There are several different methods for installing curved deck steps. Some involve purchasing kits or ready-made steps, while others can be extremely complex. Luckily for most people, there are some simple steps that even a novice home builder can use to install a professional-looking set of curved deck steps.
Step 1: The Key to Curved Steps
The most important aspect of installing curved deck steps is to set the degree or angle of the curve. To do this, use a protractor and draw out the curve, measure the degree of the turn. A bevel square is a tool used to set an angle for carpentry work. To set it, loosen the wing nut on one end, and slide the metal bar outward to the desired angle and then tighten the wing nut down. This angle is the key to building a set of curved steps.
Step 2: The First Riser
When building decks or other wood projects, making some sort of template can save you a great deal of hassle. For this example, the first tread will be the piece used to mark the rest of the steps. Using the bevel square, which is already pre-set for the correct angle, mark a riser. Lay the metal edge of the square so that it begins at the inside corner of the tread's long side and gradually extends inward along the length of the wood. Mark a line along the side of the metal bar facing the deck side of the tread. With a carpenter's level, extend the mark across the length of the riser. Cut the riser.
Step 3: Pre-Cutting
Using the first tread, mark and cut the remaining risers. As each one is cut, you can place them together, edge to edge, to describe the curve being defined. If each tread contains more than one piece of material, each piece must be cut with the same angle.
Step 4: Step Posts
You will need to set two posts for each step, using 4 x 4 material. The height of each pair will be flush with the bottom of that tread. Using long screws, attach a piece of 2 x 4 between each post. These boards will support treads. This is not the most elegant method, but it is a simple way to achieve our goal with minimum expense and experience. Alternatives include purchasing precut stringers or boxing in the steps with plywood.
Step 5: Install the Treads
Place each piece of material in place, starting at the top and working down the steps. Attach the treads using 2-inch wood screws. When all of the treads have been installed, use a jigsaw and trim the outer curve to smooth out the slight corners produced by the angled tread cuts.
Step 6: Handrails
If more than 3 steps are involved, it is a good idea to install handrails. This helps to prevent falls, and prevents someone from accidentally stepping off the edge, a common mistake on curved steps. Most hardware stores will have handrail assemblies in both wood and metal designs that can be attached directly to the top of the treads.