Common Problems with Exterior Wood Stairs

Wood stairs are an attractive feature that can be used in many different settings within the average home. However, by their very nature, exterior wood stairs can develop problems of various types. Some come from wear and tear while some come from other sources.

Rotting Wood

One of the most common problems with exterior wood stairs is that the wood rots. The main cause of this is because the wood being used hasn’t been treated for the outdoors or finished with a sealer. If, for example, you have a step that’s rotting, you shouldn’t attempt to fix it. You need to replace the step entirely and check any others for possible rot. Rotting steps are a safety issue so they should be attended to as quickly as possible. Once the wood has been replaced with replacement treated wood, cover it with sealer or paint.

Flaking Paint

Where the wood is subject to heavy wear, such as on exterior wood stairs, the paint on the wood will wear and flake. The flaking can be due to the effect of the weather or because the paint was originally applied to a surface that was covered in grease and dirt. To fix this problem, you need to use a scraper to remove all of the loose paint then sand the wood smooth before repainting. Make sure you allow ample time for the paint to dry before using the stairs.


The wood on wooden stairs can crack over time. This usually come about because the wood expands and contracts in the weather and moisture enters; this can lead to the cracks over time. If you don’t treat these cracks, they will eventually rot and you’ll need to replace the entire stair. The simple solution is to use filler on the cracks after you've removed all the loose wood. The filler will expand and contract, just like the wood and stop more moisture entering.


Moisture can cause a problem on exterior wood stairs. Generally, there’s a specific reason for the moisture that has caused mold. This might be from a leak in a gutter or from water running off a roof or deck roof.

Before you can eliminate the mold problem on the wood stairs, you need to fix the cause of the moisture. Once you’ve done that, use a fungicide on the wood stairs to take away the mold then rinse thoroughly and give the wood time to dry completely. After this, use paint or sealant on the wood to prevent the problem recurring.

Discolored Wood

You’re only going to end up with discolored wood if you use bare wood without a treatment. Usually, you’ll use bare wood because you prefer the natural look and don't like the potential discoloration caused by a treatment.

You can restore wood to it's proper condition by using wood cleaner to take away the discoloration. Complete the task by using a natural finish sealant on the wood stairs.