Stairs: It’s not Revit, it’s You!
This will be the first blog in a series of blogs I am starting entitled “It’s not Revit, It’s You!” I am going to say up front that some of the upcoming issues may actually anger some, but the point is to compare some of the most annoying situations in Revit to real life circumstances that way we all begin to understand why Revit is working in a way that most feel is counterproductive or “wrong”. It was extremely hard to decide which issue to tackle first between all of the “issues” that seem to exist. It hit me late one day after hearing multiple arguments from a small group of architectural interns that stairs should actually be the very first topic as most people just hate (or don’t understand) how stairs work. Let’s jump straight into understanding stairs and then how to create a sexy stair in a sort of abbreviated tutorial.
I will be the first person to say that originally (7 years ago) I too had an amazingly difficult time creating really nice stairs within Revit. Instead of using the provided tool and learning what I was doing wrong I would waste countless hours modeling everything as an independent family. That left me, like most creating a disgusting generic stair just for the sake of the drawing, but in 3D it simply wasn’t the amazing stair that I had drawn or dreamed up. It hit me about 4 years ago that if I dissected what Revit was trying to do and compare it to real world stair construction Revit actually starts to make a great deal of sense. For all that dont know me my background is heavy (15 years) in Residential Construction and I remembered how extremely frustrating creating real stairs are! There are so many components that have to be exact for the stair to be “correct” (i.e. Risers, Treads, Stringers, Balusters, Railing, and all mounting hardware and spacing). Sound familiar? It most certainly should considering these are the exact parameters that Revit uses to calculate the creation and manipulation of your stair. Creating a stair in Revit is just like real life and you know what? They are extremely hard to construct and understand in both instances. I absolutely hate when people say that Revit should be “easier” or that something is “dumb”. I stress over and over that Revit is an intelligent modeling program so to be successfully using the program you inherently have to have a great deal of intelligence yourself (or at least the ability to gain knowledge and understanding over time).
With that being said, lets jump into understanding the components that will make up your virtual stair. There are 3 main components that will go into the creation of your stair; baluster(s), railing profile(s), and the actual stair creation tool (which contains all the other necessary items and the calculations needs) within a project. Let’s start with the railing sweep because it’s by far the easiest to understand! The railing sweep is literally a closed loop of model lines (a profile) that will make up all of the horizontal members of the railing system. The baluster is basically anything and everything that is going to be supporting anything else (the railing or the treads for instance). Understand that in some cases you are going to need multiple balusters and multiple railing profiles. In the example below I created 2 railing sweeps and 3 baluster families that way I could fully control all of the spacing within the stair and railings.
In my example I actually chose to not include a railing within the properties of the stair itself. Instead, I used the railing tool after the main portion of the stair was complete to then draw a railing that is hosted by the stair. Normally people completely miss that the railing tool actually has a “Pick New Host” command. That command will actually let you pick the stair which in turn allows for the railing to maintain the same slope as the stairs. Another important trick that everyone seems to miss is the fact that when drawing the railing line that where you stop drawing the railing will actually re-reference the object below it so If you want a railing that slopes with the stair but then levels off and wraps back around itself then you simply stop your line then add another line to represent that design detail. The illustration below should help clarify what I am talking about.
In this case I will have to reiterate that if you or someone you know is still completely confused with the stair tool then, “It’s not Revit, It’s you (or them)!” The stair tool is overwhelmingly powerful and that really seems to be the main issue. The power of the tool makes it too hard for most to understand it at first. Remember do not jump into modeling a stair blindly either! It’s all about your Revit Mindset! Most modelers also seem to lack real life construction experience that is necessary to understand all that goes into something a “simple” as a stair. I know that if you really take the time to understand how stairs work that you will be rewarded greatly and can then have a simply amazing time creating stairs with your newfound knowledge and appreciation!
I hope this helps everyone with some of the pitfalls of creating stairs and ultimately changes the way you are thinking about them!
Thanks for reading!
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