DIY Stairs: Easy Directions for Building Outdoor Stairs

Education

If you have stairs going into your hot tub, mobile home, or to your deck that are old and worn; you can build them, yourself. Don’t worry they are very simple to assemble.
Tools needed:
• tape measure
• electric circular saw
• electric drill with screwdriver attachment
• straight edge (ruler or T-Square)
• lead pencil

Materials required:
• Treated stringers
• 1×6 treated boards (at least 6 feet for each step)
• two treated 2×4’s
• two treated 4×4’s either carved or plain,
• box of galvanized, treated, or coated screws 2 inches long
• extra treated 2×4’s, either plain or carved

First measure the distance from the ground to the door, top of your hot tub, or top of the deck or porch. Then determine the slope you want on your stairs. Do not make it too steep or you will get winded climbing them or you may hurt yourself going down. If the stringers you purchase are too long, you may reduce the slope or cut them off. If they are too short, it just won’t work. Remember, before cutting anything MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE.

Now you are ready to go to the hardware store.

Because these stairs will be outside all wood must be treated, and the screws used to connect everything must be treated or coated, otherwise your stairs will become unusable after a couple of seasons in the weather.

Select treated stringers, which come in four, five or seven step varieties. The four or five step stringer is a good all-purpose choice, while the seven-step variety is best if you have a long distance to travel. Then select 1×6 treated boards for the steps, the 2×4’s for support and two 4×4’s, either plain or carved, for the uprights. Besure to pick up a box of 2 inch long treated or coated screws, while you’re at the hardware store. Double check to make sure that all of your wood is treated and that you have the appropriate screws. (This saves additional trips to the hardware store.)

When you get home, assemble all of your materials and equipment in one central location so you won’t have to go running all around to find it.

Begin by placing your stringers 36 inches apart, this will make each step 36 inches wide. Measure the distance from a point three inches down from the top of the left-hand stringer to a point three inches up from bottom of the right hand stringer. Cut one 2×4 to that measurement. Then measure the distance from a point three inches down from the top of the right hand stringer to a point three inches up from bottom of the left hand stringer. Cut the other 2×4 to that measurement. Attach the two 2×4’s in a cross pattern, just to the inside of the stringers. Be sure not to interfere with the steps. Be sure to attach everything with screws, this is much easier than using nails and last a lot longer.

Measure and cut the uprights to the height desired. Attach the stringers to the uprights.

Test fit your steps, by placing one 1×6 across your stringers. Mark the ends. Use one more 1×6 to verify that two will make the proper width step, mark it. Do this for each step in turn. Then cut along your lines.

Replace the steps on the stringers and screw them to the stringer. Start with the bottom, then do the top and then fill in the center steps. On the top step, carefully make a notch to fit around the upright.

Stabilize the stairs by attaching 2×4’s vertically to the back of the uprights. Three evenly spaced should be enough. This makes the unit firm and portable.

To add a railing to your stairs, evenly space 36 inch treated 2×4’s (either plain or carved) upright at either end of each step, centered back to front. Screw them in place. Then place a plain, treated, 2×4 atop these as a banister, (it will slope) and screw that in at an angle to attach.

You may either stain or paint your stairs, or leave them natural. Either way, you will have a nice set of stairs that will last you for a very long time.

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