Delux Stairs Help

Using Delux Stairs

Adjusting the Unit Rise

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Unit Rise controls in Delux Stairs , "Stringer" screen

Since you cannot have a fractional step, in order to increase or decrease unit rise, you must add or remove an entire step. You do this by increasing or decreasing the "Treads, Risers" of the stairs. If you find yourself frequently changing the unit rise by adjusting the step number, you can adjust the target unit rise in the settings for Delux Stairs.

Adjusting the Unit Run

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Unit and Total Run controls in Delux Stairs , "Stringer" screen

The unit run can be adjusted by making modifications to the total run. Each change in the "Total Run" will result in an equal fractional change to each of the unit run. If you find yourself frequently changing the unit run by adjusting the total run, you can adjust the target unit run in the settings for .

Top Step Level

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To design a staircase where the top-most step is at the same level as the top landing, use Delux Stairs to make a normal staircase and make note of the resulting unit run. Then enter a new total rise to which you have added one unit run to. For example if you have an 8' 2" total rise, which should give you a 7" unit rise, enter a new total rise of 8' 2" + 7" or 8' 9".

Reading the numbers

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32~1/8+" is equivalent to 32~5/32"

Imperial numbers look like: 8' 5~3/4+" which would read, "Eight feet, five and three-quarter inches, cut long". The "~" mark separates the full inch from fractional inch numbers. The "+" and "-" signs at the end, if present, indicate "cut long" and "cut short" respectively. The "+" and "-" signs correspond to 132 of an inch.


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You can reset the "Total Run or the "Treads, Risers" to their default settings by clicking in the reset button to the left of the title. On the "Details" screen, reset by using the "Outdoor", "Concrete" or "Indoor" presets.

Changing Settings

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Customize preferred Unit rise, Unit Run and Headroom in Settings

Delux Stairs can be customized to create staircases that, by default, match your preferred measurements. For example if you typically build outdoor deck stairs with two 2 x 6" treads, 1/4" gaps, 1" risers, and 1" nosing, you can set Delux Stairs settings to always use 12" unit runs. You can also customize Unit Rises and headroom in the Delux Stairs Settings panel of the "Setting"; App on every iPhone

Metal Staircases

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Although the thickness of the stringer cannot be directly changed in Delux Stairs, the unit run and rise, total length, angles, and all other measurements are all still applicable assuming you are welding or bolting the step supports to a diagonal structure which is equivalent to a stringer.

Spiral and Winder Staircases

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Photo courtesy of Paul Dickson

Spiral and winder staircases are not supported at this time. Delux is considering adding spiral and winder features, so if these types of staircases are important to you, please leave feedback asking for that feature.

Prep and Measurement

Check platform Level

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Top and bottom landings should be level

Both the top and the bottom landing should be close to level. The maximum out-of-level the platforms can be is 3/8" over a istance of 12" (1 foot). Out-of-level more than 3/8" may require correction before stairs can be installed.

Measuring Total Rise

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Measure the height from surface of the top finished flooring to the surface of the bottom finished flooring. Use a piece of scrap as a stand-in if the flooring is not available. If there is no specific place where the stairs must end, estimate a line approximately 30° to the landing and measure to there. You can create a 30° gauge by cutting a 11~1/4" x 6~1/2" piece of scrap plywood diagonally.

For shorter stairs use a long level. For longer stairs, you can use a straight board with a level. A laser level is the easiest to use when working by yourself. Use a plumb-bob to measure the height from the bottom finished flooring to the level, board or laser dot.

Estimating Total Run

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Once you have the total rise entered into Delux Stairs, the app will give you an ideal total run, ideal unit run, suggested unit rise and suggested number of steps. If the bottom landing is closer or farther away, or if there are obstructions, walls or other issues Delux Stairs can be easily adjusted until the stair fit the space. Check with all applicable building codes before making significant changes to the suggested measurements.

Headroom Clearance

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Check for overhead clearance

The slider at the bottom of the headroom screen is used to check clearance for objects that may effect headroom, such as lights & overhangs. Use the slider to move the orange arrow to the proximity of the potential obstruction to determine if the proposed staircase will have enough headroom clearance.

You can fine-tune the orange arrow's position with the step buttons on either side of the slider to get the position precisely at the point of the potential obstruction. The measurement to the left of the slider is the distance offset from the top of the stairs while the measurement provided to the right of the slider it the distance from the bottom of the stairs.

The "Vert. Clearance" measurement at the top of the screen is from the floor at the point where the stairs touch down to the minimum headroom clearance at the point the orange arrow is positioned. Delux Stairs uses the floor rather than the pitch line because, presumably, the stairs have not been built at this stage. You can set your desired headroom clearance in Delux Stairs Settings.

Correcting for out-of-parallel

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Use a plywood template to verify level, plumb and parallel

Check the top and bottom platforms against each other to determine if they are out of parallel by cutting a template out of scrap plywood. Then mark the intersection of the left, center and right stringers to a line drawn parallel with the bottom platform on the plywood. Then, using Delux Stairs, create a staircase design for the left platform adjusting the total run to match the left mark. Make note of the unit runs. Then make another staircase with Delux Stairs with a total run matching the right mark.

If the difference between the unit runs are less than 3/8", you can adjust the gapping of each step so that the out-of-parallel is feathered out over the length of the staircase.


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Delux Stairs Landing "Platform Positions"

If a landing is desired, two or more separate staircases, each with the same angle or pitch are created.

Delux Stairs provides suggestions for the top edge of ideal platform positions in the left grey block in the "Blueprint" screen. For example, if you had a 56" stair with 11" unit runs, 7" unit rises, using the "Outdoor" preset for tread, risers and flooring, one possible landing would be 28" horizontally from the top platform to the back of the landing and 22" vertically from the top platform surface to the landing surface (refer to illustration.) The landing platform width should be at least the width of the stairs. The bottom stringers should have the same angle, pitch or slope as the top stairs fell (32.47°)

Wood Stringer: Grain

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Looking at end cut of the board

The wood used for stringers should have a tight grain pattern. Splitting at the ends, if it cannot be trimmed off, can often be aided by driving a few precautionary reinforcing screws through before installation. Checking along the mid-section, if it bisects the tread support, may require reinforcing screws before installation as well. Cupping (curl) and shake (vertical longitudinal splits) are typically not a concern.

Wood Stringer: Warp

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Sighting along length of board (top.) Viewed from side (bottom)

The wood used for stringers should be straight or have only a moderate crown (bow.) Twisted wood is not generally suitable for stringers.

Wood Stringer: Crown

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Looking at side of board

Identify and mark the crown or camber of the bow of the stringer lumber. All lumber bows to some extent; the crown is where the bow is pointing up. It is along the crown that you will cut out the steps. The longer the staircase, the more important this becomes.

Wood Stringer: Knots

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Avoid allowing knots in these areas

When drawing the stairs on the blank stringer, try to position the template so that there are as few knots as possible in the critical areas such as the throats (bottom point of the "V" cut into the stringer) or at the very beginning or end of the stringer.


Top Platform Build

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Elevation view of typical top landing attachment with header-board and "Top Stringer Mark"

All preparation to the top attachment including out-of-parallel or out-of-level correction, installation of hanger boards, cleats or ledger boards as needed, finished fascia if required (if the top riser is not to be installed), etc. should be completed before installation proceeds. The top stringer mark, from Delux Stairs' "Measurements" screen, where the top edge of all stringers will sit on the hanger board, should be clearly marked as this will be the consistent point of reference for all the proceeding work.

Stringer Template

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Use a plywood template to verify level, plumb and parallel

A final template from scrap or plywood should be made before the stringer is cut or welded. The final template is fully cut including each step.

If a cleat or kick board will be used as the bottom attachment, the template will have the cleat socket cut out. The template is then placed in each stringer position: outer left, internal, outer right, and each step is measured for plumb and level. Any required adjustments from one position to the next are noted on the template with the center position being considered the "zero point."

For example in a situation where the outer left stringer position on the slightly-out-of-level bottom platform is 3/8" lower than the right position, the template will be perfect in the center and note to trim 3/16" short on the right and leave 3/16" long on the left.

Outer Stringers

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Checking level first on top step, then middle, then bottom step

The first stringers to be cut are the outside stringers. Using the template and the notes on fine adjustment made in the last step, draw out then cut the outer left stringer and tack it into place. Again using the template, draw out the right stringer making the slight adjustments noted on the template. Even with the adjustments made, leave a little extra on the bottom of the right stringer.

Test fit the right stringers and measure the level between the stringers at least three positions: top, middle and bottom steps. Ideally the top will match, the middle will just be a hair off level and the bottom will be off by the extra amount. Trim the right to fit to that each step is level.

Inner Stringers

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Checking horizontal riser alignment. Bottom: Plan view of straightedge showing misalignment

With the outer stringers tacked into place, use the template to draw out the inner stringers. Leave an extra 1" on the top vertical cut and 1" on the bottom horizontal cut. Do not cut the cleat (kick board) sockets.

You will be trimming the interior stringers to fit. Set the first interior stringer in place and measure how much needs to be removed from the top vertical cut so that the riser on the top step is flush with the outside stringer's top riser. The straight-edge should touch the front of each top riser, outer and inner.

Once the top has been trimmed to match the outside stringers, begin measuring and trimming the horizontal bottom cut so that a straight-edge laid across the bottom unit run touches each of the stringers. Repeat with each additional inner stringer. Mark down which stringer is in which position.

Bottom attachment

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Elevation view of frame or subfloor attachment. Do not attach atop finished flooring.

A cleat or kick board is the most common and recommended manner to secure the bottom of the stringers. It is strongly recommended that you attach the stringers and kick board to the framing, concrete or sub-floor and not on top of the finished flooring; unless the finished flooring is concrete such as a concrete patio or garage.

Delux Stairs measurements assume you will attach to framing, concrete or sub-floor. Attaching to finished floor can cause slippage, rot and a maintenance or replacement nightmare.

Even with a cleat or kick board, joist hangers, saddle hangers or hurricane ties are recommended as the bottom connection takes much of the stair load. If attaching weather-exposed stairs to concrete, use rot-resistant wood for the cleat and trim a bit of clearance so the horizontal bottom of the stringer is not contacting the concrete.

Treads and Risers

For the strongest staircase, risers should extend down past the back of the treads or be firmly joined to the treads. In interior installations, fasten the risers to both the lower and upper tread as well as the stringer for added support. With exterior stairs, the risers still descend down the back of the treads. A 1/4" gap between the riser and tread for drainage and drying is usually a good idea.

Exterior Stair Tips

Wood Treads: Bark down

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Reduce splitting while aiding drainage

In exterior stairs most wooden treads should be attached so that the bark of the tree points down to provide drainage when it rains. In other words, the circular summer and winter growth rings should have the tree core pointing up (refer to illustration.) If using multiple thinner treads, select quarter-sawn lumber for the tread material. Some types of pressure treated woods, as well as some stains, paints or other surface treatments can result in wanting a "Bark Up" orientation. If you are using those materials, follow the manufactures suggestion.

Treads: Drip channel

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Prevent flow of water to underside of treads

Cutting a shallow channel with a saw or router along all four sides of the underside of the tread can dramatically reduce rot and splitting.

Stringer: Sistering

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Prevent capillary flow of water into stringer joints

Spread the stringers used in exterior stairs out evenly or use thicker stringer material rather than plied, stacked or sistered stringers. Directly sistered stringers (nailed together) can cause rot at the joint as water can get pulled into the joint which can take much longer to dry.

Boxed Cleat attachment

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Hardware required to withstand stresses

In boxed or non-saw tooth exterior stairs, if using a cleat construction, be sure to use counter-sunk through bolts or counter-sunk large lag screws to secure the cleats. Screws and nails can work loose over time. Routed out, interior-style, boxed stringers tend to be less durable in exterior installations

Boxed Tread Attachment

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Decking screws are best, galvanized nails are okay

In boxed or non-saw tooth exterior stairs, it is typically best to use decking screws to attach the treads to the cleats. For a clean look the screws can be brought up from below the cleat and treads. Nails, in general, are not well suited to stair construction.