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ANSWERED on Sat 31 Oct 2009 - 6:41 pm UTC by davidsarokin

Question: What is the RISE and the RUN of a "normal" stair?

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Tue 27 Oct 2009 - 5:55 pm UTC

Question

loneislander
Customer

I would like to know what is a "normal" stair and if it varies in different parts of the world.  To me 6.75" high with a 12" tread is fairly normal.  My father used to say "for a stair to ~feel~ right, twice the rise plus the run should be under 24 inches" and I would like to know if there are other rules of thumb such as that.

I would the like the answerer to define the terms of reference to some extent but I need to have some idea what the bell-curve is for so-called "normal" stair dimensions (i.e, weather a 5, 6, 7, or 8 inch rise is the majority)

If "normal" varies from country to country or if it does over different periods of history that info would be a plus.

 
 

Tue 27 Oct 2009 - 6:28 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Request for clarification

David Sarokin
Researcher

loneislander,

Your question is either an easy one to answer, or incredibly difficult...I'm not sure.

In terms of building standards, home construction has been moving towards international standards for some time now.  Standards for stairway construction are given a nice visual presenation in this document:

http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20Stair%20IRC%20SCREEN.pdf
Visual Interpretation Of The International Residential Code -- Stair Building


The rise and run of an acceptable stair is clearly laid out.  So...if that's the answer you're looking for, then this was, in fact, relatively easy.

However, if you're truly looking for bell curves on stair construction throughout history, and in different countries, then that's a lot more complex, and may not even be readily answerable.  Before I go down that path, though, I wanted to check with you to clarify just what type of information you're seeking.

Let me know if the international standards information is what you needed, of if there's something more I can do for you on this.

Thanks,

David

 

Tue 27 Oct 2009 - 6:32 pm UTC

Question clarification

loneislander
Customer

I'm interested in what's actually out there.  National (or int'l) standards would be part of the 'stair picture'.

 

Tue 27 Oct 2009 - 8:06 pm UTC

Comment

probo
User

Hi Loneislander

I live in the UK in a house that was built in 1908.

I've just measured my stairs which has 14 steps of approx 7½"

I don't know of any standards here or anywhere else.

Probo

 

Tue 27 Oct 2009 - 8:22 pm UTC

Comment

steph
User

Wow, Bryan,

Your house is almost as old as you are...heheheh.

Carmen :)

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 7:20 am UTC

Comment

probo
User

Oh dear, Carmen

This is one of those days when I wish that we had let the French have Canada.

Bryan

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 1:11 pm UTC

Comment

steph
User

Just kidding, Bryan...LOL

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 1:25 pm UTC

Comment

myoarin
User

Hi Loneislander,

The German "Deutsche Industrie Norm" (DIN) covers almost everything one can think to standardize  - not just paper dimensions -  and is respected/used internationally. 

The DIN 18065 for stairways is being revised, probably minimally with regards to your question.  I found a company's website that provides the (new?) definitions for rise and tread sizes in the blue table: 
http://www.treppenmeister.com/de/DIN18065-Treppentechnik

Column 1:  type of building:  dwellings with max. 2 apartments;
                              other buildings; all buildings
Column 2:  type of stairs:  to living quarters; to basements not lived in;
                            to attics not lived in; other stairs
                            required by building code; those not required
                            by code
Column 3:  Usable width of stairs, min (in cm)
Column 4:  Rise, max (in cm) (footnote 2: but not <14 cm
Column 5:  Depth of tread, min (in cm) (footnote 3: but not >37 cm)

The table shows that public buildings and apartment houses must have lower rises than private dwellings and larger treads.
The other footnotes are about minimum treads for stairs where the tread extends under the next higher step.  (I'm sure my 55 year old stairs don't conform.)

I would be very surprised if DIN 18065 did not also include the details on the Stair Manufacturers' Assoc. site.  I know from experience that it calls for very close tolerances in the rises between floors or landings, i.e., one can't have a final bigger or smaller step at the end of a flight to fit a standard set of stairs in a building with an odd distance between floors.

Just as an aside, I was shown in Edinburgh that in some old buildings the third or fourth step from the entrance was higher than the others to cause unknowing visitors to stumble  - an early alarm system.

Regards, Myoarin

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 3:20 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Comment

mathtalk
Researcher

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is pretty well known for its steep (and narrow) stairways.  Some pictures can be found at Flickr:

[Flickr -- Steep Amsterdam Stairs]
http://www.flickr.com/photos/steveportigal/3557076600/

A connection to land scarcity and European norms of family housing seems clear enough in this residential setting.

regards, mathtalk

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 3:34 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Request for clarification

David Sarokin
Researcher

From what I can see, there isn't very much in the literature on typical real-world stair dimensions.  Most of what exists stems from analyses of accidents. 

There is a pretty good overview of current literature and the history of stair design in this paper:

http://repository.tudelft.nl/assets/uuid:5662d3ef-86bf-4ac2-8384-c35625df1813/Koutamanis_1996_4.content.pdf
Parametric design of stairs

especially in Section 2 of the paper. 

Also be sure to see the numerous comments (above) made here by mathtalk and others, as there's some interesting observations to be had.

David

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 4:44 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Request for clarification

David Sarokin
Researcher

And just for kicks, some REALLY steep stairs:

http://slashninja.com/awesomely-steep-stairs/

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 5:19 pm UTC

Comment

probo
User

Wow, David, I bet those steps don't meet with the German DIN standards.

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 7:17 pm UTC

Question clarification

loneislander
Customer

I was hoping there was some kind of social research that talked about stairs from some kind of objective view of what existed.  I'll wait a few more days to see if someone keys in on that in particular but otherwise I can (reasonably safely) conclude that: 1) stairs are pretty much the same the world over and 2) for a few hundred years there has been some suggestion that two times the rise plus the run of a stair should be approximately the length of a normal walking pace (presumably for an average person).

If that's the case, and 7 inches seems to be in the vicinity of a "normal" rise, then the demographics related to average height should produce an approximate of the average stride length and that gets me back to where I want to be.

The destination of this information is the design of a device that an be fine-tuned to work better in places where the average step differs from North American code by more than three quarters of an inch, but would still work if the variance was as much as an inch more than that.  What I want to know is how adjustable, if at all, should I make the device in the first place.  If the answer is "not at all" I expect more efficient production when that stage comes.

I'll wait a few more days and if nothing pops up I call this one solved.  I am pleased with the input so far.

 

Wed 28 Oct 2009 - 7:24 pm UTC

Comment

loneislander
Customer

One more thing, the French ~have~ Canada :)

 

Thu 29 Oct 2009 - 6:04 am UTC

Comment

probo
User

Hi, Loneislander

I perhaps should explain that Carmen (Steph) and I are old mates going back to 2002.

We first met through Google Answers, the foreunner of this site, which was noteworthy for its banter among many users.

In my opinion, Carmen is one of the best things ever to come out of Canada, a place that I have often visited but - alas - without ever meeting this lovely lady.

Maybe some day?

Bryan

 

Thu 29 Oct 2009 - 12:38 pm UTC

Comment

myoarin
User

Bryan,

You forgot that Carmen was born in Germany  - the source of many of the "best things" of that gender.

Loneislander,

Here is another article that mentions 2 to 1 being traditional, on page 104:  http://www.eupjournals.com/doi/pdfplus/10.3366/arch.2007.18.1.99

I live in Europe and have been to the Middle East and Central and SE Asia.  From my experience, 20th century stairs everywhere conform pretty much to the the US and DIN dimensions  - as do those in romanesque and gothic structures.  Roman and Moghul stairs often have higher risers, but that isn't of interest for your project.

I think David's first posting really answers your question  - everything else here just confirming that that a +/-7 inch rise is the norm.

Myo

 

Sat 31 Oct 2009 - 5:26 pm UTC

Comment

loneislander
Customer

Probo,

We fear letting the best "out" of Canada for fear we won't get it back.  I very much appreciate all of you and your banter.  I've only been around uclue for a few weeks and already it feels like a community.

You provide a service to the pathologically curious -- terminally lazy (me).  I've always asked questions of experts when I've had the chance and I've long wished that I could offer them something in exchange.  Until uclue there hasn't been a socially acceptable way of doing that  -- which has often left me not getting answers to questions I've long wanted answered.

I maintain a number of simultaneous research projects some of which are personal curiosities and some of which are commercial endeavors.  (At some point in the near future I expect to be asking, "Who claims to be the lowest cost patent lawyer in the US?")

All the best...

 

Sat 31 Oct 2009 - 5:32 pm UTC

Question clarification

loneislander
Customer

Ok, where's the "pay" button?  How do I pay this and close it... All I see is "clarify" "cancel" and "add comment" at the bottom and pretty much the same thing at the top?

Why can't software be written with a little intuitiveness once in a while!

Seriously, I don't see, on the current page, a place to close this question, unless I want to cancel it and not pay.  Why?!  I'm guessing the answer is that I have to navigate to another part of this web site and on principle I think I shouldn't have to.  Every comment by every question answerer should have a "pay this answer" button so that I can pay two or three different answers if I like them.  If "pay this answer" is not acceptable, surely a "tip this guy" would make sense.

 

Sat 31 Oct 2009 - 6:41 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer

David Sarokin
Researcher

I'm glad you got the information you needed here.

But actually, Uclue isn't designed with a pay button because payment happens automatically once a formal answer is posted (as I'm doing now) rather than a series of clarifications.

Thanks again for an unexpectedly interesting topic. 

David

 
 

Sat 31 Oct 2009 - 7:04 pm UTC

Comment

probo
User

Please don't worry, Loneislander, we already have lots of Canadians here in the UK but we would only plan to keep them if they were really good at cricket or soccer.

This is highly unlikely considering that Canadians only play ice hockey.

Probo

 

Sat 31 Oct 2009 - 9:18 pm UTC

Comment

myoarin
User

"... considering that Canadians only play ice hockey."

But maybe Great Britain could/should recruit and naturalise a team of Canadians to play.  Even those who don't make Team Canada could probably improve on this record:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Britain_men%27s_national_ice_hockey_team#Olympic_record

 

Sun 1 Nov 2009 - 1:02 am UTC

Accepted and rated

loneislander
Customer

Ok, "accept and rate this answer" is chosen by you(s) when you 'dare' post an official answer.

I guess I'm a grumpy-gus but I'd make a change or two.

Anyway, it arrived in my feeble gray cells that it might be worth knowing the rise and run of typical airplane steps -- I'm pretty sure they are shorter than normal right?

 

Sun 1 Nov 2009 - 1:04 am UTC

Accepted and rated

loneislander
Customer

 

Sun 1 Nov 2009 - 2:03 am UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer clarification

David Sarokin
Researcher

Thank you.

I looked for specs on airline stairs, but the information is surprisingly elusive.  The guidance and specifications are contained in these industry standards:

http://www.sae.org/technical/standards/ARP1247C
General Requirements for Aerospace Ground Support Equipment Motorized and Nonmotorized


but do not appear to be available short of purchasing the standards themselves. 


Hope that's a bit of a help, though.

David

 

Sun 1 Nov 2009 - 6:50 am UTC

Comment

probo
User

Myo

The problem in the UK is not a shortage of potentially great Ice Hockey players (we could always import them from South Africa, the Caribbean or wherever) but a shortage of ice. This is much more difficult to import.

Funnily enough, I met a young woman at my local station yesterday when we were both going up to London and she told me she was going to Streatham so she could do some ice skating.

Evidently, the Brighton Ice Rink (which my daughters once used) has been closed.

Bryo

 

Sun 1 Nov 2009 - 11:50 am UTC

Comment

myoarin
User

Bryan, I thought you did the Guardian crossword on the train to London.
Oh, I forgot, that only takes twenty minutes.

About those airplane stairs, Loneislander, if you mean the ones lowered from the planes, themselves, my experience and images of them suggest that they have higher risers, here, for example, steeper than 45°: 
http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-366387-airplane-stairs.php

I also found this, which suggests that there doesn't seem to be sugnificant regulation of them.
http://www.swlearning.com/blaw/cases/torts/0609_torts_02.html

In more detail here:
http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=562b2c7b-842a-4d46-97e2-4971afc8e10f

(David may correct my interpretation of the above.)


If you are asking about the "roll/drive-up" stairs at airports, again, my experience is that they are usually steeper than standard stairs.  I also tried to calculate what the maximum riser could be for a couple of these, based on images  - counting the steps -  and the specifics about the equipment.  Click on "passanger stairs" on this site and further:
http://www.omegaaviation.com/index.html

(I counted 18 steps on the Stinar" stairs and 13 for the "Wollard".  When raised to max. doorsill height, the risers are certain more than 7.5 in.)

Here is another, 16 steps: 
https://www.aerospecialties.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=644

The risers, are of course, less high when the stairs are not raised to max. height.

Myo

 

Mon 2 Nov 2009 - 11:08 am UTC

Comment

probo
User

Hey, look at what I've just found!

http://www.the-wooden-hill-company.co.uk/staircase-building-regulations-c89.html

I just Googled 'staircase makers' and there it was.

Probo

 

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