The Copied Profile Method of Building Stairs in SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra

This method for modeling a staircase relies on using Push/Pull to create a 3D form from a 2D face. In a nutshell, draw the profile — the side view, sort of — of a single step and then copy as many steps as you need, create a single face, and extrude the whole thing into shape.

The first time you do this is breathtakingly satisfying — one of those “guaranteed to make you smile” SketchUp operations you’ll want to repeat for friends.

Follow these steps to make a staircase using the Copied Profile method:

  1. Start with a large, vertical face; make sure that it’s big enough for the flight of stairs you want to build.

    You’re going to end up pushing/pulling the whole shebang out of the side of this face, just so you know.

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  2. In the bottom corner of the face, draw the profile of a single step.

    You can use the Line tool to do this, though you may want to use an arc or two, depending on the level of detail you need.

  3. Select all the edges that make up your step profile.

    You can hold down the Shift key while clicking with the Select tool to add multiple entities to your selection.

  4. Make a copy of your step profile and place it above your first one.

  5. Type the number of steps you want to make, type x, and then press Enter.

    For example, if you wanted ten steps, you’d type 10x. This technique repeats the copy operation you just did by however many times you tell it to; the x after the number tells SketchUp to make copies.

  6. If you need to, draw an edge to make sure that all your step profiles are part of a single face.

  7. Push/pull the staircase face out to be the width you need it to be.

    This is the part that seems like magic to most folks.

This method of stairway building also works great in combination with the Follow Me tool. Follow Me is cool beans, all the way around.

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