Building Tips

How Many Steps Are In a Flight of Stairs?

how many steps in a flight of stairs

If you have ever been involved in building a staircase, you have probably asked the question: How many steps are in a flight of stairs? In this article, we’re going to answer that question and tell you why it can vary based on a few different factors. Having designed and built several staircases myself, I can tell you that it is extremely important to do it right and according to your local building codes.

What is a Flight of Stairs?

A flight of stairs is defined as two or more steps linked together by common risers and treads. This means that even if your staircase is not continuous (i.e., it has landings or turns), it can still be considered a single flight if all the steps are connected structurally. Generally speaking, most flights of stairs consist of 10 to 12 steps.

Why Does The Number Of Steps Vary?

The exact number of steps in a single flight of stairs will vary based on several factors. This includes the height and depth of each step and the size and shape of the staircase itself. For example, if your staircase has smaller, more shallow steps, then there may be more than 12 steps in a single flight. But if your staircase has larger, deeper steps then there may only be 8-10 steps per flight.

Riser Height and Tread Depth

The riser is the vertical part of each step (the board that supports your feet), while the tread is the horizontal part (the board you walk on). The maximum height of risers in most areas is 7 ¾ inches, while tread depth must be between 9-11 inches. It’s important to understand that these dimensions are not fixed and may vary depending on local building codes. Most building codes also require each riser in a flight of steps to be the same height, except for the first and last. This helps prevent tripping as something is going up and down the stairs.

Other Building Code Requirements

Riser height and tread depth are important aspects to get right when building a flight of stairs. But there are other building code requirements that are just as important.


It’s also important to install guardrails along all open sides of a staircase to prevent falls. These guardrails should be at least 36 inches high. And they cannot have any gaps larger than 4 inches wide between balusters or other elements that make up the railing system. Also, handrails should also meet specific criteria based on their angle and design. For example, most building codes require handrails with a circular cross-section to have a diameter of between 1 ¼ – 2 ½ inches.

Headroom Clearance

Headroom clearance refers to the distance from the top of any tread to the bottom of any ceiling above it. This distance must be at least 6 feet 8 inches (measured from the edge of the nosing) for interior staircases with closed risers. For stairs with open risers or exterior stairs with closed risers, it must be 6 feet 6 inches. This requirement helps ensure there is enough space for people to use stairs safely without having to duck or stoop down as they climb them.

Another important factor when in comes to stairs is width. We cover this in another article if you are wondering how wide stairs should be.

To recap, how many steps in a flight of stairs will depend on several factors such as step size/shape and local building codes. Generally speaking though, most flights contain 10-12 stairs each. However, this can vary depending on individual building characteristics. So it’s important to check with your local building department before starting on any major renovating projects involving staircases!

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