How would the ultimate prefab stairs for your patio or deck look? What materials would be used for its construction? At the end of this short article your “ultimate” will be a clear picture in your mind’s eye.
- Is the application functional or must it blend with its surroundings? If your needs are only to provide a functional egress to and from your patio there is no point in spending extra cash to install wrought iron, prefab concrete will do.
- Do you wish to make a design statement? If the stair system will be a focal point, perhaps for a 2-tiered deck, your ultimate might be that wrought iron masterpiece.
- Will your choices hold up to weather? Will it require much or little maintenance? Wood is always a beautiful choice but a synthetic wood material is a better weatherability choice for your prefab stair.
Time and Cost
- How much time do you have? Any choices you consider should always factor time. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting weeks for something you believed would take days.
- The manufacturer may have your “picture book” image in their catalog but will the budget allow it?
- How much preparation will the prefab parts require? If you’ll need to pour a slab or foundation for the prefab stair, calculate that cost into your total.
- Is delivery included in the package? Many manufacturers and retailers do not include freight in their advertised price.
- Will the manufacturer, retailer or contractor deliver and install the stair system? Prefab saves time and installation labor but because of their width or the material their made with the units are heavy and awkward to handle. Unless you have lifting equipment at your project site you should allow the experts to handle this phase too. Be certain to ask if it’s included in your contract.
- Will it adjust to fit your application easily or must you order custom? Most manufacturers have stock sizes that are less expensive than custom built. If you can make a stock size work, even if it requires some site preparation, it may be worth the effort.
- Will it satisfy local building codes? To avoid a nasty surprise from the building inspector question him before you buy. Local codes may stipulate a landing after so many steps or minimum tread width and maximum height between each step. Hand rails and balusters may also come under code scrutiny.
- Does the manufacturer sell through a local retailer or building contractor? Getting caught between the manufacturer and an installer can put you in consumer limbo if problems arise. Each may blame the other for mistakes leaving you without resolution. If at all possible, purchase installation and the prefab stairs from the same company.
- How long is the warranty and who will service the purchase if that becomes necessary? This is one we all hope we’ll never need but knowing up front who to call, what’s covered and for how long will make any warranty issues less stressful to resolve.
Answer these questions and your project’s ultimate prefab stair system will be one "step" closer.