BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Friday 1 April 2016

Revit Stair Subcategories and Materials

Last year I posted a detailed description of what the 'new' stair component subcategories do in different views - plan vs section.
It seems that I missed something - Dan Stine (author of several Revit text books) has pointed out that the Treads/Risers subcategory does actually have an effect in plan views:
It controls the materials and surface patterns of the treads.  I did some testing to understand the subtleties of how this works. . . . .

Here I am using my subcategory visibility colour overrides to make it easier to see what is being controlled by which subcategory.

 Normally turning the 'Treads/Risers' subcategory seems to have no effect in a plan view.
This would be the case for one of two reasons:
  • If your monolithic stair run does not have a separate tread
  • If the stair run does have a tread, but the tread material does not have any surface pattern
Tread material - Run type property
Material properties of stair run tread

However, if the material of the tread is changed so that it has a surface pattern, this will display in a plan view

It looks different depending on the visual style of the view:
Hidden Line View with tiles on treads
Shaded View with tiles on treads
Realistic View with tiles on treads

If you then hide the Treads/Risers subcategory, the tread material will no longer be displayed.  Instead it will display the material of the underlying stair structure - if it is monolithic, that would most likely be concrete.

We normally do not have a surface pattern on concrete because it would show up in too many views.  However, if you do have a surface pattern, it will show once you have hidden the treads

Hidden Line - concrete surface pattern
Shaded View - concrete surface pattern
Realistic View - monolithic concrete stair

Really Weird Stair Stuff

In order to hide the surface pattern of the underlying monolithic material in a plan view, you have to turn off both 'Nosing Line' & 'Riser Lines' subcategories.  Turn off just one or other of them and you hide the lines, but not the material surface pattern.  That makes no sense to me.
Plan subcategories for materials

 How do you hide the material of the underlying monolithic structure?
  1. Make sure the material does not have a surface pattern, and view it in Hidden Line or Shaded View.  Or:
  2. Turn off the 'Nosing Line' and 'Riser Lines' subcategories.  That could be frustrating if you need to see the nosing or riser lines themselves!  
    Or (the better solution):
  3. Go to the Surface Pattern override for the whole stair;  untick the Pattern Overrides 'Visible' checkbox (won't work in a realistic view)
        The Pattern will then list as 'Hidden'

Which one of the three solutions you choose depends on exactly the result you are after, and on what Visual Style setting you have for the view.

For a Realistic View, you can hide the tread material (by Tread/Riser subcategory) but cannot hide the underlying monolithic material at all.

Material Linestyle Overrides 

Unlike the actual linework of the stairs, the lines within the surface patterns cannot have their weight or linestyle overridden in the Visibility Graphics dialog - they follow the standard rules for hatching lines.  The colour can be overridden, but you have to change the overall stair category pattern colour override, not the subcategory line colour override.  This means that the button to click on for colour override is quite different to the location of the 'Treads/Risers' subcategory visibility control checkbox(es).

The actual hatching pattern can be overridden from the same dialog - this allows you to choose a totally different pattern just for that view.  If you set it to "No Pattern", it just clears the override, rather than temporarily removing the pattern as an override - which is frustrating if that was the result that you wanted, particularly if you just tried to override one element, not all in that view.

The line weight of the surface patterns cannot be overridden by view, but that is another story . . . .


  1. Hi, thank you for this it has been very helpful today as I finally spend some time improving my understanding of stairs and railings. One question please - your images above highlight one problem I have just discovered in that the TILE material you applied to the treads does not display correctly in PLAN i.e. the tile pattern cannot be adjusted and aligned with the nosings BUT you can manipulate the pattern in a 3D view ?????
    Do you have any insight into this?

    1. Hi Ian, you are absolutely right - this is because a Revit plan view of a stair is a special kind of 2D representation of the stair (and railing). It is not a true 3D representation, unlike sections, elevations and 3D views. In the 2D representation, the programmers made some weird decisions, including the inability to modify material hatching. One way around this would be to create a "Plan Detail" view - however that bring its own problems (search this blog for more on that - eg. Stair Path Arrows can't be added). Or maybe you could create a section view, then rotate it to horizontal (in a perpendicular view) - I have not tried that so it may not work.