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How to Build Deck Stairs & Steps

Stairs leading up to decks are normally constructed using stringers measuring 2 by 12 inches in width and placed between 12 and 16 inches apart. They are supported by a sturdy foundation and are hung from the deck using a variety of different hangers. They come equipped with risers, which are sometimes referred to as toe kicks, as well as treads and rails. At the very least, the treads on the stairs ought to be 36 inches wide.


You have the option of constructing your own stringers according to your specifications or purchasing pre-cut stringers from Lowe's. Having stringers that are custom-built allows you to match the proportions of a set of stairs in your home, which will result in the stairs providing the most comfortable experience possible. Regardless of the option you go with, you must always ensure that you comply with the building codes.

It is important that the stairs leading up to a deck be meticulously built such that all of the stair rises, which refer to the vertical height of the steps, and all of the tread depths, which refer to the horizontal length of the step runs, be the same. A tripping danger will exist on the staircase if the height or length of the bottom or top step is significantly different from the height or length of the other steps. In addition, the stairwell and its railing need to be in accordance with the relevant building codes, which were established to ensure the stability and security of the structure. In most cases, using pre-built stairs will result in a violation of the building code.



You should begin by becoming familiar with the various components of deck stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, there is typically a level surface constructed of concrete, pavers, or gravel that is referred to as a landing pad. It is possible for a landing pad to be skipped altogether if there will be infrequent usage of the staircase and the grassy area below it is level. The boards that run horizontally along the stairs and are used for stepping are called treads. The treads of stairs can be created out of a single 2x12, but most commonly they are constructed up of two decking boards or two 2x6s. A stringer is a wide board, typically a 2x12, that runs at an angle from the landing pad to the deck frame and provides support for the treads of the stairway. A stringer is considered "open" when it has notches that are visible, whereas a stringer is considered "closed" when it is either a solid board with cleats for the treads or an open stringer that has a solid board attached to the side of it. Risers are boards that are mounted on the ends in order to cover the vertical voids that exist between the treads. The material used to construct risers is frequently 1 by material, fascia board, or decking.


  • The breadth (or depth) of a single stair run is referred to as the stair tread for that run. A rise in a flight of stairs refers to the amount of vertical distance that exists between the summit of one step and the summit of the following tread. The full length of the stringer's journey across the horizontal plane is referred to as the complete run. A stairway's overall change in height is referred to as the total rise. The total rise measures the distance from the landing pad to the top of the deck's decking.

  • Now, some of the requirements that are commonly found in codes, coupled with our recommendations:

  • At the very least, the width of the stair treads ought to be thirty-six inches. Despite the fact that these are the minimum criteria, our recommendation is that the width of the steps should be at least 48 inches so that it does not seem claustrophobic.

  • The minimum stair rise that is required is 4 inches, while the highest stair rise that is permitted is 7 3/4 inches. Take a look at the following tip for some suggestions on rise-run combinations.

  • There should not be more than 3/8 inch of difference between the highest and lowest riser heights or between the deepest and shallowest treads of a set of stairs. This is a rather severe rule, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to thoroughly plan out your stringers.

  • Notches on an open stringer shouldn't be cut much deeper than necessary; otherwise, the stringer will be unable to withstand much pressure.

  • The posts that support the stair railing ought to be securely fastened to either the structure of the deck or the ground below.

  • In most circumstances, the stair railing should be equipped with a handrail that is suitable for grasping.

  • As can be seen in the figure, the spaces between individual balusters in the railing should measure no more than 4 3/8 inches, and the distance between the bottom rail and the tread should measure no more than 6 inches.

  • The stringers ought to have a distance between them that is just near enough to provide sufficient support for the treads. The tread materials will determine how far apart these treads are. In most cases, stringers can be spaced as widely apart as 16 inches on center when the treads are made of 2-by timber. Decking made of 5/4 lumber or composite decking should have a minimum spacing of 12 inches between boards if either is used. Be careful to verify with the department that oversees building construction in your area, and adhere to the installation instructions provided by the decking manufacturer.

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