View Full Version : when calculating a stair pitch

11-01-2011, 05:38 PM
I know how to do this, with my construction calculator. My question is do you deduct the stair nose from the "run" calculation? ie: if your stair tread is 12", and the nose is 1", do you then enter 11" as the run?

What about stairs with carpets when doing your measurements? I often run into this, (last week) it's interesting because sometiimes the smooth edge is quite close to the wall, other stairs not so much. This affects the measurement.
Do you just take an average in this case? (when measuring for total rise and also the run's - risers are also carpeted)

I'd love to tear out the carpet, but when the client is in a brand new condo for four days... :D they won't take kindly to me ripping the carpet back.

Jim Baldwin
11-01-2011, 07:23 PM
Yes, the nosing is irrelevant. The unit rise and run is the actual tread-cut irrespective of the nosing or any "kickback" risers.

In order to find the pitch of a stair which lies buried under carpet, I usually just lay a long level or straight edge across the carpeted nosing line of the stair and then use an angle finder to determine the pitch (a smart level is to easy). In fact, this is actually a better way to determine the average pitch of any stair since individual tread cuts can vary (construction carpenters have been known to use their big crayons to layout stair stringers).

11-02-2011, 09:35 AM
Thanks Jim, ya in one place earlier this year I discovered the nosing varied by 7/8". Most were within 1/8", but ?

I guess I'll just use a combination of methods. The one that has worked for me in the past is the method that Norm Yeager wrote about in ThisIsCarpentry. Fast and accurate! but I also want to become more efficient, and getting the correct pitch would save me some work.

Generally the stair nosing throws things off a bit ie: when laying the 1x12 on the stairs to begin the scribing. I find that when it's all done, I need to use a chalk line to mark the top of the skirt board- ie: 3" above the tread, top stair and bottom stair.

Then take it out and cut. If I had the correct pitch the first time out, I could eliminate that step, I think! I'm going to get some scrap and try it at home here on my own stairs.

Sometimes I have a dream that I will get a job fitting stair skirting to un-finished stairs, that have been properly framed 1" away from the wall :D and the drywall has been properly screwed, so that it doesn't move when I do my install.
I've actually seen that! I keep some drywall screws in my kit just for this situation.

Jim Baldwin
11-02-2011, 10:34 AM
"Properly framed stairs" are best when the framing carpenters had nothing to do with their construction and trim skirt boards are not just "trim" but part of the stair structure (you already know that). You wouldn't have a job remodeling stairs if more stairs were built like that. Sounds like you're having fun...

11-02-2011, 02:32 PM
Amen to that Jim

11-02-2011, 05:40 PM
My real problem is that I absolutely love doing trim work LOL

11-02-2011, 06:55 PM
My real problem is that I absolutely love doing trim work LOL

Try talking people into letting you do real stairs. It's easy enough, and would be another great niche to work in. Depending on the scope of trim work to be done, it can be a nice upgrade, and at times can be faster than trying to re-use the old hackneyed stairs...