How To Build Wooden Stairs

Need To Know Stair Building Terms

Building Outdoor Wooden Stairs – DIY Network

Part of learning to do anything is learning the specific words, language, or lingo around the topic and stairs are no different. There are a few unusual words that you may not be familiar with if you have never done any stair construction or remodeling before.

Heres a list of the most common stair building terminology:

How To Build Stairs

This article was co-authored by Agustin Renoj. Agustin Renoj is a Home Improvement Specialist with Renoj Handyman based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 18 years of construction experience, Agustin specializes in carpentry, painting, and exterior, interior, kitchen, and bathroom renovations. Renoj Handyman is a family-owned business that consists of craftsmen trained in all areas of construction.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 15 testimonials and 85% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,145,308 times.

Stairs are an essential part of many construction projects, from decks to interiors. It can seem daunting to think of making your own, but theyre actually made of just three main parts: stringers, treads, and risers. Stringers are diagonal 2 in × 12 in boards that support people’s weight as they walk up the stairs. Treads are the top baseboards onto which you step, and risers are placed perpendicularly under each tread. Measure and cut the stringers accurately, and the other parts will mostly fall into place.

Calculating The Stair Measurements

  • 1Check your local building codes regarding deck stairs. Before you begin purchasing materials and building your deck stairs, you need to go online, call your local government, or contact a building inspector to make sure youre following your local building codes. Building codes can vary, so you need to be sure youre following your local codes or you could face a fine and be forced to remove your deck stairs.XResearch source
  • Many local governments list their building codes online.
  • Note that “riser height” is defined as the height from the top of one tread to the top of the next.
  • Stairs with more than 1 step will probably also be required to include a handrail on both sides of the stairs. Open stairs, and the deck they serve, rising over 30 inches may also need guards on any open sides above the point 30 inches high.XResearch sourceNFPA 101 :
  • Common Building Codes for Deck Stairs

    Stair treads: 36 inches wide and 10 inches deepStair risers: 7.75 inches or less in heightStringers: No notches deeper than half the width of the board, or the stringer will be too weak

  • 2Check if you can use pre-cut stringers. Handyman suggests “stopping by a home center or builders’ supply store, which both sell pre-cut stringers that are cut to standard dimensions. Using these is the best option unless you need the stairway to be steeper because there is not enough space on the ground.”
  • Write down the measurements so you can calculate the materials later.
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    How To Build Wooden Deck Stairs

    Kelly Bacon is a licensed general contractor with over 40 years of experience in construction, home building and remodeling, and commercial building. He is a member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board.

    • Working Time: 4 – 6 hrs
    • Total Time: 1 – 2 days
    • Skill Level: Intermediate
    • Estimated Cost: $200 to $400

    Your home’s deck provides instant access to the great outdoors. Whether you use it for barbecuing, socializing with friends, or for relaxing by yourself, your deck is a valuable addition to your home and property.

    Safely and efficiently accessing your deck is just as important as the itself. Learn how to build wooden deck stairs easily by using pre-built stair materials found at your local home center, along with basic tools that you may already have on hand.

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    • 1/2 x 1 1/2-inch treated Fir strips

    • Table saw

    • 1/4 inch by 4 inch Masonry drill bit

    • 16 penny sinker nails

    • Finish stair tread wood with nose


    Use treated wood to allow for any moisture the concrete steps may produce. Make sure your concrete stairs are level.

    Concrete steps are commonly built between a garage that is on grade and a home which is on a basement or crawl space type foundation. This is fine unless you decide to convert your garage into living space and you are confronted with how to cover the masonry stairs with wood so that they no longer look like exterior stairs.

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    Measure For Wooden Steps

    Measure the width of the door opening and the height from the top step to ground level. Next, calculate the number of steps you will need, allowing a 7-inch rise for each. Once you know how many steps you’ll need, compile a list of materials. Materials include a stringer at both ends, one stringer for every 16 inches in between, treads, riser boards, a 2×4-inch anchor board, and corrosion-resistant screws or nails. All materials should be made of pressure-treated wood or rot-resistant material.

    Permits And Inspection Cost

    • $50 $100 | The cost of inspecting deck stairs and railings is part of the overall deck permit cost. The cost range shown is for adding stairs to an existing deck

    Most deck contractors estimate by the job. They consider time and materials in their estimate. This is what a deck contractor makes when considering the cost of deck stairs on an hourly rate.

    • $35 $85 per hour | Deck Stair Installation. If a licensed carpenter is doing the work with a laborer/helper, each might be billed at a different rate.

    Here are typical time frames for common jobs.

    • Up to 1 Day| Installing deck stairs only, 3-9 steps, or 3 steps and railing.
    • 1 1.5 Days | Installing deck stairs and railings, 6-9 stairs.

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    Calculate The Stair Slope

    You will use your rise measurement to calculate the slope of the stairs. The stair slope is the walking angle of your finished staircase. Its also called the rise and run of the stairs. A stairs slope determines how easy or comfortable it is to walk up or down the staircase.

    There are many ways to decide on the best slope for your staircase design. Here are some basic guidelines for calculating stair slope:

    • For a standard slope, divide your total rise measurement by the number 7. This is the standard riser height.
    • Many building codes call for stair slopes that have an angle of about 37 degrees.
    • Make sure the slope is in compliance with your local building codes. Check with your building permit or community affairs office for more details.

    It’s important to note that building codes allow for a variance, usually the bottom step , in case the math does not work out as an even number for all the risers. Also, building codes have a minimum and maximum rise dimensions for treads. Be sure to check local code for minimum/maximum measurement requirements as they relate to risers and treads. When the riser dimensions can’t all be the same, this variance will need to be accounted for.

    Stair Header And Landing

    How To Build a Deck | Wood Stairs & Railings (4 of 5)

    The upper part of the stairs is attached to a stair header. The stair header is part of the house, , or other structure receiving the stairstechnically, not part of the staircase. The header must be strong enough to support the top section of the staircase.

    The landing is the ground or floor at the bottom of the staircase. The landing must be level and strong enough to hold the bottom of the staircase.

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    How To Build Stairs: Key Tips & Tricks To Make Things Better

    Home » DIY & Home Improvement Articles » HOW TO BUILD STAIRS: Key Tips & Tricks to Make Things Better

    If youre thinking of building stairs , youve come to the right place. This article explains the essentials of different kinds of stair construction, with tips you wont find from most other sources. It covers the important details you need to know for different kinds of stair construction. Even if youre just hiring someone to do the job, at least youll know the basics behind good work if you read this article.

    Building stairs that remain comfortable, strong and quiet for years is something that happens far less often than it should. And I suspect this is because good workmanship demands more time than allowed-for in typical homebuilding budgets. Here are key tips you need to understand.

    How To Build Outdoor Stairs

    Constructing a staircase is a daunting project, but so long as you have the proper knowledge, you can build an outdoor staircase with ease. This article will help you become familiar with the vocabulary, design process, and construction of outdoor staircases.

    Always check your local zoning codes before beginning the project.

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    Attach Outside Stringers For Wooden Steps

    Position the outside stringers against the house so they are flush with the top of the anchor board. Be sure the step notches are level and the stringers are square with the house. Bricks or solid concrete blocks can be placed under the bottom of the stringers to keep them off the ground and provide a level foundation. Once the stringers are in place, nail them to the ends of the anchor board.

    How To Install Stair Risers And Treads

    20 Ways To Build Free Standing Wooden Steps

    With your stringers cut and secured, you can begin installing your treads and risers. You always install the first two risers first, and then the treads are installed on top of the first riser, and against the second riser. Remember, your project needs to adhere to any local building codes.

  • Use a circular saw to cut your risers to fit your stringers.

  • Make sure to account for the thickness of your treads when making your cuts.

  • Use wood screws to attach your first two risers to the stringers.

  • Pre-drill all nail holes or use a nail gun.

  • Use finishing nails to nail each riser to the stringer.

  • Use a circular saw to cut the treads to the length of each riser.

  • Use wood screws to attach treads to the stringers.

  • Use a level tool to level the tread from front to back.

  • Pre-drill all nail holes .

  • Use finish nails to nail each tread or riser

  • After completing your first two risers, and tread, you can cautiously test that first step.

  • Repeat the process, slowly building up each stair step, two risers and one tread at a time. Continue repeating this process until you reach the top of the staircase.

  • With your stairs now fully constructed you are ready to attach a handrail to your wall. Good news: After constructing your staircase, this will prove to be a much quicker and easier task.

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    How To Measure Staircase Slope

    Once you have your materials and tools collected, youre ready to start calculating the slope of your staircase.

  • Use a tape measure to measure the riser height .

    • Make sure to calculate in thickness by accounting for anything like carpet, padding, and subflooring.
  • Divide your total height from finished floor to finished floor by the number of risers you intend to use. This number represents the height of each riser.

  • Set stair buttons on your square with the rise and run of the stairs and the other being .

    • Remember to account for the thickness of your tread from the bottom of your stringer, and add the same to the top.
    • For open staircases make sure to cut the stringers in between the riser and tread on each step. This is what creates the open look.
  • Fasten triangular pieces of wood to the stringer where your risers and treads will be attached. Always use a good quality wood adhesive where two pieces of wood meet, and leave glue excess to cure before scraping it off with a sharp chisel.

  • How Much Do Hardwood Stairs Cost

    Nowadays, a staircase in a home is more than just a means to go from one level to another. Since staircases are often used and are prone to heavy traffic, it should be durable. Aside from that, many homes, at present, showcase the staircase.

    An attractive hardwood staircase gives a home more character and class. It can be the Piece de Resistance in a home. That said, it is no wonder why hardwood staircases are very popular. Though there are several types of flooring, many homeowners prefer hardwood because of their quality, durability, and elegance.

    Yes, hardwood stairs price can be considerable, but it is worth the cost. Moreover, hardwood flooring is also a healthier alternative compared to other types of flooring for the stairs because it is easy to clean and maintain.

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    How To Build Stairs: Stringers Are Your Stairs Foundation

    The way your stairs feel underfoot, and the ease with which you can climb them, depends on the shape and installation of notched pieces called stringers. The design, layout and anchoring of stringers are all crucial steps in any stair building job. Stringers are angled pieces that are notched to hold the stair treads that you walk on. Cutting stringers accurately is key, and it all begins by measuring the height of one floor surface above another. Lets say that works out to be a total rise of 9 feet, or 108 in this example. Thats pretty typical for a home with 8-foot ceilings and the usual sort of second floor joists.

    In the stair building trade, the word rise refers to the height of each individual stair tread above or below its neighbour. Run describes each stair treads front-to-back width, ignoring any overhang along the front. For safe and comfortable stairs, the width of each tread plus the height of each riser should equal 18 inches, with the rise being somewhat smaller than the run. Some carpenters call this the 18-inch rule, though its more like a suggestion since you can fudge a bit in either direction and still get good stairs that feel comfortable to walk on. Following the spirit of this rule leads to a staircase thats comfortable to use and safely proportioned. Thats the important thing.

    Watch the video below for a demonstration on marking and cutting stair stringers from wood.

    Video Feature

    Cut Anchor Board To Length

    How To Build Stairs To A Deck (The Easy Way)

    Attach a 2×4-inch anchor board to the side of the house to support the stringers. To determine the length of the anchor board, measure the width of the door opening and subtract 3 inches to allow for the stringers that will be nailed on each end. Square up one end of the anchor board, then cut it to length.

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    Attach The Stringers To The Plate

    Attach the bottoms of the stringers to the plate with the four framing angles.

    Most building codes require that the steps do not vary more than 1/8 inch from each other in both rise and run. Be sure to check the rise or vertical measurements of the top and bottom steps to make sure they are within 1/8 inch of the intermediate steps. This measurement includes the treads. Some cutting may be needed at this point before complete assembly and attachment.

    Plan And Build Stairs With Landings

    • Written by Justin Stewart on Jul 27, 2009To ensure our content is always up-to-date with current information, best practices, and professional advice, articles are routinely reviewed by industry experts with years of hands-on experience.Reviewed by

    Although stairs are among the more challenging home projects, building stairs with landings are not a great deal more challenging than a regular staircase. If you think of them as two separate stairways, the process is simpler. Just follow these seven steps.

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    Mounting A Standard Outdoor Staircase

  • Place the stringers on their backs on the ground with the points up, side by side with a maximum of 60 cm between them. We sell timbers for your stair steps of 60, 80, 100, 120, 140 and 160cm wide. For a width of 60 to 100cm, you will be needing 2 staircase stringers, for a width of 120cm or more, 3 staircase stringers.
  • First screw one step at the bottom of the staircase to the widest part of the stringer, and then one step at the top of the staircase, so that the stringers are equally spaced at the top and bottom.
  • You can now put the staircase in place against the wall.
  • Use a level to check whether your stairs are straight.
  • Fix the stairs with fastening brackets on the wall and on the ground.
  • Then screw all the steps to your staircase
  • What Else You Need To Know

    How to build Wooden Stairs (Easy steps)

    Staircases have different shapes, sizes, and designs. A staircase design can either be standard or customized. The measurements of a staircase can also differ depending on the standards and the distance between the levels to be connected. The Stair Calculator computes the various parameters involved in the construction of stairs. It is also important to consult the Building Code of the locality for appropriate guidelines as the provisions for staircases may differ from place to pace.

    Since the estimated total wood stair installation cost can be considerable, the question is can one DIY a hardwood staircase? Yes. Doing so would save a homeowner the cost of labor, a big percentage of the total project cost. Ones decision to DIY or hire professional carpenters will depend on:

    • DIY skills

    DIY projects are very popular nowadays. Many sites offer advice on how to DIY a particular project, thereby teaching the basic skills. Some even provide an easy three-step guide to building a basic wood staircase.

    • Magnitude of the project

    It is easy to DIY a small and basic project. The more complex the hardwood staircases design is, the harder it will be to DIY it.

    After the staircase installation, there are ways to improve its safety. Since wooded floorings can be slippery, a homeowner can choose to install non-slip treads or carpeted runners.


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