Ben Sippel

Measuring up for your new Metal Staircase

Measuring up for a new staircase may be a daunting task, but in reality it is quite simple. There are only a few key measurements that are needed, but it is critical these dimensions are accurate. This guide aims to highlight the measurements required when designing a new staircase, what they are needed for and some tricks and tips you could use when gathering these dimensions and making sure they are accurate. We’ve even listed a few devices and tools that will come in handy along the way.

At The Metal Staircase Company we offer high end metal staircases at a very competitive price. The way we do this is through a design & make – supply only service, where the survey and installation is completed by our customers. Most of them are either building a home on behalf of someone, or building their home themselves. Whether this is a new build project or renovation, there are always skilled craftsman on site able to complete these tasks to a high standard. Lets just say, the measuring was the easy bit. 

Floor to floor measurement

This is probably the most critical dimension as this will determine the total number of steps needed as well as the individual rise of each step. Building regulations require each rise to be equal throughout the staircase. On a residential staircase the individual rise must be no greater than 220mm and commercial 170mm. It is advisable that you take this measurement when your sub-floors are down and you know what the finished floor build up will be, this way nothing is left to speculation. Remember, it is the Finished Floor to Finished Floor that we need.

The best way to measure this is from the trimmer where your staircase will finish, down to the point where you want your staircase to start. Most people would simply measure directly down from the trimmer to the floor, but this would not take into account any discrepancy in the floor levels. A great device to take this accurately is a laser level. Simply sit it on top of your trimmer, project a laser across to the desired position and run the tape up vertically.

Floor to ceiling meausrement

 This is only critical if your staircase will sit under the ceiling at any point. The reason this becomes a key dimension is to ensure there aren’t any headroom restrictions. Building regulations states that a consistent 2m clear headroom is required throughout the journey up and down the staircase. It is always good to take this measurement just in case the design varies from the initial plan.  

This can simply be measured from the finished ground floor to the finished ceiling. Remember to account for any plasterboard on the ceiling if it has not been installed already.

Well opening dimensions

Simply measure the well opening you have created for the staircase. This will help determine the going and the width of the staircase that will fit in the space. We will always make the most out of your stairwell, by ensuring that the staircase we provide has the best possibly pitch available whilst still conforming to building regulations.

There are a couple things to watch out for. Make sure that you account for any plasterboard being applied to walls or joists if they aren’t there already, and also make sure you highlight any walls or doors that might hinder the design of the staircase.


Measuring devices


  • Tape measure – The age old tool of choice and always reliable. This needs no explanation, just make sure you have at least 5m as wells and floor heights can often surpass 3m.
  • Laser measure – As an alternative or to be used alongside the tape measure, a laser measure often comes in handy. They are extremely precise and can often get you around situations that tape measures can’t. They do cost a few quid, but can be used in all sorts of applications so you will definitely get your monies worth – We use the Leica Disto D2
  • Spirit level – An absolute classic, yet often not big enough for the job. You can find out if your floor is level, but unless you have a 3m one, they will often not span the distance you need.
  • Laser Level – The perfect tool for measuring your floor to floor with ultimate accuracy. Just make sure you knock off the height that the horizontal laser sits off the bottom of the device – We use the Stanley Cross90 Line Laser
  • Angle finder – Not required that often, but if you have an angled bulkhead, they come in handy here. Also good to check if you well is square – We use the Winkeltronic Digital Angle Finder

Survey Document

With every staircase, we always provide a detailed survey document prompting you of the measurements that are needed. This document is tailored to your stairwell, so you just need to measure and fill in the boxes. Remember we are always on the other end of the phone should you need any advice. We do always advise to double check your measurements before you send your document back to us.

If you want to know more about UK or Scottish building regulations, click on the links below where you can download a copy for further reference.

UK Building regulations: Document K

Scottish building regulations: 4.3 Stairs & ramps


If you want to find out more about the style of staircase that can fit in your new home, choose which of staircase styles you like the most, then either:

Give us a call on 01782 987 786 to get started with a metal staircase quotation.


Send your plans to [email protected] and we’ll get to work straight away!