When beginning an outdoor staircase building project, there are several considerations to think about before starting the project and taking a hammer in hand.
The first thing to think about is where you want your staircase to be located and the type of staircase you are hoping to construct. In some cases, an outdoor staircase is only intended to be a few steps leading from a hot tub to a deck. But there can also be other outdoor staircase applications that require significantly more planning and effort. For example, an outdoor staircase can be used to lead up to an apartment located over a garage or to an upstairs office.
In some cases, a straightforward series of straight steps are the best, particularly when only a few steps are needed for a hot tub or to lead between deck levels. However, in some cases, a graceful spiraling staircase can be a space saving way to install a staircase that is both functional and decorative.
Outdoor stairs are constructed of many different kinds of materials. In many instances, wood stairs are easy to make and maintain. You simply need to make sure that you choose a wood that is pressure treated and is resistant to insect infestation. Redwood and cedar are particularly good choices for outdoor staircases. Additionally, it is a good idea to seal any staircase that is made of wood, just as you would a wood deck or railing.
Another good option for building materials for an outdoor staircase is metal. Outdoor staircases made of aluminum or galvanized steel are especially good choices because they are resistant to rust and are easy to maintain. However, they do have the drawback of becoming very hot if they are in direct sunlight and especially during hot summer days. Another potential problem can be that they may cause glare. However, it is also possible to paint metal outdoor staircases and avoid this problem.
For short strings of steps – just a few stairs – it is possible to construct a simple set of stairs that do not require excessive support. In fact, you can even purchase short sets of stairs from deck supply or pool supply stores that can be placed immediately adjacent to a hot tub or low deck rise. The stairs do not usually need to be attached to the deck or hot tub.
However, if you are planning a more extensive set of stairs, you will need to make sure that your staircase is going to be located in a place that has the ability to firmly support the staircase – not only the materials that make up the staircase, but also when it is being used. This means that you will need to be able to attach it firmly to a building and anchor it to the ground.
With any structure that will need to be anchored to a building you will probably need a building permit. It is extremely important to contact your local building department to determine if you will need a permit and what the requirements are before you begin your building process.
Outdoor staircases can be extremely functional and should be constructed out of materials that are suited for outside. Make sure that the location you want to place your stairs is able to support the stairs and that you get a building permit before starting the building process.