So you’ve finally finished building your deck, but you can’t move forward and enjoy its benefits until those stair railings are installed. While there’s no stopping you and your family from setting up a spot to relax in the area, the safety and peace of mind that rails offer is beyond question.
As stairs have unique constructions, taking the right measurements for the railings is crucial. To help you move forward on your DIY project, we’ve laid out five easy-to-follow steps in measuring stair rails. Better yet, consult a professional builder about the dimensions to ensure that everything is laid out correctly.
Understanding the Rails
To measure and build your stair rails accurately, you should know the basic terminologies used during construction to prevent miscommunication. It is essential to understand what the following terms refer to when you start taking measurements:
- Handrails: This is the part where the hand rests when using the rails. It is required by the Toronto building code (or any other code, for that matter) and should be in line with height, load, and grasp guidelines.
- Spindles or balusters: The vertical elements of the railings are balusters/spindles. They are installed for safety and strength purposes, but you can choose based on aesthetics, too.
- Balustrade: This refers to the entire frame that includes both the balusters and the handrails.
- Newel posts: This is the vertical post that supports handrails, also called the support column or central pole.
- Tread: This is where your foot goes when you use the stairs. It is composed of the horizontal, top part of steps.
- Rise and risers: A rise is the vertical distance between two steps, while a riser is the vertical element that’s found between the floor and first tread (or two treads).
- Nosing: This refers to the exterior, projecting edge of a tread.
- Step: This is riser and tread combined.
- Landing: This is the area that’s found between two flights of stairs.
- Flight: A flight refers to a continuous series of steps.
- Stringer: This part refers to the sloped portion of the structure that supports the stair system. It can be open or closed.
- Winder: When your stairs don’t have a landing, winders can be installed when you want to change a stair’s direction.
How To Measure for Stair Railings
Because stair designs are unique to each house or building, taking the correct measurements is necessary to its successful completion. It’s best to have a professional builder measure and double-check dimensions for you before you proceed. If you want to go the DIY route throughout the project, then be sure to measure twice or thrice to verify distances to the last millimetre.
- Step 1: Measure the total height. The height refers to the vertical distance from the landing/floor at the bottom of the stairs to the top’s landing/floor.
- Step 2: Measure the total length. This is the horizontal distance from the nosing edge on the landing at the top to the nosing’s edge on the bottom staircase’s first tread.
- Step 3: Measure the nosing’s overall length. Do not confuse this part with the overall length’s dimensions. This one refers to the distance from the top edge of the landing’s nosing to the top edge of the first tread’s nosing.
- Step 4: Measure the finished tread’s depth. Take the length from the front to back of one completed tread.
- Step 5: Measure the finished tread’s height. Take the riser’s height from the base tread until the tread of the stair above it.
Important note: Remember that to find the total dimensions of an entire handrail system, you need to know the numbers of treads and risers on the structure. Don’t forget to include the bottom floor’s riser in your count. Also, when finding out how many treads you have, count only finished ones. Do not include the landings or the floors.
Once you have all the necessary numbers, you can then move forward and start building your stairs. Taking the measurements on your stair railings yourself can get tricky quickly if you don’t have the background. While this seems very easy to do at first glance, the level of accuracy required is best left to the seasoned DIY builders or the professionals.
If you need help building your stairs or a construction professional’s advice, #company# can help get the work done easily and quickly. Our team of stair railing contractors is experienced with all types and designs of stairs for residential and commercial purposes. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 877-957-78-88 to book a free consultation.