Helical Staircases and Balustrades

Hi to All,

Can someone help me about how to model a Helical staircase and Balustrade in Sketchup?

Which kind of extensions do I need?
What is the best-simplest way?

Thank you,

You can do it with the native tools.
Plugins could make it easier…

Helical Stairs [often incorrectly, but very commonly, known as ‘Spiral Stairs’] have to follow a set of interacting rules - varying by building-type, country and area - but many rules are common.
You need to check your local building-codes - no plugin is going to do everything for you.

So let’s assume that you establish that for your building/area the minimum width is 1000mm, the maximum taper of a tread is 15°, and the rules say the ‘going’ mid-tread is 250mm and the minimum going at the center is 50mm, and the treads should overlap by 25mm, and other rules say the ‘rise’ needs to be perhaps 170mm [this depends on the going and the total rise etc]…

You now have everything needed to make a component tread.
Draw out the constraints using the model’s origin as the component’s center.
Add 3d thickness to the tread etc.
Lift the tread’s geometry up by the ‘rise’.

Exit the edit-mode…
Use the Rotate tool on the component-instance, press Ctrl to instigate ‘copy’ and rotate the copy 15°.

Move the copy up by the ‘rise’.

Check that the treads relate to each other as you expect.

Now you can use Rotate+Ctrl to copy the two selected treads by 30°.
Move them up by 2xrise.

Now repeat with the four, and Move up 2xrise etc…

Repeat until you have the required number of treads in 3d…

Now you have a set of radially array treads, each stepping up by the ‘rise’.

You can edit a tread and add some baluster posts and a sloping piece of handrail around a 3d-arc - look at followme etc.
If you hide the end edges of the rail they’ll fit together nicely with their siblings…

The first and last treads will probably each need ‘make-unique’ and then editing to form different handrail forms bottom/top etc…

Stairs are one of the most complex things to design and get right - ‘spiral’ ones are perhaps evn worse !

You can try “1001 bit tool” too. Take a look no YouTube :+1:t2:

My StairMaker plugin will do curved stairs, spirals etc.

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Thank you… but actually my focus was more on how to have an helical solid balustrade (e.g.)…

I guess it is a sort of loft function (?) just weird is not normally included in a modelling program?

Hi Eduardo,

1001 bit tool looks great… but sadly it seems there are no versions for SKup 2017 :frowning: only up to 2015 version (?!)

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Hi gkernan,

where is you extension, do you have a link? Is it freeware?

His excellent GKWare Stair Maker v1.0.32 is available from Sketchucation.

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Hi Dave R

and also… how does it make the staircases? is it parametric? and after if I want to edit and personalize it?

e.g. if it is not perfectly helicas but more bespoke?


It is not freeware - but you do get 7 days free trial.


Making a ‘helical path’ [or a similar complex path] is relatively straightforward.
There are several tools to do it, or you can make it manually.

You can ‘weld’ the parts into a smooth curve as desired - there are several tools for this.

You will then need to extrude the handrail profile along it.

The native FollowMe tool is fine for a circular profile - just make sure the seed-face is perpendicular to the start of the path, select the path the activate the tool and select the face - you might need to reverse faces if it is made ‘inside out’.

If you have another profile - e.g. a rectangle, then FollowMe will unexpectedly skew it as it rises up the path.
@eneroth3 made https://extensions.sketchup.com/es/content/eneroth-upright-extruder to ensure it’s kept oriented consistently…

Looking at the link, I can’t help but chuckle at the idea of your plugin doing Tungsten Inert Gas arc welding in SketchUp. I can’t be the first one to make that association. :grin:

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That’s “Mr. Tungsten Inert Gas” to you pal. :smiley:

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His manors argon.

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Thank you TIG!!
I will have to try… :slight_smile:

Thank you ALL guys…
I will have to definitely try… :slight_smile:

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