BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Thursday 1 April 2021

Rustic Railings in Revit

There has been a lot of talk over the years about just how hard the Revit stair and railing tools are to work with.

I decided to do an experiment - and see how long it took to build an actual stair and railing vs building the same thing in Revit.

I chose to build a rustic-style stair as it was outdoors in a wild garden setting.

Rustic Stair and Railing Hackathon

I thought I had better give Revit a fighting chance by not zeroing in on one of Revit's biggest railing weaknesses:  "Baluster Spacing"

  • So I decided not to include any balusters at all.  

Technical Details

  • The stairs were made from hand-hewn sandstone, with irregular shapes and slightly differing tread widths;  riser heights were near enough the same for each step.  Stones were carved to exact size and placed without mortar - exactly how the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Aztecs et al worked their stone structures.
  • Railing was made from locally sourced Melaleuca timber - hand-cut on site:  Two posts and one 'Top Rail', all sourced from the same tree.  The top post and handrail were left to cure in the open for several weeks;  the lower post was cut and installed the next day.
  • The handrail was fixed to the posts with tuppenny nails.
  • Real stairs and railings were built without any drawings - I couldn't wait for those to be finished.
  • The virtual stairs/railings were created using the "New" stair tools (post Revit 2013) & the "Old" railing tools (circa v2 with minor improvements in v2013)

Finished Product

The finished stair and railing

Unfortunately I don't have an image from Revit, because it was created in a later version that I could not open with my current version of Revit.

The Stats

  • The real stair took approximately 18 months, done a few hours at a time at weekends.
  • The real handrail was build about a year later - it took approximately 2 months, again done at weekends.
  • The virtual stair took 5.5 years, including waiting time between Revit versions - hoping that problems encountered had been fixed in the next version.
  • The virtual railing is still unfinished, awaiting software improvements.

Problems Encountered

  • The lower railing post was obviously installed too quickly after cutting, as it started to sprout a few weeks later (inadequate curing time).
  • I really struggled with applying the virtual stair hand-cut stone materials to the treads, especially in 2D plans.
  • Without any balusters on the virtual railing, the 'Building Inspector' would not give approval to the railing.

The Winner

Hands down winner was the real stair/railing:

  • It was so much easier and quicker to build the real thing than attempting a virtual model.
  • It was very therapeutic working manually on the stone and timber at weekends after a hard week of Reviteering.
  • It was ever so slightly less therapeutic grappling with the virtual tools for stairs and railings in Revit.


1st April 2021 (Australia).


  1. You will write like this about revit 2022, will you ? :D

    1. I think I will be complimentary about Revit 2022 - for the first time in a decade they have actually given us a worthwhile amount of new features in the annual release. However, there is nothing new for Railings or Stairs, so they are still a problem.