If you are planning on installing exterior stairs for your outdoor deck or upper level entrance into your home, you will have plenty of choices and options. In fact, depending on your budget, you can choose from ornately crafted stone or rock stairs or install a simpler wooden stair well made out of pressure treated lumber. While there are many options to choose from, here are some things to consider that might make the choice a little easier.
Choosing a Material for the Stairs
Your choices for exterior stairs will usually begin with the material that will be used to create the stairwell or treads of the stairs. With exterior stairs, you usually have the option of choosing metal, concrete, stone or even wooden stairs. The type of stairs you choose will depend on your budget and the amount of maintenance that you want to perform on your exterior stairwell.
If you're looking for the most durable type of stair wells for the outside of your home, you may want to consider concrete, rock or stone. These types of stairs also require the least amount of maintenance. In fact, a concrete or rock staircase usually requires little more than the occasional washing with a water hose and the high-pressure spray nozzle.
On the other hand, if you're looking for the least expensive option, you'll probably want choose stairs made out of pressure treated lumber. This is not to say that stairs made out of this type of material cannot be beautiful. To the contrary, when properly finished, wooden stairs are some of the most beautiful available. However, exterior stairs made out of pressure treated lumber will require constant maintenance. You will need to either stain or paint them frequently to keep the wood from rotting or becoming infected with disease or parasites.
Metal stairs are a great compromise between costly stone stairs or wooden stairs that require a lot of maintenance. Stairs made out of wrought iron are quite popular for use on the exterior of homes and require far less maintenance than wooden stairs. They are also much less expensive than creating a concrete or stone stairwell. They are not that much more expensive than wooden stairs and require less maintenance.
Regardless of the type of stairwell or treads you use on your exterior stairway, you can choose to use another type of material for the hand railing and spindles. In fact, you can create some very interesting types of exterior stairs by mixing and matching materials for the treads and hand railings. A very common example would be concrete stairs that use wrought iron hand railing and spindles. However, you can use any type of material you choose for the hand railing in most cases.
If you'll be installing exterior stairs to an upper level entrance that is used quite often, you might want to consider the safety and escape route implications. For instance, if you are installing exterior stairs on the side of your home to reach a loft or attic that is used as a bedroom, and the stairway is the only escape exit, then a set of wooden stairs may not be the best idea. In the event of fire, burning stair treads or railings may prevent a person from escaping from the upper level floor. In this case, metal or concrete stairs are probably a better option.