How To Build Deck Stairs

Elevated deck with stairs
  • 1-5 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-200
What You'll Need
Circular saw
Hand saw
Screws and nails
Tape measure
Bags of concrete
Post hole digger
Paint or stain

Although building deck stairs sounds like a complicated and time consuming endeavor, when properly planned it can be quite simple and a relatively fast task. Deck stairs are essential for many different designs, especially if the deck is placed above ground level as most are. However, it is important for someone considering building their own deck stairs to become familiar with the zoning laws of the neighborhood in which you live in. This prevents any nasty surprises arising from a lack of awareness about the proper regulations. Always check to see if any building permits are needed, and make sure your design will fit in with zoning codes in your local area. This article will simplify the construction process of deck stairs by breaking down each action into easy to follow steps.

Step 1 - Measure Rise

The first step you must take in order to build your deck stairs is to measure for the rise and run of the staircase. This is done by measuring the distance between the deck and the ground (this is often referred to as the vertical drop). After obtaining this distance, divide the number by seven. The answer that you get will be the number of steps required for the staircase.

Next, make sure to mark on the deck where the two stringers for the stairs will be placed. They should be about thirty-six inches apart from each other.

Step 2 - Calculate Run

concrete pavers at bottom of deck stairs

Once your stringers are marked and the vertical drop is measured, it is time to decide on the run needed for the staircase. The chosen run is than multiplied by the number of steps in the staircase. The number obtained from this is called the span.

Step 3 - Install Stair Posts

Now that the measurements and calculations are completed, the deck stair posts have to go in. Simply drill holes about two to three inches away from the stringers. Fill these holes with concrete after properly fastening the post.

Step 4 - Cut Stringers

The next step of the project is to cut out the stringers using a circular saw for the majority of the cuts, and a hand saw for the parts the circular saw can’t get to. Remember to leave about one inch when you are cutting your stringers so the stairs can hang off a little bit, and attach the stringers to the deck.

Step 5 - Cut Boards

Tall stairway leading to upper deck

Finally, cut the boards you will use for the stairs (taking into account the one inch overhang) and fasten them in place using nails and screws. Typically, it is easier to use two thinner boards per step when constructing the staircase. In addition, a tiny space should be left between each of the boards to allow for water runoff and expansion.

Step 6 - Apply Finish

Finish off the steps by painting or staining the stairs to match your deck. This isn’t necessary but it will make the stairs look more natural compared to the deck. You will also want to sand off any rough edges.