Building Portable Steps

There are many reasons you may want to consider creating your own portable steps. You may want them for a recreational vehicle, or an above ground pool or spa.  Many people will use them while a deck or patio is being built. Whatever the reason, you can find many applications for these types of stairs. Here’s what you need to know to build your own set.

Supplies Needed

-Yard Sticks
-Treated Stair Stringers
-Treated 2X4’s
-Treated 4X4’s
-1X6 Steps
-Deck Screws
-Drill Or Electric Screwdriver
-Tape Measure
-Wood Glue (optional)


The most important part of your project is proper planning. The amount of lumber you will need will depend on the size of the portable staircase. Taking accurate measurements will help you create a safe set of stairs. Use your yard stick to measure where the top stair needs to be versus the ground it will sit on. You want to remember that an average stair width is 36 inches. Depending on your needs you may want to go slightly wider, but never narrower than this for safety reasons. You can now write all your measurements down and take them with you to the lumber yard to purchase what you need.


You will want to purchase treated stringers for your steps. The reason you want to make sure all of your wood is treated is for durability. Treated lumber is going to last a lot longer. Untreated the stairs may start to weaken in as little as a few months, and this can pose serious dangers with your stairs. Generally a 4 or 5 step stringer is large enough for most portable stairs. If you need then to be larger, you can find 7 step stringers.

Boards Needed

You will need 1X6 boards for the steps. You will want two of these for each step you are building. So if you have 4 steps you will want to purchase at least 8 boards. You can have these cut to the width of the step at most lumber yards. If they won’t cut them for you, you can cut them yourself at home with a saw. You will also want 2X4’s for support, usually 4 of these will be enough. Purchase 4X4’s for the uprights. You want to make sure all the wood is treated, again, for durability.

Start Building

You will want to put your stringers at least 36 inches apart. (If you’ve chosen wider stairs, then use this measurement instead.) Attach the 2X4’s to the stringers with a crisscross pattern.

Now you will want to attach the uprights to the stringer .

Place two boards down for each step. Don’t secure them yet, you want to make sure they are fit and even along the edges. Once you know they are even you can use the drill and deck screws to attach the stairs to the form. Leave the top stair unattached for now.

You will want to measure and cut the section from the top step that will go around the upright. Once this is done you can secure the top stair.

You can stabilize the stairs by attaching 2X4’s to the back of the uprights. You may want to consider attaching them to the front for added support. While the more wood will make the stairs sturdier, it can also make the portable stairs heavier. Very heavy stairs won’t be as portable, so remember this.

And that’s it! You now have your own set of portable stairs for whatever you need them for.