboard or MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard). should be avoided for traffic areas. Naturally soft timbers. Commonly used timbers may include meranti.

Nosing: This is the rounded front edge of the tread. Glue block Wedge: These are tapered lengths of timber driven into prepared tapered housings in the string. with a Max. Wedges Newel post: This is an upright post. 125mm opening size placed between the handrail and string. Balusters: These are the small sectioned vertical members. Handrail Balusters Newel post Brackets Balustrade: This is the whole framing. String Spandrel Fig.STAIR BUILDING PARTS OF TIMBER STAIRS Nosing String: There may be one or two strings to a flight. which projects past the face of the riser board. Riser board Tread Tread: This is the wide horizontal member between strings to form the top of the step. placed behind the riser and under the tread to ensure a tight top side gap-free fit. which are the inclined sides of the stairs designed to carry the load transferred from the treads and risers. newel posts and string or kick plate for landing balustrades. Handrail: A rail fixed between newel posts parallel to the top edge of the string. which comprises of a handrail. 14 Parts of the stairs 10 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . to which the strings and handrail are attached. balusters. to provide a safety rail for stair users. Spandrel: This is the triangular shaped space formed between the underside of the string and the floor. Its purpose is to finish the tread edge and widen the tread to prevent the riser from being kicked or scraped. String Riser board: This is the narrow horizontal member between strings to form the vertical face of each step. Glue blocks: Triangular blocks of timber fitted under the back of the tread/riser connection to hold the two together.

The length of the landing is equal to the width of the flight and the width of the landing is equal to twice the width of the flight. often referred to as a ‘ Dogl e g’stair. 17 Intermediate landing ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 11 . The length of the landing is equal to the width of the flight and the width of the landing is also equal to the width of the flight. A landing may take the following forms: Half–space landing: This is a landing formed between flights at 180° to one another. often referred to as a ‘ Quar t e r -t ur n’stair. This break may be in the form of another floor level or a landing. before it must have a break. Fig. Fig. 16 Quarter-space landing Intermediate landing: This is a landing formed between flights running in the same direction.CARPENTRY . plus a stairwell if required. Fig. The length of the landing is equal to at least the width of the flight and the width is equal to the width of the flights.HOUSING LANDINGS A flight of stairs is limited to 18 risers. 15 Half-space landing Quarter–space landing: This is a landing formed between flights at 90° to one another.

STAIR BUILDING PROPORTIONS OF STAIRS When measuring up for stairs. it is important to know the exact measurements of the length and height of the flight. Going of Flight: This is the horizontal distance measured between the face of the first riser and the face of the last riser. 19 Rise and Going of a step 12 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . The following proportions must be obtained: Rise of Flight: This is the vertical distance measured between landings or between finished floor levels. Rise of flight Going of Flight Fig. Fig. 18 Rise and Going of a flight Rise of Step: This is the vertical distance measured from the top of one tread to the top of the next tread. (The nosing is not included in this measurement) Going of step Note: The rise and going proportions must remain the same throughout the flight(s) of stairs. Rise of step Going of Step: This is the horizontal distance measured between the face of one riser and the face of the next riser. to allow for accurate calculation of the treads and rises.

Spiral Stairs: These stairs must not be wider than 1. Risers and Goings: All risers and goings must be equal throughout the flight or connected flights. which is 600mm. 20 Critical stair dimensions ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 13 . Open Risers: Where open risers are used.0m and must have the allowable tread width for the stair at seven tenths (7/10) of the flight width out from the face of the central support pole.CARPENTRY . the gap between the top of one tread and the bottom of the next tread must not exceed 125mm. 865 1000 min Handrail Fig. Note: 125mmi st hee s t i mat e dmi ni mums i z eofay oungc hi l d ’ she ad. Other critical dimensions are shown on the following diagram: Ceiling line 2030 min. 125 max Newel post Balusters 125 Max. however it is suggested that the flight be at least equal to the average width of an adult persons shoulders. Flight Width: According to the BCA. there is no maximum or minimum width of a flight for residential construction. Tread Finish: Treads must have a non-slip finish or have a non-skid strip fixed close to the edge of the nosing.HOUSING BCA COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS Stairs for residential use must comply with the following: Maximum Risers: The minimum number of risers required to make a flight is two (2) and the Maximum number of risers allowed without a break/landing/floor is eighteen (18).whi c hi fabl et opas st hr ought hega pwoul d al l owt hec hi l d’ sbo dyt of ol l o w.

0m wide.STAIR BUILDING STAIRS WITH WINDERS An alternative to a single level landing is the use of ‘ Wi nde r s ’ . Where winders are used instead of a landing.which are normal treads with a tapered length. the tread size may be different from the parallel treads provided all the winders are the same size and there are is a maximum of only three (3). 21 Layout for stair winders 14 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . They have a constant rise to match the other parallel steps and should have a tread going to match other parallel treads. (Kite winder) 1. Note: Flights greater than 1.0m wide should have the tread going measurement at 400mm out from the inside handrail side.0m or less Winders Proportion for going measured along this line for all treads Equal Equal Fig. when measured at the centre of the flight width for flights less than 1.

TABLE 1 ACCEPTABLE PROPORTIONS FOR STAIRS RISER (R) (mm) GOING (G) (mm) SLOPE RELATIONSHIP (2R+G) (mm) Min. i. and apply the formula (2R + G). STEP 3 Establish the number of risers by dividing the assumed rise into the rise of the flight. known as the Slope Relationship.e. Max. often referred to as ‘ Eas ygoi ngs t ai r s ’ . substitute the average rise measurement for ‘ R’in the formula. STEP 4 Establish the length of the going by using the average slope relationship measurement. as per BCA. STEP 2 Assume a suitable rise. by substituting them for ‘ R’and ‘ G’ . or (2R +G). when the average rise is (190 + 115) ÷ 2 = 153mm . Max. for calculating riser and tread dimensions for stairs. Min. 115 190 240 355 550 700 Calculating Rise and Going for a Flight The basic information required to calculate the rise and going for any flight of stairs is:   The rise of the flight. and   Basic knowledge of BCA requirements and formula for slope relationship.HOUSING DETERMINING STEP PROPORTIONS The accepted formula. METHOD 1 The following steps outline the method adopted to calculate the rise and going for a given flight of stairs with an ‘ unr e s t r i c t e d’going: METHOD 2 STEP 1 Obtain the rise of the flight. Check to see if both the rise and going measurements comply. Min. is twice the rise plus one going. The result of this calculation must fall between 550mm and 700mm. ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 15 . STEP 4 Establish the length of the going by dividing the assumed rise into the restricted flight going. ( 550 + 700) ÷ 2 = 625mm. STEP 3 Establish the number of risers by dividing the assumed rise into the rise of the flight. The following steps outline the method adopted to calculate the rise and going for a given flight of stairs with a ‘ r e s t r i c t e d’going: STEP 1 Obtain the rise of the flight. when the average rise is (190 + 115) ÷ 2 = 153mm .   Going of flight and whether it is restricted or unrestricted. Max. then transpose the formula to find ‘ G’ .CARPENTRY . STEP 2 Assume a suitable rise.

 The height of each riser = 2650 ÷ 17 = 155. say 156mm STEP 4 The number of goings will be one (1) less than the risers. 320 risers There must be full equal-sized risers. 22 Layout of stairs for an unrestricted flight 16 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 2650 156 Note: The total length of the flight going will be 16 x 313 = 5. calculate the number and size of the rises and goings for a flight of stairs with a rise of flight of 2. STEP 1 Rise of flight = 2650mm STEP 2 Assume a rise.882.008m . 313 5008 Fig. therefore round off to 17 risers.650m and an unrestricted going of flight. there will be 17 risers at 156mm and 16 goings at 313mm. therefore 16 goings. Now substitute the known measurements for the formula symbols: = (2R+G) = 625 = (312 + G) = 625 No wt r a ns pos et hef or mul at of i ndt heva l ueof‘ G’ :  ’ G’=625.STAIR BUILDING Example 1: Using ‘ Me t hod1’ .312 = 313mm Therefore. say average = (190 + 115) ÷ 2 = 153mm STEP 3 Number of risers = 2650 ÷ 153 = 17. The size of the goings will be based on the average slope relationship measurement = (550 + 700) ÷ 2 = 625mm.

23 Layout of stairs for a restricted flight ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 17 . 14. there will be 12 risers at 158mm and 11 goings at 305mm.CARPENTRY .418 risers There must be full equal-sized risers. The size of the goings will be based on the length of the flight going divided by the number of goings: = 3350 ÷ 11 = 304.333. 3350 Fig. say average = (190 + 115) ÷ 2 = 153mm STEP 3 Number of risers = 1900 ÷ 153 = 12. say 305mm Therefore.  The height of each riser = 1900 ÷ 12 = 158. therefore 11 goings. calculate the number and size of the rises and goings for a flight of stairs with a rise of flight of 1. Check formula for compliance with BCA 305 1900 158   (2R + G) = ( between 550 and 700mm) = 316 + 305 = 621mm. therefore it complies.900m and a restricted going of flight of 3.350m. therefore round off to 12 risers.HOUSING Example 2: Using ‘ Me t hod2’ . STEP 1 Rise of flight = 1900mm STEP 2 Assume a rise. say 158mm STEP 4 The number of goings will be one (1) less than the risers.5.

STAIR BUILDING METHOD OF MEASURING UP for TIMBER STAIRS The accuracy of the finished product will depend on the accuracy of the initial measuring up on-site. available headroom.g. A more accurate method of establishing the rise would be to mark the height onto a rod or batten. walls. doorways. and   Calculate a suitable rise and going for each step. Finished upper floor Measure rise Proposed stair position Measure available going Fig. based on the slope relationship formula. etc.   Check the going of the flight for restrictions. square and straight to ensure a proper fit.   Note the bearing position for the top of the flight to allow for fixing and finishing of the top riser and nosing. e. and record the going of the flight. 24 Check on-site details 18 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division Doorway . (2R + G) = 550 to 700mm.e. as follows:   Measure the finished floor to finished floor height to establish the rise of the flight. if required.   Check the position of existing windows to ensure the flight(s) do not pass across an opening. or to allow for coverstrips where the strings do not fit neatly to the walls. There are several points to consider and critical information to record.   Check the walls for parallel. as required. i. or to determine whether or not a landing will be required between flights.

including the set back distance for the margin line.HOUSING SETTING OUT THE STRINGS Once the rise and going of each step is established. carry out the following: STEP 1 Select string material. to ensure the nosing stays within the width of the string. 26 Set out the strings ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 19 . Start from one end to allow for riser. Margin line String Fig. then mark out all the rise and tread positions.CARPENTRY . newel post and point of attachment notch. Steel square set up for step set out Rise STEP 2 Going Margin line String Fig. Note: These set out positions represent the top of the tread and the face of the rise. 25 Set a margin line as required Set up a steel square with the calculated rise and going measurements for each step. place any bows up and set a margin line from the top edge. for closed strings.

28 Complete string set out 20 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . Top newel post position End of tenon Shoulder of tenon Bottom newel post position Treads. 27 Set out positions for treads and risers STEP 4 Set out the complete string with allowances for wedges under treads and behind risers. including a stopped housing for the end of the tread nosing.STAIR BUILDING STEP 3 Set out for the thickness of each rise and tread. tenons into newel posts and reduction of string length to fit between newel posts. risers and wedge allowance Shoulder of tenon End of tenon Level cut to bottom of string Fig. The strings should be set out and trenched as a pair. Thickness of tread marked Thickness of riser marked Fig. ready to be trenched.

The detail below provides set out details to allow for the fabrication of a standard template.CARPENTRY . riser and wedge outline within the template. Note: A similar template may be fabricated for use with a router. which has the tread. The adjustable guides are set to suit the string width being used. The opening sizes are increased to allow a template guide to be fitted to the base plate of the router. The template may be reversed to set out both left and right strings. 200 65 Wingnut 100 Wingnut 100 30 65 30x18 425 30mm long Slotted hole 6mm Plywood 100 Sharpened nails in predrilled holes 60 80 30x18 30 Wingnut 275 550 220 60 34 380 DETAIL FOR TREAD and RISER 35 Fig.HOUSING STRING SET OUT TEMPLATE An alternative to setting out individual treads and risers is to use a template. 29 Typical stair set out template ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 21 . which runs around the tread. riser thickness and wedge allowance prepared ready to be traced onto the string to suit the particular set out required. which allows the template to slide along after each set out is made.

Step template ‘ X’ String Template guide Outline for router template guide ’ ‘ x Fig.STAIR BUILDING ROUTER AND TEMPLATE The quickest way to remove the waste from string set outs and cut neatly to the outline is to use a router fitted with a template guide. A string template may be made by increasing the size of the string template to allow for the thickness of the protruding router template guide. 31 Step template for router guide 22 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . This allows the router cutter to cut neatly along the set out lines and remove the waste at the same time. 30 Router fitted with template guide Allowance for template guide Original step outline Fig.

as well as a portion of each tread and nosing.CARPENTRY . This means that both these risers will be housed into the newel posts. Shoulder line on string material Newell is positioned with centre line on face of the riser board Newel String Housing to take nosing and riser Double tenon Tread Newel notched for landing trimmer Newel Housing to take tread and riser String Detail at top of Newel Fig. 32 Set out and jointing of strings and newels ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 23 .HOUSING STRING / NEWEL POST SET OUT The newel posts are positioned to allow the face of the bottom riser and the face of the top riser to be in line with the centre of the newel post. The ends of the strings are double tenoned. and morticed into the newel posts. or have a full width tenon.

They may be of solid timber sections or be built-up in laminations. Fig.STAIR BUILDING HANDRAILS/NEWELS/BALUSTERS There are many different profiles available for handrails. newel posts and balusters. Handrail edges are rounded to prevent sharp edges and splintering. 34 Newel posts and balusters 24 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . 33 Typical handrail profiles Newel Posts Balusters Fig.

HOUSING OPEN RISER STAIRS Open riser stairs are more typically used in external situations and are constructed of durable hardwoods or treated pine timbers. The strings are housed to take treads and prevented from spreading with the use of threaded booker rods. or paving.CARPENTRY . 35 Section through open riser stairs Horn for fixing Booker rod tension bolts Concrete pads Fig. Some suitable Class 1 durability timbers for external stair use. which may be fully exposed or in contact with the ground.0m above the finished ground level. as per AS 1684—Part 2. 36 Isometric view of completed external stairs ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 25 . is more than 1. are as follows:               Treated radiata pine Coastal grey box Grey gum Forest red gum Red and grey ironbark Messmate Tallowwood Note: Handrails for decks and external stairs are not required unless the top of the landing. or any tread. Rise of step Max 125mm space Booker rod tension bolts Ground level Rise of step Dowel into concrete pad Fig.

STAIR BUILDING OPEN RISER STAIRS . 37 Use of galvanised metal fixing plates 26 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . or shoes cast into a concrete pad at the bottom of the strings. 125mm 12mm bolt through strings (tension rods) Fixing plate SECTION . and a timber horn at the top of each tread.Alternative fixing Traditionally. Fixing plate String Tread Max. external stairs are fixed using a non-corrosive dowel into a concrete pad. at the bottom of each string. an alternative method of fixing would be to use galvanised metal fixing plates. However. and galvanised metal fixing plates bolted between the top of the strings and ends of floor joists.CLOSED STRING OPEN RISER STAIR ISOMETRIC VIEW Fig.

38 Typical open riser flight of stairs onto a verandah 125mm max Threaded Booker rod Preferred 20mm overlap TREADS . The treads may be housed through to the string top edge or they may be housed to take the end section of the tread only. although connection between the newels and strings tends to vary.Stop housed Fig. The balustrade is normally simpler in design. Handrail Verandah balustrade Guard rail Verandah deck Landing deck Threaded Booker rods Bolted connections Galv. 39 Optional fitting of treads ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 27 .CARPENTRY . consisting of a handrail. guard rail and newels.Through housed TREADS . END ELEVATION ELEVATION Threaded booker rod Through housed treads PLAN Fig. Post shoes G.L.HOUSING CONSTRUCTING OPEN RISER STAIRS Open riser stairs are measured up and constructed in a similar way to closed riser stairs.

Note: Where the going of flight is not restricted. then multiplied by the number of treads to obtain the flight going. Going = 285mm) STEP 2 Calculate the length of the string using the following formula: Length of String = √ (Ri seoff l i ght) ² + ( Going of flight + One going of step)² = √ 1. 40 Obtaining rise and going of flight 1. (Calculate going of flight if required) Proposed stairs 1020 (Rise of flight) Landing and newel posts 1425 (Going of flight)     Rise of flight Fig. An allowance of one (1) step going is added to the going of flight to allow for fitting and finishing of the strings. where they are not mortice and tenoned into the newel posts.020m. 964 = Therefore.991m Order 2/ 2. 28 1.710² = √ 1. 040+2.STAIR BUILDING CALCULATION OF STRING LENGTH Calculation of string length is similar to the calculation of a common rafter. STEP 1 Check and record measurements for the rise and going of flight. calculation of a suitable step going will have to be calculated. to suit the slope relationship formula (2R + G). 020² + 1.     Going of flight = 1. 924 = √ 3. A triangle is formed by the rise of flight.1 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division = . the going of flight and the hypotenuse or string length.425m ( Rise = 170mm.

688.800 + 0.476m Order .50 = $222.160 Height of Risers: = 1.311)² √ 2.16 + 222.50/m.550 = 9. No. and Width of flight = 1500mm.91 Note: Cost of material includes GST ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 29 .800 = 311mm 9 Check: = (2R + G) = between 550 to 700 = 310 + 311 = 621mm OK! Length of String: = √ (Ri seoff l i ght) ² + ( Going of flight + One going of step)² √( 1.9/ 1.800m.6) = 7.5) = 13. Going of flight (restricted) = 2.5 Cost: = Strings . therefore 9 Length of Goings: = 2. of Risers: = 1.550m.(2 x 3.(3 x 4. 678 √12.HOUSING CALCULATION OF STAIR QUANTITIES Example 1: SINGLE OPEN RISER FLIGHT Calculate the quantity and cost of dressed tallowwood required to construct a single flight of stairs with open risers.75 = $314.6 Treads . when: Specification: Rise of flight = 1.5 x $16.550 = 155mm 10 No. say 10 risers 0.2/ 3.CARPENTRY . String material o/o 250 x 50 DAR tallowwood @ $12. Rise of step to be around 160mm.250 x 50 DAR Tallowwood .2 x $12. 403+9.6 Timber Order: = Strings .80/m. Treads o/o 325 x 50 DAR tallowwood @ $16.5 or 3/ 4. 550) ² + ( 2. of Goings: = (One less than rises).80 = $92.325 x 50 DAR Tallowwood .2/ 3.16 Treads . 081 3.75 Total Cost: = 92.

30/m. String material o/o 250 x 50 DAR tallowwood @ $12.85/m.STAIR BUILDING Example 2: SINGLE OPEN RISER FLIGHT WITH BALUSTRADE Calculate the quantity and cost of dressed tallowwood required to construct a single flight of stairs with open risers. handrails and guard rails. Guard rail o/o 75 x 50 DAR tallowwood @ $3. 41 Open riser flight with balustrade No.90/m. 1000 (length and width of landing) 1425 (Going of flight) Fig. Size of landing = 1000 x 1000mm.80/m.020m. Handrail o/o 125 x 38 DAR tallowwood @ $5. therefore 5 Length of Goings: = 1. Rise of step to be 170mm.170 No. including newel posts. Treads o/o 300 x 38 DAR tallowwood @ $11. and Newel posts o/o 100 x 100 DAR tallowwood @ $7. Going of step to be 285mm. Width of flight = 1000mm.020 = say 6 risers @ 170mm high 0. Going of flight (determined) = 1. of Risers: = 1.425 = 285mm 5 Check: = (2R + G) = between 550 to 700 340+ 285 = 625mm 30 OK! ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division .425m.60/m. of Goings: = (One less than rises). when: Specification: 1020 (Rise of flight) 1000 (Height of handrail) Rise of flight = 1.

5.16 + 22.85 = $42.1) = 5. 020² + 1.250 x 50 DAR Tallowwood .000 + 1.2/ 2.1/ 3.170 = 1.38 Newel posts .1) = 4.2 x $3.80 = $53.3 + 2.39 = $193.26 + 16.1/ 3.100 x 100 DAR Tallowwood .300 x 38 DAR Tallowwood .5/ 1.76 + 59.1 Landing .0 or 1/ 5.710² √ 3.3.26 Guard rail .2/ 2.2 Order .75 x 50 DAR Tallowwood . say 1/ 1.710² √ 1.1 Newel posts .4 x $7.1 x $11.1 Order .1 Cost: = Strings .(3.2/ 2.170.125 x 38 DAR Tallowwood . 1.1 Timber Order: = Strings .1 Guard rail .2/ 2.76 Treads .1 Handrail .30 = $22.1 Length of String: = = = = = Treads: = Order .2 x $5. 964 1.(2 x 2.020 = 2.1 Handrail: = Stairs .1/ 5.000 + (1 rise) 0.1 Guard rail: = (allow same as for handrails).(same as string).2/ 2. 1/ 2.1 Newel posts: = (allow 2 for landing). 1.(2 x 2.60 = $59.38 + 42.3.39 Total Cost: = 53.95 Note: Cost of material includes GST ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 31 . say 1/ 2.HOUSING √ (Ri seoff l i ght) ² + ( Going of flight + One going of step)² √ 1.2 sides at 100mm.(2 x 2.16 Handrail .CARPENTRY .020.1) = 4.90 = $16. 020² + 1.991m Order . say 2/ 2.2 x $12.1 Treads .1 (allow 1 for stairs).2/ 2.1) = 4. say 1/ 2. 1/ 2. Order .

04/m Note: Balustrade required on one side only and balusters are spaced at approx.around 170mm Strings .2.STAIR BUILDING Example 3: SINGLE CLOSED RISER FLIGHT WITH BALUSTRADE Calculate the quantity and cost of dressed Meranti required to construct a single flight of stairs with closed risers. 135mm centres to maintain the 125mm max.100m Handrails . space between balusters (BCA requirement).325 x 38 DAR Meranti (joined) @ $38.o/o 100 x 75 moulded Meranti @ $35.15/m Treads .100 x 75 DAR Meranti @ $28.75/m Newel posts .800m Rise of step .1. 135 1120 2500 770 400 1000 40 Specification: 3800 Fig.500m Going of flight (restricted) .16/m Nosing .300 x 50 DAR Meranti @ $47.175 x 25 DAR Meranti @ $10.20mm Width of stairs .3. handrails and balusters. when: Rise of flight . including newel posts. 42 Detail of closed riser stairs 32 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division .30 x 30 DAR Meranti @ $8.00/m Riser boards .28/m Balusters .

560 Order .3 Newel posts: = 1.1/ 4. 573 √22. 823 4.71.HOUSING No. 1/ 2.770 long) Order .2/ 4.2 = 29 .170 Height of Risers: = 2.8 Balusters: = (3.4 Risers: = 15/ 1.777m Order .3. 1/ 4.4.135 = 28.800 = 271mm 14 Check: = (2R + G) = between 550 to 700 = 334 + 271 = 605mm OK! Length of String: = √ (Ri seoff l i ght) ² + ( Going of flight + One going of step)² √( 2. 500) ² + ( 3.8 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 33 .100 Order .2 = 27 (@ 0.148 . of Risers: = 2.7 Handrail: = (allow same length as string) Order .CARPENTRY .100 Order .800 + 0. of Goings: = (One less than rises). say 15 risers 0.3/ 5.500 = 167mm 15 No.271)² √ 6.4/ 3.2) 0. therefore 14 Length of Goings: = 3.1/ 2.120 = 2. 250+16.5/ 3.8 Treads: = 14/ 1.500 = 14.800 .440 + 1.

64 Treads .28 = $76.64 Newel posts .7 Handrail .6 x $38.75 = $171.4.3.3/ 5.(5 x 3.o/o 100 x 75 moulded Meranti .3 Newel posts .80 + 167.(2 x 4. 1/ 2.8 Treads .64 + 592.36 + 171.4) + 4.4 Riser boards .60 + 168.16 = $167.300 x 50 DAR Meranti .04 = $168.5 x $10.(3 x 5.6 x $47. 1/ 4.8) = 9.5/ 3.60 Balusters .30 x 30 DAR Meranti .84 = $1629.8 Cost: = Strings .175 x 25 DAR Meranti .8 = 21.100 x 75 DAR Meranti .15 = $452.2.STAIR BUILDING Timber Order: = Strings .3) + 2.( 4 x 3.0 x $8.36 Handrail .80 Riser boards .1/ 2.4.64 + 76.84 Total Cost: = 452.4 = 15.8 Balusters .8 x $35.325 x 38 DAR Meranti (joined) .00 = $592.3) = 16.88 Note: Cost of material includes GST 34 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division .1/ 4.7 x $28.4/ 3.2/ 4.

which fold up flush with the ceiling and are easily pulled down when required. Bottom step podium Fig.CARPENTRY . which are pre-fabricated or modular in design. when the stairs are fully exposed. which are simply attached to timber strings. similar to those produced by BHP and known as “Kwi k -s t e p”. Timber treads are bolted through the brackets on the underside. Fixing Bracket.HOUSING PATENT-TYPE STAIRS There are patent-types of stairs available. The brackets should be painted for protection from the weather. Newel post bracket. These brackets are nail-fixed on the inside of the string with galvanised roofing nails. Other types include metal modular brackets. The angle is the same for all stairs and the rise may be adjusted to suit by sliding the brackets down the string. Attic ladders are available. 43 Patent-type modular steps ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 35 .

which has been threaded for its full length to allow fixing nuts to be placed at any position. timber. Catwalk: Also known as a Crawlboard. used mainly for maintenance access to plant and equipment. i.e. These rods are commonly used as tensioning rods to hold open-riser stair strings tightly together and prevent spreading. Access is normally provided via a fold down Attic ladder. It is mainly used on external stair treads and landings.STAIR BUILDING GLOSSARY OF TERMS Aesthetic: This refers to the appearance of an object or its finish.Themi ddl ewi nde ri sc ommonl yr e f e r r e dt oa sa“ Ki t e wi nde r ” . Booker rod: This is a mild steel or brass rod. GST: This stands for Goods and Services Tax. Winders: These are tapered or triangular-shaped treads formed where the stairs are continuous around a corner to negate the requirement of a l a ndi ng . it is a narrow. which is a new government tax added to the value of goods. Chequer(ed): This refers to the non-slip pattern formed on steel or cast-iron plate. elevated walkway within or above a building or structure. which was introduced in July 2000. 36 ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division . Spiral: This is a geometric shape made up of a continuous curved line formed by wrapping around a solid or imaginary cylinder. Attic: This is an accessible area inside a roof space used for storage.

CARPENTRY . Peterson.S. The Australian Owner Builders Manual. Caloundra. Naremburn. NSW. C. Standard Publishing Co. The Australian Carpenter and Joiner –Volume 1. Fifth edition 1985. A. Slatyer. and E. Allan. VIDEOS Construction and Transport Division. Fifth Edition. QLD. Bloomfield. GPO Box 9839 Canberra. First Edition 1958. Pinedale press. BCA (Building Code of Australia). Ma nuf a c t ur e r ’ sors uppl i e r sbr oc hur e sf orpa t e nt -type stairs. Staines. Yagoona. ACT. Staircases—measuring up (CTV23) available from Resource Distribution.. Brown and H. Revised by B. 1999. F. 1986. Pty Ltd.HOUSING FURTHER READING Australian Building Codes Board. ©TAFE NSW Construction and Transport Division 37 .