Basement Staircase Cost

The average cost for installing a basement staircase is $1,500.

In this guide

Pros and cons of basement staircases
Staircase design
Parts of a staircase
Installation considerations
Labor
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a basement staircase?

A staircase allows you to easily access your basement. If your home is older it might have a rickety staircase that you want to replace with a sturdy, well-built structure. All staircases require accurate measurements and should be constructed with safety in mind, but basement stairways are usually dark and often not constructed with standard or common dimensions.

The cost to build a standard flight of pine basement stairs that go down one story, featuring the standard 13 treads for a total length of 130 inches or 10 feet 10 inches, averages $1,000-$2,000.

Pros and cons of basement staircases

There are several pros and a couple of cons to building a basement staircase:

ProsCons

Provides easy access to the basement

A straight staircase gives a view of all the stairs

Most basement staircases are easy to build

The basement may not have the proper height required to install a staircase according to the requirements of a building code.

A basement may not be well lit and cramped so difficult to work within the confines.


Staircase design

Staircase measurements are determined by building codes which often vary by location. No matter what the design, however, there are a few minimum measurements that do not differ:

StaircaseMeasurements
Staircase widthMinimum of 36 inches
Staircase riser heightMaximum of  7 3/4 inches
Staircase tread run lengthMinimum of 10 inches


Most basements have a set of straight stairs. However, some people might opt to construct other staircase designs which can increase the price of the staircase. The amount of space that a stairway takes up will depend on the size and height of the basement. You must measure the distance from the location on the floor of the bottom stair up to the top of the stairs to find out the total rise.

Staircase typeHeadroom
Straight staircase6 feet 8 inches
Spiral staircase6 feet 6 inches
U-shaped6 feet 8 inches
L-Shaped6 feet 8 inches
Half open6 feet 8 inches
Multiple levels6 feet 8 inches


Parts of a staircase

One of the key parts of a stairway is the railing 1. The railing provides a handhold as person ascends or descends the stairway. It is used not only for safety, but also as a decorative addition. You can also opt not to have an open railing and instead enclose the stairway, though depending on the height of the staircase you will probably still need a handrail 1.

Depending on the style you are looking for in your home and basement, there are several types of railings to choose from. The costs given in the table are for an 11-foot railing:

Railing typeCost
Braided stainless steel cable$10
Wood$60-$127
Brushed steel$210
Wrought iron$750
Glass paneling$1400


The stair tread is the surface of the stair. There are three types of stair treads. Each have their pros and cons:

TypesProsCons
Traditional solid wood

All-natural

Durable

Long-lasting

Can be stained to match your interior

Expensive

Requires a craftsman to install

Warps from heat or humidity

Engineered/Fabricated wood

Not susceptible to changing temperatures

Does not warp

Affordable

Looks authentic

Does not last very many years
False end treads

Great for use with carpet

Gives the look of real hardwood

Affordable

More like an add-on that cover the sides of the step


Balusters 2 are optional, decorative pieces that can be added to the space between the handrail and the steps. Also called spindles 3 or stair sticks, they can be fashioned out of wood or other materials to match the railing and stairs. They range in price from $100 to $1,000 each depending on the material and design. Some balusters are extremely decorative.

Installation considerations

When building a staircase, you will need to determine the size of your stairwell so that you will have adequate headroom to accommodate the stairs. Remember that you will need to ascend and descend the stairs safely. The area where the stairs will go must be flat and free of debris. You may want to use an architect to design the staircase blueprints 4. Most architects charge $150 or more per hour.

You must measure the floor-to-floor height to determine exactly much room you have available to fit the staircase. You must always take into consideration the headroom, especially in a basement, so that there is clearance at all points on the stairs. The measurements will help you factor in the number of stairs required to finish the stairway.

You will need to determine if the staircase flows down one wall or is going to be open. To determine if the stairs will fit between two walls you must measure the width (wall to wall).

The slope of a stairway is is a 7 inch rise and an 11 inches tread. This means that you will have 7 ¾ for the riser and a minimum of 10 inches for the tread. These are the basic measurements to pass a building inspection in the United States to ensure that you are building a safe and usable stairway.

The side wall beside the staircase might benefit from the addition of decorations or hooks.

Labor

The process of building stairs requires several skill sets. An architect will determine the size and style of the stairs. Most architects charge 10-17 percent of the total cost of the stairway. A civil engineer draws up the blueprints of the staircase and typically charges $100-$130 per hour. A handyman will be used to construct the stairs. Depending on the region, most handymen charge $60-$90 per hour. An electrician can install stairway lighting or electrical outlets and will usually charge about $65-$85 per hour.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Storage

The space under the stairs may seem useless but it can actually be used for storage. The best way to to transform it into storage is to install built-in 5 cabinets under the stairs. Generally, it is considered a medium construction job, requires about 2 to 4 hours of labor, and averages $200.

Adding a room

A small room constructed below the stairs will cost $300 or more, depending on the size of the room. To install plumbing into the small room to create a complete washroom will cost an additional $2,025-$2,925 for all plumbing and fixtures.

Doors

Framing and installing a door is another option that many people undertake when installing a stairway. To frame and install a door for your staircase will average $500.

Carpeted or painted stairs

Carpeting or painting stairs is a common finishing touch. The cost to install carpet averages $3-$6 per yard strictly for labor. Cost to paint stairs averages $0.50-$1.60 for paint per stair.

Additional considerations and costs

  • To save money, you can have the stairs built parallel to the ceiling joists to reduce installation time and materials.
  • To personalize wood stairs, consider adding stencils 6. The average cost of stair decals averages $22-$45 for a complete set.
  • Heating equipment can be dangerous if placed in a home’s basement. Basements are often moist which can damage the HVAC equipment. Additional equipment should be installed to control the moisture and keep your family healthy since excessive moisture can spur dangerous mold growth. Always have a licensed HVAC company handle all heating and air installation in a basement because it involves the use of high voltage wiring and other specialized skills.
  • When installing basement steps, remember that some regions require a specific slope for safety. A steep incline is harder to walk down and a person can fall more easily on such stairways. A gradual slope is far easier to traverse.
  • Many regions of the country require specialized permits and all stairs must be built to specific code requirements as set forth by the International Building Code.
  • You can decide to build stairs yourself trying DIY pre-built stairs.

FAQ

  • How long is a staircase for 9-foot ceilings?

The rise is 11 feet.

  • How high does a stair railing have to be?

The railing needs to be 34-38 inches above the top of the stair tread

  • How wide do basement stairs need to be?

The width of the stairs must be at least 36 inches wide.

  • How do you build a staircase?

You first determine the size and type of staircase required. You can then figure out what materials you require and the various costs of the different tradesmen needed to complete the project.

  • How much does it cost to install hardwood stairs?

The cost is approximately $110 per step.

  • How much does it cost to install stair railings and balusters?

The cost averages $3,300 for all railings and labor.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Railing: (Also known as Handrail) A long bar designed for a person to hold onto, giving them support. They are usually found on the sides of staircases, and can also be found in bathrooms, for example, to help persons with disabilities
2 Balusters: Small pillars that are used to support a railing, such as on a staircase.
3 Spindles: One of a series of identical vertical supports, typically decorative, used between railing posts on decks and stairs
4 Blueprints: A technical drawing of an architectural design. Traditionally these were made using a printing process that produced a white line on a blue background. They can also be made with CAD software and a large-scale printer
5 Built-in: An item of furniture, such as a bookcase or set of cabinets, that is built directly into the structure of the room. Built-ins are therefore customized to the room and not detachable
6 Stencils: A design or pattern created by forcing paint or ink onto a flat surface using a thin sheet of perforated material (also called a stencil)

Cost to install a basement staircase varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Alpharetta, GA
+9%
Ashburn, VA
+14%
Athens, GA
-9%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Beverly, MA
+19%
Boca Raton, FL
0%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Burke, VA
+24%
Cambridge, MA
+40%
Champaign, IL
0%
Chantilly, VA
+5%
Chatham, IL
+5%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Cleves, OH
+6%
Cumming, GA
+2%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Dearborn, MI
+16%
Denver, CO
+1%
Durham, NC
-1%
Elgin, IL
+28%
Everett, WA
-14%
Frederick, MD
0%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Grayling, MI
-34%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Kissimmee, FL
-20%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Lynnwood, WA
-14%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Novato, CA
+25%
Oceanside, CA
+8%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orem, UT
-25%
Overland Park, KS
+15%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Potomac, MD
+47%
Racine, WI
-7%
Raleigh, NC
-3%
Roscommon, MI
-34%
Saint Paul, MN
+20%
San Diego, CA
+11%
San Francisco, CA
+53%
San Jose, CA
+33%
Seattle, WA
+9%
Silvis, IL
-3%
Smyrna, GA
+10%

Labor cost in your zip code

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