I know that tiny house stairs are a rarity and that people opt for ladders instead; however, I don’t think ladders are a great option for several reasons. First and foremost, there’s nothing quite like having to climb down a ladder in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Further, as the home’s inhabitants get older, the use of a ladder will likely become more and more difficult. The good news is that tiny house stairs can work in the right size tiny home and the space underneath it can provide for a lot of storage. Below I show you step-by-step how to create 25sf storage by building these tiny house stairs. In the example shown, the treads (what you step on) are 10″ deep and the risers (the height of each step) are 8 7/8″ tall and the entire unit is built from 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood.
Learning how to calculate tiny house stairs is a lesson in and of itself, but I’ll give you a quick primer here to get you started. We won’t be using stringers (the structural supports under most staircases which are cut from 2×12 stock) as we want to maximize the storage capacity of the space. Thus the boxes.
- Measure the height of the space requiring stairs. This is called the “rise.” Measure from floor to floor and account for any finish flooring that may be installed later. This is especially important if you plan to use floor coverings with different thicknesses on the main floor and the loft. You will need to adjust the riser heights accordingly if this is the case so to keep the risers consistent.
- Measure the space you have in which to build the stairs. This is called the “run.” Make a mark on the floor directly below the loft and measure to a point as far away as you can go for the length of the stairs. The farther you go the more you will provide a gentle rise for the stairs.
- Divide the run by 10″ as that is your target tread depth. If the number is even, then that is the number of treads you will have. If it is not even (i.e. there are fractions or decimals left over), then round up and that is the number of treads you will have. For example, a measurement of 8.67 would mean 9 treads would be needed.
- Start over (sort of). Divide the run by the new number of treads. This will give you the exact measurement for each tread.
- Repeat the same process for the risers.
- You can tweak the math any way you want here, but keep in mind that the closer you get to code (minimum of 10″ treads and maximum of 8″ risers) the more comfortable your stairs will be.
Now, let’s build some boxes…
Once all of the stairs are in place, cover the edges of the boxes with what is called a “face frame.” This is typically made of a finish grade wood. I plan to install mine once the stairs are covered with their own finish material. The treads will have the same flooring as the rest of the house and the risers will have a decorative wood finish. After the face frame is installed, I will create custom doors to cover the entire staircase and complete the look of the unit.
*To view images of the completed stairs, you can find several in our photo gallery.