How Tall is a Storey in Feet?

Downtown Chicago at night

The height of each storey in a building is based on ceiling height, floor thickness, and building material — with a general average of about 14 feet. Not every level is considered a storey: while a basement is usually considered to be storey, a level without a roof (like a terrace or rooftop) is not technically a storey. 

How tall is a storey in feet when it comes to the different levels of a building? While most levels between the ground level and top level will have a floor to ceiling height of about 14 feet, lower levels and partial levels have different minimum or maximum heights.


How Tall is a Building Storey?

Building story height varies widely from just under the 14-foot average to well above it. That’s because several factors affect the storeys-to-feet standard for a building: building material, insulation type, and different height allowances for different levels.

Storeys within a building aren’t required to be the same height. For example, a building lobby is often taller than the storeys above. Levels near the top may have less floor area than those beneath. The larger base storeys and smaller top of the Willis Tower demonstrate this principle. Willis Tower incorporates design innovations that mean it doesn’t require center columns for stability — so there’s plenty of floor space for lots of family-friendly exhibits on the 109th floor!

Story height is also limited based on building material and insulation thickness. Take a look at how max story height changes based on material:

  • Wood wall framing – Max storey height of 11 feet, 7 inches.
  • Cold-formed steel wall framing – Max story height of 11 feet, 7 inches.
  • Masonry walls – Max story height of 13 feet, 7 inches.
  • Insulated concrete form walls – Max story height of 11 feet, 7 inches; max unsupported wall height per story of 10 feet.
  • Structural insulated panel walls – Max story height of 11 feet, 7 inches; bearing wall height per story of 10 feet.

Storey Height by Building Level

Although there are story height maximums for safety purposes, storeys to feet within the same building can vary. How tall is a storey by building level? How many feet in a storey can change depending on story function and location within the building: 

  • Top storey / Attic  – At least 50% of the usable area must have ceilings of at least 7 feet.
  • Mezzanine – A partial floor typically located halfway between the ground floor and second floor.
  • Main Floor/Lobby – In the United States, we call the first floor the “ground floor.” In most of Europe, the “first floor” is actually the second level!
  • Upper Ground – A main entrance floor about a meter above ground.
  • Garden Level – A storey situated between a basement and first floor.
  • Lower Ground – A storey two meters below ground, just beneath the upper ground level.
  • Basement – The portion of a building between two floor levels that is partly underground but has at least one-half of its height above pre-development ground level (natural grade).
  • Crawl Space  – A space at or below natural grade, typically located between the joists of the floor above and the floor slab below, and height of 3.9 feet or less. 
  • Basement – A level with at least one-half of its height above average natural grade and and height of at least 7.5 feet.
  • Cellar – A storage level beneath lower ground level and height of at least 7.5 feet.

Just How High is 110 Storeys? Find Out with Skydeck!

Now that you know storey height is variable, how tall is a story in feet when it comes to Chicago’s tallest building? Willis Tower reaches 110 floors — and a staggering height of 1,450 feet! It’s one thing to read the number on screen, but a family trip to the Skydeck shows you what that height really looks like! Contact Skydeck Chicago to plan your group visit or special event on the 109th floor today.

Important Notice Regarding COVID-19

Willis Tower and Skydeck Chicago have implemented measures consistent with CDC and local and federal guidance to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the premises, including enhanced cleaning protocols. Even with these procedures in place, PLEASE BE ADVISED that building occupants, building and Skydeck visitors, or others currently or previously present upon this property and/or the Skydeck MAY HAVE CONTRACTED OR BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, and may expose you. By accessing and using building common areas, the Skydeck, and their associated amenities, you and your party voluntarily assume all risks of your use—INCLUDING THE RISK OF EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE—and you waive all claims, including claims for negligence, against Willis Tower, Skydeck Chicago, and their respective owners, managers, affiliates, agents and representatives, arising out of such use. The above parties hereby disclaim all liability for any injuries arising out of your use of this property and the Skydeck, including exposure to infectious disease.

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