Maximum Total Stairway Rise

The maximum total stairway rise between floors is 12 feet, without an intermediate landing, floor or platform.

Reference: 2012 International Building Code - 1009.10 Page 255

Any stair rise or distance between the lower level and the upper level that exceeds 12 feet, must have a landing like the picture below.

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 This information could be incorrect or outdated.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.

Now here's a building code rule that makes good sense. The reason for this building code is to prevent people from falling extremely long distances down a stairway, without a place to stop and to give people a flat resting point, if needed, while walking up of down a staircase.

stairway exceeding 12 feet in floor height

Here's the perfect example of a stairway that would require an intermediate landing. The 13'9" between floors is more than 12 feet and will probably create a safety problem for your local building department.

stairway with floor hieght over 12 feet with landing that meets building code

Here's the same stairway with an intermediate landing.

Here's where it gets tricky, but I hope I can explain it. The landing can be located anywhere in the stairway as long as the individual flights of stairs don't exceed 12 feet in vertical rise.

With a 13'9" vertical rise in the example above and 22 individual risers at 7 1/2 inches each, you could easily get away with placing the landing three risers above the first floor or below the upper level.

13' 9' - (3 risers @ 7.5 inches =22.5 inches or 1 feet - 10 1/2 inches) = 11' 10.5 inches.