Stairs with landings

Stairs with landings are very common when designing and building stairs. There are several reasons why you would need to add a landing, or series of landings, to your stair plan.

Deck with Landings
Deck stairs with landing

International Building Code states that a flight of stairs shall not have a vertical rise greater than 151 inches (3835 mm) between floors or landings.

Calculating Stairs with Landings

Sometimes the Total Height of your stairs exceeds the building code limitation and a landing is required. Or, you may want to break up a long run of stairs with a landing as a place to rest or to take in a particular view of a room or outdoor scene before continuing on.

Stair Landings
Multi-Level Deck using stairs with landings - Fairfax Station, Virginia (1987)

There are also situations where the slope of the terrain changes from point to point and a series of level walkways will be required between runs of stairs.

In the following sections, I will explain both scenarios in more detail. Please note that this page assumes you already know how to layout and cut stair stringers. If you need a refresher, read the building stairs tutorial.

Scenario 1 - Mid-Level Landing Between Floors

In this scenario, our design requires access to be built from a first floor landing to a second floor landing. A mid-level landing is required as per design specifications. The height of the second floor is 120 inches above the first floor, so the height of the mid-level landing would be 60 inches between floors. Use the Automatic Stair Calculator to calculate the rise and run of the upper and lower stringers. Enter 60 inches into the Total Rise [A] field. Change the Target Step Height [F] to be 7.50 inches. Click the Calculate button.

Note: The calculated results, shown below, is a screen capture from the Automatic Stair Calculator.

Stair Calculator Results

The Step Height [F] of each step is 7 1/2 inches, and the Tread Depth [B] of each step is 10 1/2 inches. In this design, the upper stair stringers and lower stair stringers are identical.

The horizontal positioning of the mid-level landing is determined by the number of treads, on the stair stringers, multiplied by the Tread Depth [B] of each step. In this case, it is 7 steps multiplied by 10.5, or 73 1/2 inches.

Stairs with Landings

When you are building stairs with a mid-level landing, the height should be exactly halfway between the upper and lower landings. Build the landing at the specified height, and distance from the upper and lower landings, and add the stringers as shown in the above drawing. For more information about building stairs with landings, visit building stairs and stair calculator.

Scenario 2 - Level landings (walkways) between stairs

In this scenario, the vertical height between the lower landing and the upper landing is the same 60 inches, but the horizontal distance between the two landings is too far for a 2x12 stringer (144 inches). A landing can be used to help span the distance.

To get started, the first step is to design a stair stringer with normal rises and runs. Open the stair calculator and enter 60 inches in the Total Rise [A] field and change the default value for Target Step Height [F] to 7.5 inches. Leave the rest of the settings at the default values, and press the Calculate button.

Note: The calculated results, shown below, is a screen capture from the Automatic Stair Calculator.

Stairs with Landings

The result is a seven-step stringer with Step Heights [F] being 7 1/2 inches, and Tread Depths [B] being 10 1/2 inches.

Stairs with Landings

To determine the height and length of the mid-level landing, just think of the landing as being one of the steps on the stringer above. If you are drawing this out on paper, or using a 3D modeling program, like Sketchup, make a copy of the above stringer and, on paper, connect one stringer to the upper landing (9 inches below the finished height**), and the duplicate stringer, to the lower landing (see the diagram below).

Stairs with Landings

You can locate the landing on any step along the stringer. The step you choose will determine the finished height of the landing, as well as the placement of this landing between the upper and lower landings. In this example, we placed the landing at the 5th step level. To determine the upper and lower stringers, you can layout the entire stringer (as it is shown above) and cut out the 5th step (as shown below), or layout the upper and lower stringers separately.

Stairs with Landings

Now that we know which step, along the stringer, the landing will be placed, we can determine the finished landing height (number of steps multiplied by the Step Height = 5 x 7.5" = 37.5"), and the horizontal distance from the lower landing (number of steps on the lower stringer multiplied by the Tread Depth = 4 x 10.5 = 42"), and the upper landing (number of steps on the stringer multiplied by the Tread Depth = 2 x 10.5 = 21").

Finally, you can calculate the length of the landing by subtracting the run of the lower stringers (42 inches) plus the run of the upper stringers (21 inches), from the overall span of the stair/landing combination (144 inches). So, the length of the mid-level landing is 144 - 63, or 81 inches.

Stairs with Landings

**Placement of the upper stringers 9 inches below the finished upper landing is done, so that when you add the 1 1/2 inch treads, the final step rise will be the same as the other steps (7 1/2 inches).

Stairs With Landings

When you are building stairs with landings, using either of these two scenarios, the step heights are exactly the same, regardless of the lengths of the landings.

If you have any comments or questions about building stairs with landings, don't hesitate to contact us for more information.

** Note: Building Code information was obtained from the 2018 International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings - Section 311 - MEANS OF EGRESS.

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