Sweet Home 3D Blog

This blog presents news and tips about Sweet Home 3D.

How to customize staircases

You may have noticed that the Contributions furniture library 1.6 released in February 2016 contains many new staircases.
This is a good opportunity to explain how to use staircases in Sweet Home 3D and the new Invisible material option added in the version 5.2.

Making a hole in the ceiling

The staircases available in furniture libraries, as well as the ones you import with the furniture import wizard when the Staircase option is selected, will make a hole in the ceiling of a room only if there's an upper level. For example, the following screen capture shows how appears a staircase in a home with only one level: the staircase doesn’t make any hole in the ceiling.

Staircase in a room with no upper level

Once you add a level with the Plan > Add level menu item, the staircase will automatically make a hole in the ceiling, showing the sky through it until you build and decorate the upper level. Available levels appear in the tab list shown at the top of the 2D plan, and clicking on these tabs lets you switch between them.

Staircase in a room with an upper level

Note also that your staircase is visible on both levels in the plan, because its height goes beyond the elevation of the second level.
In case you find more convenient to see all levels in the 3D view and not only the selected level (and the ones below it), select the 3D view > Display all levels menu item.

Levels viewed with Display all levels option selected

Customizing staircases

The height of staircases in furniture libraries is set in such a way that the elevation of their last step is at 262 cm, which matches the default elevation of upper floors in Sweet Home 3D (i.e. 250 cm default wall height + 12 cm default floor thickness).

If this default height doesn't match the floor elevation of the level of your home, you'll have to adjust the height of the staircase with its height indicator in the plan or with its modification dialog box displayed with a double click or with the Furniture > Modify menu item. The height of each step will change proportionnaly to the height of the staircase object but as long you don't enlarge or reduce it too much, you will never be too far of the standard height of a step (generally around 20 cm or 7 inch).
If the handrail or the curve of the staircase is on the wrong side, select the Mirrored shape option in the modification dialog box.
If you want handrails on both sides of a straight staircase, copy/paste a staircase at the same place and select this Mirrored shape option for the pasted staircase.

But the staircases added in the furniture library 1.6 offer more customization: the color and texture of their different parts (baluster, handrail, riser, tread...) can be modified separately using their Furniture materials dialog box displayed with the Modify button of their modification pane. From version 5.2, you can even hide some parts of a staircase using the new Invisible option available for each material, as shown in the following examples.

If you want to show a handrail attached to the wall without baluster, there's also a separate rail that you can customize:

Finally don't forget to add handrails at the upper level if you don't want visitors to fall:


Indicating staircase up direction

Last but not least, a nice plan should indicate the up direction of a staircase. A perfect use case for the polylines tool added to Sweet Home 3D 5.0!
First, select the Plan > Create Polylines menu item, and draw the line you need with two or more points, directly on the staircase. Then, customize this line with the dialog box shown by Plan > Modify Polylines menu item (or by simply double-clicking on the drawn line), to display an arrow at its end and change other attributes.

Add lights and here's a nice waiting room!

If you're interested, the final scene created in this tip is available in the file RoomWithStaircase.sh3d (1.4 MB), and in case you want to design your own staircase, you might find the following documents helpful:

Many thanks to OKH for the very nice collection of staircases he created.

Re: How to customize staircases

Yeah wonderful information about staircases in Sweethome 3D ! Very good work thanks a lot !

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