How to Build Basement Stairs Part 1

basement stairs
  • 4-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 600-1,200
What You'll Need
Reciprocating and Circular Saw
Square Gauges
Framing Square

Building basement stairs can be a satisfying and simple process if you know how to do it. By following the guidelines below, you can accurately build new basement stairs in a short time. Follow these steps to build your basement stairs.

Plan the Basement Stairs

Check with your local building authority to determine whether there are any guidelines and restrictions to follow. If you do not follow their guidelines and something bad happens, you will be held responsible. Insurance usually does not cover mishaps due to the owners’ poor oversight. Determine where you want to build the stairs.

Measure the Basement Stairs

Measure the total rise, which is the distance between the floor of the basement to the sub-floor above. Measure the total run by marking the end of the stairs in the basement and measure the mark to the first floor above. Next, calculate the number of risers you will have in the basement stairs by converting the total rise into inches, then divide by 7.

The number of risers determines the number of steps you will need on the stairs. Subtract one from the risers to reach the number of steps. For example, if the riser calculates to 18, then the number of steps is 17.

Next, calculate the total run you have measured as mentioned above to inches. Divide this number by the number of steps calculated. This calculation gives you the steps’ width. Adding the steps width and the riser height together, it should give you between 17 and 18-inches.

Layout the Basement Stairs Frame

Layout the basement stairs frame, which is also called the stringers. Draw an outline using square gauges and framing square of the place where you will build the basement stairs.

Using the measurements calculated earlier for the riser height and step width, trace where the stairs will fit in the basement. Ensure that the measurements are accurate because once the stairs are built, mistakes cannot be corrected.


The last step is to construct the actual basement stairs. Nail 1 skirt board into the place where the basement stairs will end. Ensure that the small notches are cut out in order to fit the bottom of the stringers.

Nail the skirt boards and the stringers together. Next, cut the steps and risers to the measured size. Attach the cut risers and steps securely to the stringers with nails and glue.

After completing these steps, you will have your own hand-made basement stairs. By following the guides and instructions on how to build basement stairs closely, you can minimize the set-backs which are typically encountered while building basement stairs. It is not a difficult task, and it is possible to build your own basement stairs. The satisfaction derived from building them cannot be described.

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.