Creating a Stairwell

Reference Number: KB-00757
Last Modified: July 1, 2016

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


What is the best way to create a stairwell in the program?


When stairs are created in Chief Architect, they begin on the current floor and draw in an upward direction. The program seeks the exact height of the floor above and will snap to that height if at all possible; and, it will produce stairs with consistent treads and risers in the process. 

There are a couple of ways to create a stairwell, an opening in the ceiling that allows the staircase to reach the floor above. The easiest is to use the Auto Stairwell tool; however, it is also possible to create a stairwell manually.

To create an automatic stairwell

  1. Open a Chief Architect plan in which you would like to create a stairwell. In order to create a stairwell, it is important that the plan have at least two floors.  

  2. On any floor of the plan other than the top floor, select Build> Stairs> Straight Stairs  from the menu, then click and drag a length of stairs in floor plan view.  

  3. Click on the staircase to select it and click the Open Object  edit button. In the Staircase Specification dialog:  

    • Go to the General panel and check to see if the staircase reaches the next floor.  

    • If the staircase does not reach the next floor a message will display 'Staircase does NOT reach next level.' If this is the case click the Make Best Fit button to extend the staircase.

    • If the staircase does reach the floor, then the message will say so. It may also indicate whether the staircase is steep or shallow.  

    • If the staircase is too steep or to shallow then the message will say for example 'Steep staircase reaches next floor.' This problem can be fixed by increasing or decreasing the number of Treads.  

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes.  

  4. With the staircase still selected, click the Auto Stairwell  button to create an opening in the floor above.

    This tool automatically creates an Open Below room above the staircase defined by railing walls. It will also automatically change the room label for the room to say Stairwell.  


    If the stairwell is located in the middle of the room and not touching any other walls, a Room Divider wall will appear connecting the stairwell to an exterior wall.

To create a stairwell manually

  1. Open a Chief Architect plan in which you would like to create a stairwell and draw your stairs as described in steps 1 and 2, above.   

  2. Once your stairs are in place, select Tools> Reference Floors> Up One Floor  from the menu.  

  3. Select Tools> Reference Floors> Reference Floor Display  from the menu or press the F9 key on your keyboard to turn on the Reference Floor Display, which allows you to see walls and other objects on the floor below.  

  4. Next, select Build> Railing and Deck> Straight Railing  and draw a room around the stairs, which will display as red lines as part of the Reference Display.  

  5. Select Build> Door> Doorway  from the menu, then click on the railing at the top edge of the stairs to place a doorway opening on that edge. Resize the doorway as needed to fill the railing.  

  6. Click in the room created by the railing to select it, then click the Open Object  edit button.  

  7. On the General panel of the Room Specification dialog, change the Room Type to Open Below, then click OK to close the dialog and apply the change.  

  8. To see the results, select 3D> Create Perspective View> Full Camera  from the menu, then click and drag a camera arrow in the direction of the stairs.