We recently replaced our upstairs flooring from carpet to hardwood floors. After leveling the upstairs floor and installing the new flooring, the upstairs landing is now 1 3/8" higher leaving a noticeable step down when going from the landing to the first stair down. Due to having smaller children, we prefer to keep the stairs carpeted for now. Recognizing there are code requirements for stair rise and runs (we live in Washington, US), is there a conventional way to adjust stair rises as needed to stay safe and stay within code? The last thing we want is someone taking a big step down and falling down the stairs.

  • There are also code requirements for the difference in height between steps (including first and last) and your floor modification has blown those by a factor of 11...the somone that falls down the stairs could be you (just takes one time not thinking about "the weird step you know about" from which comes code, and codes are written in blood...
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 16, 2021 at 3:34
  • See diy.stackexchange.com/q/131463/18078 for some ideas.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 16, 2021 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


A landing is required if the door swings outward, except for screen doors. The landing is to be the width of the door and a minimum of 36” in the direction of travel. (See ICC R311.4.3.)

The maximum rise of steps is 8”. The maximum difference between risers is 3/8” from smallest to largest. (See ICC R311.5.3.1)

The minimum tread depth is 9”. The greatest difference from smallest to largest is 3/8”. (See ICC R311.5.3.2)

A handrail is required if there are 4 or more risers. The handrail is to be installed a minimum of 34” and not to exceed 38” (See ICC R311.5.6)

Handrails are required on one side only. (See ICC 1009.15) It’s customary to have it on the right side descending, but not mandatory.

Handrails are not required if there are 3 risers or less. (See ICC 1009.15.4)

Make sure you have a minimum of 1 1/2” clearance between the handrail and wall. (See ICC 1012.7)

I think you’ll have to remove the treads and adjust the height of each so no tread is more or less than 3/8” compared to the height of any other riser.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.