Building deck stairs is necessary if you want to be able to access your backyard directly from the deck. Stairs are tricky enough to construct. Add to that a slope and you're looking at issues that extend far beyond aesthetics. If you don't build it right, it can be dangerous. Although building on top of ground that's uneven can be challenging, you can succeed if you follow these basic tips:
Use a Raised Platform Deck
One solution to building deck stairs on ground that slopes is building a raised platform deck. It makes it easy to go from the house to ground level, despite the uneven ground underneath. The deck will attach to the house above the ground.
Align the Stringers Correctly
Stringers act like ladders steps and are necessary to help hold your deck stairs in place. When they fall on uneven ground they can become misaligned over time. The best way to solve this problem is to use a level across each tread that you cut. This helps to keep the stringers aligned, which add stability to the steps you're building. Falling down steps can be dangerous, and therefore, safety is a top priority, especially when it comes to building deck stairs on uneven ground.
Cut Your Own Stringers
Don't use pre-cut stringers from your local lumberyard when you're building deck stairs. Figure out your stringer length, calculate the first one, and then cut your right and left stringers before attaching them to the posts. The problem with stringers from the store is that they won't fit your deck well in the first place. Add to that uneven ground, and you're sure to build dangerous steps. If you’re having trouble calculating and cutting your stringers to the right length, it might be worth getting professional help for at least this portion of your project. Ask someone at the lumberyard if they would be willing to come out and help you cut stringers to the specifications you need.
Use Pressure Treated Wood
Don’t use just any wood for your stringers and supports. Use pressure treated wood for those, as well as your pads, to make cutting and building your deck stairs that much easier. This helps to make the stairs you build more durable and sturdy than non-pressure treated wood. You can find pressure treated wood at your local home center or lumberyard.
Building deck stairs is not as hard as building the deck itself. The bulk of your work when building your deck is measuring and positioning posts. This can be tricky on a slope. The best way to approach this when you're working on uneven ground is to build and put the deck frame in position first. Then, put them on temporary supports. Professionals called this "post-and-beam" support, which means you build the outer frame first. This is not the normal sequence of building a deck, but it's necessary when working on a slope.