Building Portable Steps

  • 4-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-40
What You'll Need
Yard sticks
Treated stair stringers
Treated 2x4s
Treated 4x4s
1x6 steps
Deck screws
Drill or electric screwdriver
Tape measure
Wood glue (optional)

There are many reasons 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, there are many applications for these types of stairs. Here’s what you need to know to build your own set.


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 to create a safe set of stairs. Use your yardstick to measure where the top stair needs to be versus the ground it will sit on. Remember that an average stair width is 36 inches. Depending on your needs you may need to go slightly wider, but never narrower than this for safety reasons. Write all your measurements down and take them with you to the lumber yard to purchase what you need.


Purchase treated stringers for your steps. Make sure all of your wood is treated for durability reasons. 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 four- or five-step stringer is large enough for most portable stairs. If you need then to be larger, you can find seven-step stringers.

Boards Needed

You will need 1x6 boards for the steps. You will need two of these for each step you are building. So if you have four steps you will need to purchase at least eight boards. You can have these cut to the width of the step at most lumberyards. If they won’t cut them for you, you can cut them yourself at home with a saw. You will also need 2x4s for support, usually, four of these will be enough. Purchase 4x4s for the uprights. Make sure all the wood is treated for durability.

Start Building

Place the new stringers at least 36 inches apart. (If you’ve chosen wider stairs, then use this measurement instead.) Attach the 2x4s to the stringers with a crisscross pattern.

Now, attach the uprights to the stringer.

Place two boards down for each step. Don’t secure them yet, make sure they are fit and even along the edges. Once 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.

Measure and cut the section from the top step that will go around the upright. Once this is done, secure the top stair.

Stabilize the stairs by attaching 2x4s to the back of the uprights. Consider attaching them to the front for added support. While more wood will make the stairs sturdier, it can also make the portable stairs heavier. Very heavy stairs won’t be as portable.

And that’s it. You now have your own set of portable stairs.