Stair Building Ideas For Design And Construction

Closed Stairway Riser Options

front view of wood stairs with open risers and 4 inch sphere that can pass through

I wanted to give you a couple of options on how to close an open stairway. Examine the illustrations and pictures on this page to get more ideas. The main goal is to block a 4 inch round sphere from going through any area of the stairway, including the risers.

The upper section of the illustration shows you the front view of a stairway with 2 x 12 treads and the lower section is a side view of the same stairway. By placing a piece of wood on top of the lower stair tread, you can create an open riser effect, but keep a 4 inch round sphere from going through this area.

Remember, some building codes don't allow you to use open riser's.

Attention: Don't forget to check with your local building department to verify any building codes on this website. This information could be incorrect or outdated. Building codes are updated regularly and to some building departments have different interpretations for certain building codes.

In the illustration above we moved the blocking board to the center, between the two stair treads. Make sure that you use a strong piece of wood or metal, because this particular design could easily get kicked by stairway users and damaged.

nailer under wood tread to meet building code

In the illustration above we moved the blocking board to the top, between the two stair treads. This is probably the best spot and will suffer the least amount of damage, from people using the stairway.

In the illustration above, we closed the stairway with a 2 x 6. This is the simplest way to close a stairway's risers. Simply nail a 2 x 6 to the back up every tread and then nail from the top of the tread into the 2 x 6 riser to securely fasten it to the stairway.

front view of closing riser on stairway with open treads

In the illustration above, we closed the stairway with a 2 x 6, except this time we angled it. Some stairways require a 1 inch setback, instead of a 1 inch tread overhang. If you need to close the risers and the designer is requesting a setback, instead of an overhang, this is how it would be done.

However, it usually doesn't look very good from underneath the stairs.

I gave you a few illustrations, but wanted to give you a picture, just in case the illustrations didn't make any sense. The picture above is showing the area that needs to be blocked, to create an open or closed riser stairway, according to most building codes. The black ball represents a 4 inch round sphere, that should not pass or penetrate through any part of an open staircase.