Stairway Vocabulary You Might Need When Building SketchUp Models

By Aidan Chopra

You can make stairs probably a million different ways in SketchUp. SketchUp’s Dynamic Components have some pretty neat implications for models that need stairs. A so-called dynamic stair component automatically adds or subtracts individual steps as you make it bigger or smaller with the Scale tool. Depending on what you want to accomplish, a premade dynamic stair component may save you a bunch of time.

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Here’s some simple stairway vocabulary, just in case you need it:

  • Rise and run: The rise is the total distance your staircase needs to climb. If the vertical distance from your first floor to your second (your floor-to-floor distance) is 10 feet, that’s your rise. The run is the total horizontal distance of your staircase. A set of stairs with a big rise and a small run would be really steep.

  • Tread: A tread is an individual step — the part of the staircase you step on. When someone refers to the size of a tread, he’s talking about the depth — the distance from the front to the back of the tread. Typically, this is anywhere from 9 to 24 inches, but treads of 10 to 12 inches are most comfortable to walk on.

  • Riser: The riser is the part of the step that connects each tread in the vertical direction. Risers are usually about 5 to 7 inches high, but that depends on your building. Not all staircases have actual risers (think of steps with gaps between treads), but they all have a riser height.

  • Landing: A landing is a platform somewhere around the middle of a set of stairs. Landings are necessary in real life, but modeling them can be a pain; figuring out staircases with landings is definitely more complicated. Sometimes, modeling a landing is easier if you think of it as a really big step.