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Riser Height Calculator - Page 2

post #31 of 152
Thread Starter 
No. It should be as tall as it needs to be, to allow the rear viewers to see all of the screen, over the heads of the front viewers. If that's less than 12", then it's less than 12".

post #32 of 152
Yes, but for the cool effect of going up a step on to a riser just seems pointless if it is only 2"-6" tall. I want them to feel like they are really in a stadium seated theater. The illusion works better if it is atleast 10" or taller.
post #33 of 152
Thread Starter 

As long as it's at least as high as it NEEDS to be, you can make it as high as think looks good. Keep in mind that most steps are around 8 or 9 inches high. If you go much higher than that, say 12 inches, you might want to put in a step, or it might look and feel too high.

post #34 of 152
Since I am an HT builder in the Midwest, and lot of my jobs are in basements, I get this a lot.

Your absolute FIRST concern is not to violate building codes or compromise safety. I have been doing LOS (line of sight) charts for multi-row theaters for many years, and I thank you guys for the application. Sometimes low ceiling height requires that I cannot build the riser to the optimal height.

Different communities have different requirements for minimum ceiling height for an inhabited space, and many times it is tied to a maximum amount of the floor area/ceiling area. Your code may read something like this:

"In habitable rooms, ceiling height not less than 7' over 50% of room area.
Remaining area 5' minimum. Minimum height under duct and beams not less than 6'-4'."

This one is based on the BOCA code I believe.
It is a little vague, and many areas have tons of amendments.

I definitely wouldn't count on a favorable inspection using the 5' minimum for 49% of a room... and that wouldn't be safe anyway.
That portion was intended more for the sloped ceilings of attic spaces and other areas where the ceiling slopes with the roof line.

If you go by the 6'-4" clearance, this means your 7'-6" basement gets a 12-13" max riser by default. Keep in mind that pad and carpet will add some height. 6'-4" is pretty low, you may want to experiment standing on a stepladder or with a temporary platform to see if you would be comfortable that close to the ceiling. You don't want to re-do a riser...

Many times this will not be the ideal riser height by the calculator, but safety must come first.
Consult an architect and/or your local building inspector before you push the envelope.

In these cases, compromise and creativity are required.
If your guests are constantly hitting their heads when they step up on the riser, or stand up from the seats, they will be seeing stars, not your properly laid out stadium seating theater.

Some ways to improve LOS in low ceiling applications:

1) Choose taller seats in the rear row(s)
Continental is one company that makes a "tall" chair to match a popular model that is like 5-6" higher than the matching regular height model that we would use in the front.
This way the seated height is higher, but the riser height and standing headroom are still acceptable.

2) Make the front row the "money" seats, and choose non-reclining chairs for the riser that can be placed closer to the front row.
Irwin and a few others make nice non-recline chairs that are exact replicas of commercial theater chairs in the industrial upholstery or finer finishes. If you match the upholstery these chairs do not look out of place, and kids love them.

3) Raise the height of the screen a few more inches
If the rear rom are your money seats, you will want to LOS to be as close to perfect as possible. You don't want the front rows to be craning their necks up either, nobody wants a stiff neck after a movie. Be careful how much you modify this dimension.

Depending on ceiling height, basement theaters will get usually get a 5-8" step up riser or a 10-15" two step riser, and even with the creative planning for the seating and screen height, the LOS is sometimes slightly compromised.

IMO, this is still the appropriate way to plan.

The building code requires that a step in a home is no greater than 8" per step, and the run (tread depth) is no shorter than 9".

Above 8", you have to install a step on each side and that eats floorspace and/or riser space. A 10-12" run on a tread height that is half the riser height is the rule for us, no higher than 16" of course, or a third step is req'd.
Also, 4 or more steps require a handrail in any area, and in some areas it is 3 or more steps.

DIY theater guys need to heed the building codes if you ever want to sell your homes down the road. Otherwise some of your theater budget for your new home will be spent making changes to the theater you are leaving before you can sell the house.
post #35 of 152
Wish I had this when I was building. Your recommended riser height is 8 7/16". I built mine 9" and the back row can easily see over the front. Thank you so much for doing this. It will save others a countless amount of time.
post #36 of 152
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

If you are going to do a riser shouldn't it be atleast a foot tall?

This may be obvious to most but FYI, Most building codes call for a maximum riser height of 8-1/4". So a 12" landing height should have a 6" step between the lower and upper level.

By the way. Thanks for the AMAZING calculator. Everyone is so helpful here!
post #37 of 152
I actually ended up going with a 10" riser with a step all around it. It actually came out really nice...
post #38 of 152
You guys give me a headache! What am I missing?

My front screen wall is 10ft... I'm going to mount the screen so the top is at the 8ft mark... that seems to look the best when seated.

When I make my rear riser, I was just going to make it 7", which is the height that 4seating.com makes their risers?

Seems like this is being made more complicated than it needs too.???
post #39 of 152
quick question for you guys... having a too big of a riser bad? also what is the max ceiling basement height allowed? Because i'm going to be moving in a new house, and was wondering so i can get my floor plans done... here is a quick layout of the theater room...
20'x30'xH?' (WxLxH) room. The Pj will be mounted about 20-23ft back from the wall... and was thinking 2 rows of seating(5xrecliners each row), the first row 15-18ft back, Was also thinking about getting floor shakers too...
with all that in mind, what should the riser height be?(i also have a tall family, like everyone is above 6ft)
how high should be the ceiling?
how far from the ground should the screen be?
any suggestions and help would be much appreciated...
also if the basement wont work, i could always put it on the second floor, but would prefer it in the basement... thanks

post #40 of 152
As mentioned earlier in this thread, good sightlines are the result of many variables which include riser dimensions. I still believe in a good drawing (in scale) instead of mathematical formulas. When you draw your floor plan, expand it to show a section through the room. Here is a typical sightline drawing without dimensions. You may of course simplify - the idea is to show the basic geometry.
post #41 of 152
I have been trying to find some sort of formula to calculate the height of a single riser for approx. one month. Nice job, quick and easy answer to my question, Thanks, BG!!!!
post #42 of 152
anyone else getting "page cannot be displayed" errors for the riser calc link?
post #43 of 152
Thread Starter 
I just tried it and got the same message. You can always use the formulas. It takes a little longer, but gives the same answer!

post #44 of 152
Originally Posted by richh View Post

anyone else getting "page cannot be displayed" errors for the riser calc link?

Sorry, I actually have this hosted through my dsl line right now so it isn't 100% reliable. Should be back up and running now.
post #45 of 152
Got to the page with no problem at all


post #46 of 152
Just found this thread, and am almost to the point of building my riser, thanks so much
post #47 of 152
Are there any standards for the optimal height for a viewer with a given screen height? ie SMPTE?


post #48 of 152
good info thanks
post #49 of 152
I can put the link to this on my yahoo storage space if you can send it to me. Can we get the fantastic link back up again?

post #50 of 152
Thanks for the riser calculator it worked like a charm!
post #51 of 152
I've been playing around with Jake's riser calculator and getting a some ideas about riser height. However, I'm having some trouble with some of the measurements -- I've placed an order for some home theater seating, but I don't actually have it yet (from which to take the measurements).

Does anyone have a set of Studio Collection seating that could help me with some measurements? The numbers I'm missing are the "height of seated front row viewers top of head" and the "height of rear row viewers eyes". (I've found some dimensions for the seating, but without knowing the height of the back, I can't really figure out those numbers.)
post #52 of 152
Oh no, link seems to be down. Time to plug the formula into Excel...
post #53 of 152
For those off-line, here's a spreadsheet calculator.



HT Multirow Riser Height Calculator.zip 41.9345703125k . file
post #54 of 152
Originally Posted by dell4200gambler View Post

Oh no, link seems to be down. Time to plug the formula into Excel...

I got a new Router (3com 3030) so my connection *should* be much more reliable now.

Don't forget, everytime you open microsoft office:
a kitten dies/an angel loses it's wings/the animated paperclip steals some of your soul
er something like that....

post #55 of 152
Originally Posted by trunks View Post

What I would like to do is make a new calculator, this will be much more complex and take some time, but here are my ideas:

this will require room height, width, length. It will make a recommendation for number of riser levels, but allow the user to select how many they actually want (IE room size will allow for 3 riser levels, which script recommends, but user only actually wants 2 in room...) it will have defaults for several items, but all of course are user changeable: 4' riser for standard theater seats, 5' for nonreclining chairs/sofa, 6' for recliners (In my experience these approximate numbers usually work pretty good).
It will then give recommendations for riser height/placement, screen placement and maximum size (limited by riser visibility, or SMPTE/THX viewing angle for closest row)
Any recommendations? Hopefully I can have this done in a week or two (don't have a lot of free time)

Has there been any progress on this?
post #56 of 152
In my opinion, you may want to put in the different chair companies and chair models available on the market, and start from there as another input along with room constraints, etc.. although, sometimes riser decisions involve more factors than just math. I wrote about this a couple of years ago in Home Theater Builder (Whatever happened to them??):

post #57 of 152
Originally Posted by KristiSwallow View Post

Has there been any progress on this?

Sorry, this is far from the top of my todo list (down at the bottom with all the other projects that won't do anything for my retirement fund)

Maybe someday...
post #58 of 152
Just wanted to also thank you folks for this fine calculator...

Like I always try to do, before starting a thread on riser height, I figured I'd do a search to see if the topic had already been exhaustively covered and it obviously has...

Thanks again...
post #59 of 152
Just one comment - earlier in the thread someone is talking about risers, ceiling heights and code violations. this wouldn't be a problem if I make it a temporary riser, right? My basement is already carpeted, so I figured, just lay a riser on top (not nailed down), and carpet that as well. It should look ok, and can be moved/removed/disassembled at any time.
post #60 of 152
what is the link to the riser calculator
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