deck steps


Old 02-04-00, 01:54 PM
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I have the exact opposite problem as gordon, We bought a house that was made wheelchair accessible, and there was a ramp from the deck on the side of the house. We would like to build steps down from the deck to replace the ramp. I am new at this, so would it be easier to pay someone to build the steps or is it easy enough for me to do myself?
Old 02-05-00, 05:03 PM
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Shana, how comfortable are you at carpentry?

Building steps or stairs can be a real charge or a real challenge. Usually they are not too much of a challenge.

As a rule of thumb. . .the sum of the height of a riser and the depth of a tread should equal between 17" and 18". Best riser height is between 7" and 8". The sum of two risers and one tread should be between 24" and 25".

The width of the tread should be at least 36". Wider is better. 3'2" to 3'4" is preferred, but an outside deck stair is best built to suit you and look like it was intended that way.

The stringers for the stair should be made from 2x12. The treads could be either 2x10 or 2x12, and the risers can be 2x6, 2x8, 1x6, or 1x8. All should be CCA.

CCA is the wood preservative most commonly used. It is a copper, chromium, and arsenate mixture.

Find the the total rise (vertical distance) and divide it by the intended riser height. Start with the 7. This is your number of risers. Disregard the fraction. To get the individual (unit) rise, divide the total rise by the number of risers. This is the height of each riser.

Using the 17" to 18" rule subtract the riser height and the remainder is your recommended tread depth.

You could predetermine where you want the steps to end and divide the number of risers into that number to calculate the tread depth.

Use a framing square and "step off" the riser and tread height on a stringer. Repeat the stepping off process. Count the correct number of steps to be cut before you cut the board to length. It is better to have an extra than to be too short.

If necessary, rip the treads to their respective widths and cut them to their approx. 3 foot lengths (if that's what you choose). You might need to cut at least 3 full stringers to eliminate any possibility of sag in your stair treads.

When you assemble the parts the riser boards go on before the treads. On an outside stair, riser boards are optional and not necessary. Then attach the treads. Keep in mind that you can cut the tread depths wider if you want overlap.

Attaching the stringers to the deck has many variables. Your choice on methods and techniques. Your stair should have a handrail and probably spindles. The pattern should match the existing deck.

This is not as confusing or demanding as it may read, but if you are unsure of your capabilities don't hesitate calling a full-time carpenter. He should be happy to help you out. Some of them may not want to tackle a small job though. (of course, I would do it!)

Any questions can be redirected to me here in this forum; at my website below, by e-mail to Hope this all helps.


[This message has been edited by More than a Carpenter (edited March 29, 2000).]
Old 02-05-00, 08:17 PM
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Thank you so much for your reply. You're right it seems complicated to read, but I think I may give it a go.

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