How to Frame an Outdoor Stair
Over time, the steps of an outdoor stair can become weather damaged, or sag due to aging foundations. When this happens, the steps may become dangerous, slanting visibly, or even wobbling underfoot. When this happens, you need to put a frame around the stairs to prevent further damage, and also to keep the steps supported. This can be done by a professional builder, but if you are a keen DIYer, and want to try your hand at fixing the steps yourself, then following a few simple rules can help you to do this job in a few hours.
Step 1 - Preparing the Stairs
The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure that the stairs are clear, and as free from damage and chips as possible. Wash your steps with a warm soapy water, and leave to dry. Stabilize the stairs as best you can by adding stones and loose bricks to the mud beneath each step. Use a cement to fix these pieces in place temporarily, and allow this to dry before attempting any fixes.
Step 2 - Building the Frame
Once the steps have dried, take a piece of plywood, and stand it upright from the outer corner of the bottom step. Take a second piece of plywood, and extend it from the top step until it meets the upright. Join these two pieces together with a nail. Do the same for the other side, and lay the triangles out on their respective sides. Take the first timber you joined, and place the top length against your step.
If it is made of wood, nail the joint to the side of the step, and do the same for the bottom step. If you have concrete stairs, cement the pieces in place. Next take another piece of plywood, and attach it to the second stair. Lift it upright until it reaches the first piece of timber, and then cut and nail into place. Repeat until all of your stairs have an upright timber. Now nail plywood boards lengthways across these timbers until you get a wall-like effect. Cement all of the pieces in place, and repeat on the other side.
Step 3 - Fixing the Steps
Your steps should now be supported by the frame on both sides. You can now add several large pieces of plywood, and lay them across the underside of each step. Nail to the sides of the frames. The steps are now slightly supported, and should be level. In this position, make up some concrete, and pour this into the gaps which are now visible between the stairs and the supports.
You should be able to pour the cement around the stones and bricks used to prop up the steps, but if not remove these, and use a mesh to keep the concrete in place while it dries. Make sure that your steps are fitted to the back of the support before pouring cement on top of them, in order to ensure that they are well balanced.