How to Make Stairs in Sketchup (without plugins)

Featured image_How to Make Stairs in Sketchup

Making stairs in Sketchup can be a bit tricky, especially if the design is more complex. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to model a staircase. Don’t have a plugin? Don’t worry about it! We’ll show you how to make a staircase without using any Sketchup plugins. Before you get started, you want to make sure you know the floor-to-floor height.

Model Floor-to-Floor

Draw Rectangle. Use the rectangle tool to draw a plane for the ground.

Make Group. Right-click and select “make group.”

Copy. Copy the rectangle and move it up on the blue axis. Type the amount of the floor-to-floor height and hit “enter.” Move the top rectangle so that it is offset from the bottom rectangle to create space for the stairs to connect.

copy floor for stairs in Sketchup

Model Stairs in Sketchup

If this is a real project, make sure to verify the tread and riser measurements with the building code that is applicable to your project.

Draw Tread. Use the rectangle tool to draw a rectangle that is level with the top floor. Type “ 3’,1’ ” in the dimensions box and hit “enter.”

Make Component. Right-click on the tread and select “make component.” Type “tread” in the “definition” box and click “create.”

create tread component for stairs in Sketchup

Determine Maximum Riser Height

Copy Tread. Select the tread and open the move command. Hit “ctrl” to make a copy. Drag the copied tread to the bottom floor. Type “/10” and hit “enter.” Depending on your floor-floor height, you may need more or less than 10 treads. I personally always have a measurement calculator at the ready so I can just punch this in ahead of time to see what I need.

copy tread of stairs in Sketchup

Measure. If you don’t have access to a measurement calculator you can always do this kind of by trial-and-error as well. Use the tape measure tool to measure the distance between the treads. If the distance is more than 7 inches, try dividing the tread instance by a higher number. Keep double-checking the measurements between the treads until you get a height between 6-7 inches. When you have the spacing figured out, you can delete all of the treads below the top two.

Measure tread distance of stairs in Sketchup

Copy Treads. Select the second tread. Move it so that the back edge aligns with the front edge of the tread above it. Select the second tread. Click on the back corner of the top tread as the first point. Copy and move the tread by clicking on the back corner of the second tread as the second point. Type one less than the number of treads you determined you needed and hit “enter.”

copy tread of stairs in Sketchup

Add the Risers

Since you made the tread a component, you just have to draw the riser once and it will be applied to every tread.

Double click on the top tread. Draw a line connecting the top tread to the one below it on both sides.

draw riser on stairs in Sketchup

Make the Stringer

The final step to making stairs in Sketchup is to add the stringer.

Copy. Copy your staircase off to the side. Rotate the staircase so that it is on it side.

Rotate. Use the rotate tool to lock the staircase to the green axis.

rotate stairs in Sketchup

Draw Rectangle. Use the rectangle tool to draw a rectangle that is approximately 11.25 inches by 3 feet on the side of the stairs. Extend the top and bottom edges of the rectangle so they extend past the risers.

draw rectangle for stringer on stairs in Sketchup

Make Group. Right-click on the rectangle and select “make group.”

Trace Shape. Double click into the group. Use the line tool to trace the triangular shape in between one of the treads. Copy and paste the shape to the space next to it. Multiply the shape by typing “ *20 ” and hit “enter.” (this may be more than you need but you can just delete the extra or type * and a number less than 20 to reduce the number of copies.)

copy tread space on stairs in Sketchup

Erase. Hit “E” to open the eraser tool and delete all of the triangle shapes between the treads and risers.

erase stringer space on stairs in Sketchup

Draw a line over the top riser. Draw another line that extends perpendicularly to the riser. Delete any of the excess rectangles that extend past the top riser.

draw perpendicular line on stairs in Sketchup

For the bottom riser, draw a line that extends from the front edge of the riser to the back of the stringer. Delete any of the excess that extends beyond the bottom riser.

Extrude. Double-click into the stringer group. Use the “push/pull” tool to extrude the shape up 1.5 inches.

extrude stringer on stairs in Sketchup

Make Component. Once your stringer is finished, right-click and select “make component.” Name the component “stringer.”

make the stringer a component for stairs in Sketchup

Move. Move the stringer and align it with the back edge of the top tread of your original staircase.

Rotate. Hit “Q” to open the rotate tool. Rotate the top edge so it aligns with the top tread on the green axis. Select the two points on the top face of the stringer and align it with the top face of the treads.

rotate and align stringer to stairs in Sketchup

Copy. Copy the stringer over to the other side of the staircase.

copy stringer to other side of stairs in Sketchup

Finishing Touches

If you want, you can go into the stair component and add some details.

Extrude. Use the “push/pull” tool to extrude the treads and risers out .5 inches.

Add Nosing. Extrude the tread beyond the riser by an inch or so. Draw a circle (or any nosing shape) on the edge of the tread for the nosing. Erase any intersecting lines. Delete the half of the circle that intersects with the tread.

add nosing to stairs in Sketchup

Use the “push/pull” tool to extend the semicircle to the opposite edge of the tread. Hit “E” to open the eraser tool. Hold “ctrl” while you select the top line on the tread to hide it.

extrude nosing on stairs in Sketchup

Delete Top Piece. Right-click on the top tread. Select “make unique.” Double-click into the component and delete the top tread.

final stairs in Sketchup

There are plenty of other details you can add like railings, banisters, and landings, but this gives all of the basics you need to model stairs in Sketchup! If you liked this article, check out our tutorials page to see more tips! What other details do you want to learn to model in Sketchup? Let us know in the comments, we would love to help out!

Happy Hacking!

27 Comments

  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

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  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

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  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

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  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

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  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Paige,

    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.

    Best,
    Tony

  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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