Building Simple Stairs

These instruction cover the construction of simple stairs for a deck.

Simple Stairs

For complete instructions on planning and building stairs. If the deck is less than 2 feet above grade and you need only a set of standard steps, you can simplify the process. A standard step has a rise (vertical distance) of 6 to 8 inches and a run (horizontal distance) of 10 to 12 inches.

You may end the stairs on a landing made of either concrete or patio pavers. Or you can suspend the steps (as shown here) above the ground until the landing is installed.

Home centers sell precut stringers. This is the simplest solution if you need only a few steps. These usually have 7-inch rises and 11-inch runs. Cut the top of a precut stringer to fit against the deck joist. You may need to cut the bottom so that the last step is shorter than the others.

The method shown on this page works if you have one or two steps. You can adapt the dimensions to suit your site. If possible make all the steps (including the bottom step) the same height.

Prestart Checklist

Once the landing is installed, a couple of hours to construct and attach a simple step or two

Tape measure, circular saw, drill, hammer, carpenter's level, layout square

Figuring rise and run for a couple of steps, measuring and cutting boards, fastening with nails or screws

Determine stair location and dimensions

Lumber for framing and treads, hurricane ties, stake

Step 1

Build a simple box frame for the step from 2x6 or 2x8 pressure-treated lumber. If the treads are 5/4 decking, add a cross support every 16 inches; if they're 2xs, add a support every 24 inches. Attach the box to the outside joist with hurricane ties and add a spike to avoid twisting.

Step 2

Cut the treads to length and fasten them in place using 2-inch fasteners for 5/4-inch decking (shown above) or 3-inch fasteners for 2x treads.

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One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!