What You Need to Know about Building Code Requirements

12 Up to Code (Floating)Meeting code may slightly limit your aesthetic and build options. However, not all floating staircase projects are required to meet code. The only instances when you have to be conscious of code requirements are:

  1. if you’re about to sell your home
  2. if the floating staircase will be the primary means of egress between floors
  3. your stair will be public facing

Be aware that meeting code may slightly change the stair’s cost as it may require you to add material by allowing less space between steps and spindles and having higher railing.

Here are a few more coding considerations you’re more likely to encounter in the course of installing a floating staircase. Others exist, but these few are more common and help provide you with a better understanding of what to expect when it comes to meeting coding standards.

  • Spindles should not be more than 4” apart.
  • Handrails should not be less than 36”
  • Each step must be able to bear at least a 300lbs concentrated load.
  • The open distance between the bottom of one step and the top of another step should not exceed 4”.

Should you encounter issues with satisfying the last item on this list, there is a simple fix that can even be applied post-installation. Simply attach riser bars on the bottom of already installed steps to close any gaps that exceed 4”. This is a very easy and cost-efficient way to satisfy this coding requirement.

To help you meet code as far as step count and measurement, here’s a quick guide and some formulas to give you an idea of measurement requirements.

For Residential Applications (IRC):

  • 10” minimum step depth (measurement of the step before the overhang of the step above it)
  • 7.75” maximum riser height

For Commercial Applications (IBC):

  • 11” minimum step depth
  • 7” maximum riser height

In order to calculate the number of steps for each of the above requirements, you must take your floor-to-floor height and divide it by either 7” or 7.75”, depending on your application. Round the resulting number up to the nearest whole and this will be your number of rises. Then divide the floor-to-floor height by the number of rises and you’ll have your individual riser height.


An IRC stair with 10” steps and a 1/2” overhang:

120” / 7.25” = 15.483.
Round 15.483 up to 16 – number of rises.
120 / 16 = 7.75 – individual riser height.

For the run, you’ll multiply your number of steps by your step depth and add your overhang.

Following the above example –

16 – 1 = 15 – number of steps.
15 * 10 = 150 – run of stair before overhang.
150 + 0.5 = 150.5 – run of stair.

These formulas will help to give you a good grasp of what your step count should be for your project once you’ve figured out your larger measurements, which will help you make sure you meet any code requirements should that be an issue.

A final note to consider when concerning code requirements is that they vary by location. What may be compliant in one state will not be in another. So, it is best to consult with a Mylen Designer in order to obtain the most concrete idea of what your coding concerns really should be if they’re a factor at all in your floating stair installation project.