Revit Architecture: Stair by Sketch

In this this Revit Architecture tutorial I am going to show you how to create a run of Stairs using the “Stair by Sketch” tool.

In order to demonstrate the “Stair by Sketch” tool I am going to start off with a completely blank Revit Project file. First of all select the “Stair” tool from the “Architecture” menu….



When you select “Stair” you will notice that the ribbon menu changes to “Sketch Mode”. You can always tell when Revit is in Sketch Mode by the presence of the Green tick and Red Cross. Before we go any further  take a look at the Properties Palette…..



There are 3 important things to note here (use the above image for reference)….

  1. The “Base Level”- this is the Level in your model that the stairs will start from, at their lowest point.
  2. The “Top Level”- this is the Level in your model that the stairs will go up to.
  3. The “Desired Number of Risers”- this is the number of Risers (the vertical parts in between each horizontal step) that are required (with this particular stair type) to span “exactly” between the Base Level and the Top Level. Revit calculates this value automatically, based on the “Type” of stair chosen.
Now let’s take our attention back over to the Ribbon menu. We are going to be creating a Run of Stair- so we can leave the “Run / Landing / Support” toggle set to “Run”. If you now look to the right of these buttons- you’ll see the Components panel. Instead of inserting a “Component”, we want to actually build-up this Stair by means of Sketch lines, so we need to choose the “Sketch” tool- see the tool fenced by the red square in the image below….


Once you select this “Sketch” too, you’ll notice that the “Components” panel changes to the “Draw” palette…..




There are some important things to note here (with reference the image above)….

  1. “Boundary” sketch lines: Make sure this is selected when you need to sketch Boundary Lines. Boundary Lines are the lines that run along the SIDES of your Stairs and Landings- do NOT place Boundary Lines at the Top of Bottom of your Stairs. Boundary Lines are always displayed in Green.
  2. “Riser” sketch lines. These lines SPAN between the Boundary Lines and represent the “Step lines” in plan. Riser Lines are always displayed in Black
So let’s go ahead and start by sketching out our stair run. It really doesn’t make much difference if you sketch the Boundary or the Riser Lines first- although I would suggest it’s far easier (for setting-out purposes) to place the Boundary Lines first. So that’s what we’ll do now….


In the above image you can see that I’ve drawn 2 parallel Boundary Lines. These are going to be the sides of my stair run. Note (in the red box) how Revit informs me that I have not yet created any of the Risers- and that all 24 are still to be created. Now let’s create the Riser Lines (you can think of these as the position of the actual steps, in plan). First switch the toggle to “Riser” (1) and make sure you have “Straight line segment (2) selected in the draw palette…..



With these tools set I can now start drawing my Riser Lines, ensuring they span “precisely” between the 2 Boundary Lines. In the image below you can see that I’ve already drawn 2 Risers and I’m in the process of placing my 3rd….

Now can just continue drawing each Riser by hand- i.e. clicking a start point and then clicking an end point. But this is going to be quite laborious- particularly on a long stair run. It is much more efficient to draw the first 2 Risers and then Copy one of them multiple times….

Once you have drawn 2 Risers (ensure you have the distance you require between them), just se the Copt tool (1), ensure “Multiple” is enabled on the Options Bar (2) and then use the junctions between the Risers and a Boundary Line to snap to. With this method it is very easy to create all the Risers you need in order to complete your Stair Run (3)….



Keep checking the values shown just below your lower Boundary Line…..


These give you a live update of how many Risers you still need to create. You can see in the above image that I have created all 24 Risers required for this particular Stair Run. With all Risers now in place I can proceed to create the Stair Geometry by hitting the Green Tick to come out of Sketch Mode…..



As soon as I hit the Green Tick, Revit turns the sketch (Boundary and Riser lines) into actual 3D geometry. The Stair Run is created and is left selected (hence highlighted in blue)….


Note that you are still in Sketch Mode- this is for the creation of the overall Stair. The Sketch Mode we were previously just in was simply for the creation of a particular component- a single straight run in this case. So go ahead and hit the Green Tick again to complete the overall Stair element…..



The Stair is now completed. Revit displays it in the correct graphics- i.e. a break-line, up arrow, etc…..

If we switch to a 3D View we can better see the completed Stair element. Note that Revit has automatically added Railings to each side of the Run…..

Key Points

  • Stair by Sketch gives you the ability to form any shape of Stair / Landing you need.
  • Your Stair Runs and Landings require Green Boundary Lines at their SIDES
  • You use Black Riser Lines to denote where you need the steps to be
  • The Riser Lines MUST intersect (precisely) the Boundary Lines
  • Do NOT place Green Boundary Lines at the top or bottom of your Stair Runs- it will not work!
This tutorial is taken from "The Complete Beginner's Guide to Revit Architecture" FREE online course.
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Posted in Autodesk Revit.