Skip to Content

What is a Stair Riser?

Patterned stair riser

What is a Stair Riser?

A stair riser is a basic component of stairs. It is the vertical part of each step. Stair risers must be at the proper height for safety and comfort.

Related: Stair Measuring Tool | Staircase Design Ideas | Quarter-Turn Staircase Ideas | Spiral Staircase Ideas | Curved Staircase Ideas | Cool Modern Staircase Design | Straight Staircase Ideas

What is it used for?

Stair risers are used for both aesthetics and functionality. They are used as a main component of stairs and are used for each step in the common set of stairs.


Victorian-patterned ceramic tile stair risers on a distressed staircase.

Stairs have been used for hundreds of years. As they were first constructed out of hewn logs and stacked rocks, they have become very sophisticated throughout history.

But when it comes to stair risers, the common ones we know and love today have been around since the 1940s thanks to their invention by Swiss architect Werner Bösendörfer. This is when stair risers really took off.

Where is it used?

Stair risers are used in staircases all over the world. Stair risers are a common component of stairs, but many will make changes to the height of risers, called the rise.

Why is it used and what’s so special about it?

Mosaic stair riser on outdoor steps.

Stair risers are used to build staircases. Without these components, stairs would be very different than they are today. Some stairs don’t include the riser and actually have an open back.

How is it used?

Stair risers are used for both their appearance and functionality. Instead of having an open back on each step of a staircase, risers help to cover that area to provide a pleasing look. On the other hand, stair risers also provide structural support for every step and the whole staircase altogether.

When was/is it used?

Stair risers are used at all times on the common staircase. Every single time someone takes a step on a staircase, a stair riser is used to offer support.

On the other hand, stair risers also cover up areas under the stairs that people sometimes don’t want to see. Stair risers are used in buildings of all shapes and sizes.

How is it made?

A man takes measurement of the stair risers.

There are many factors that go into how to construct stair risers. If these risers are made improperly, then it could be very dangerous to walk over them.

The incline/decline of the stairs, the color, and the structural support all help to determine the kind of stair risers to build. Calculations are made during construction to ensure that stair risers aren’t too tall or too short.

How are they different from the stair tread?

If you’re familiar with the different components of stairs, then you’ve probably heard of stair treads before. Stair treads are the area of stairs that form the step. They are horizontal and come in different sizes and styles.

Calculations are also made for stair treads in order to provide safety and appropriate functionality. The size of treads must be sufficient enough to properly step. Both treads and risers work hand-in-hand during the construction of standard staircases.

Average Height of Stair Risers

The height of stair risers depends on the incline of the staircase and the personal needs of the user. For those with shorter legs, it may be difficult to climb stairs if there are tall risers. On the other hand, tall people may find it uncomfortable to climb stairs with short risers.

Short risers can also make the staircase longer, which could add to the cost of construction. The standard height of stair risers is around 7.5 inches. Also, it’s important to note that risers built inside tend to be a few inches shorter than those built for the outdoors.

Related Articles: Parts of a Staircase (Illustrated Diagram) | 25 Vinyl Stair Riser Decal Ideas (Good Idea or Abomination?)