Stair Treads vs Stair Risers: What's the Difference?


 According to one study, they recorded about 1 million stair-related injuries each year. In order to minimize these injuries, many people install stair treads and risers in each step.

But what are they, and what are the differences between the two? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

What Are Stair Treads?

The stair tread is the part of the step that you actually step on. Most people just call these stair parts "steps."

These stair treads can be made from all kinds of materials including:

  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Masonry
  • Brick
  • Concrete

When construction companies design stairs, they consider the distance from the front of the thread to the back. This is called the depth of the stair. They'll design each tread so that people will be safe when going up and down.

If the treads are too shallow, you won't have enough room to put your feet on there to safely walk up the stairs. They'll feel unsafe to most people, and a lot of people could slip or miss a step.

If you are wondering what a narrow stair tread is like, it's more of like a ladder step.

On the other hand, you could have a tread that is too deep, making it uncomfortable or difficult to walk on. In order to go up, you'll have to use wide steps or even take two steps at a time. This isn't safe either.

So to be safe, stair treads should be around 10.5 - 12 inches. When you're designing stairs, make sure you keep that measurement in mind so that people will be able to use the stairs easily. Also, keep in mind that each stair tread will have to be the exact same measurement, or it could be unsafe.

What Are Stair Risers?

Stair risers are the vertical stair parts. You'll be able to easily spot these because they're normally painted white to indicate the height of each rise. They're sometimes called kickboards because if you trip on the stairs, this is the part that your shin or foot will hit.

Just like builders make sure they calculate the measurements of the stair treads, they also ensure that the stair risers are the perfect height for safety and comfortability.

If a step is too high or low, it can make it dangerous to go up and down. If the step is too big, you might stub your toe and trip down the stairs. However, if they're too small, it could make it worse because you'll have to take a lot of unnatural tiny steps.

If you have a rise that is too high, it can be dangerous for kids who have short legs. On the other hand, a rise that is too low is problematic for adults who have longer legs.

To avoid any problems, you should measure out seven to eight inches for all of your stair risers. They should also all be the same height.


Even though they work together to make a set of staircases, they have a few differences.

As we stated earlier, the stair tread is the horizontal part of the step and the riser is the vertical part of the step.

However, it is possible to have stair treads without having stair risers. There are many modern homes that have treads without having a piece of wood to support them.

Other examples of these steps include ladders or deck staircases. However, even though they are functional, it can make it dangerous for some people to go up the stairs.

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How They Work Together

Even though you can have treads without the risers, you'll need to always have treads.

They can work together to determine how steep and wide the step is. You'll also have to account for how they work together though.

If you're not sure what measurements you should use, always make sure that you reference the local building codes first. These are normally strict and specific, and they're designed to make sure that all stairs are safe to climb.

For example, some codes require you to have a rise and a tread that equal 17.5 inches when you build them. So that would mean that the risers could be at least 7 inches high, and you'll need a tread that is at least 10.5 inches deep.

If you're going to build a staircase from scratch, you should figure out the vertical distance from the top to the bottom. Once you have that number, you can divide that by 7, which is the standard height.

This way you'll be able to figure out how many stairs you'll need to build.


If you're thinking about building some stairs in your home, you'll have to decide if you want to include stair risers or not. You will need to include treads.

You can find materials at companies like Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods. On average, a wooden stair tread will cost about $10 to $30. The stair risers are normally around the same piece.

The cost will vary depending on what type of wood species you want, the texture of the wood, and the finish.

Learn More About Stair Treads vs Stair Risers

These are only a few things to know about stair treads vs stair risers, but there are many more things to keep in mind.

We know that doing any type of home improvement project can be stressful and overwhelming, but we're here to help you out!

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