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Deck Stairs

Whatever the height of your deck, the addition of stairs is almost always the most important part of your deck. You can have someone build and install them for you, but for do-it-yourselfers, building stairs is easy and can be done in a few easy steps! Deck stairways can also add visual interest to your home.

Many deck stairs can be built separately even after the decking at a home is complete. Straight stairs without landings can be added at any time. However, if your stairs have landings, you may not be so lucky. When building deck stairs use rot-resistant lumber, as stairs are particularly susceptible to dirt and water which cause rot.

What comprises a deck stairway?

  • The left and right sloping boards that enclose the stairs are called stringers. These are usually 2x12s and help to hold up the stair treads when you step on them.
  • Risers can be made out of strips of lumber resting on edge and nailed between the treads of the stairway. Risers are often considered optional. They can limit the drainage of your stairway allowing water to collect and turn to rot.


Before you get started, you are going to need the following:

  • 2x12s for stairway stringers
  • 2x12s or 2x6s for stair treads
  • lumber for risers, if necessary
  • railing posts, for railed stairways
  • lumber for landings, if necessary
  • 2x2 tread cleats
  • drill
  • Deck screws
  • 1-1/4-inch lag screws and shields
  • 3-inch screws, 16d galvanized nails, or carriage bolts
  • J-bolts, if necessary
  • Framing square
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Ear plugs or headset
  • Work gloves
  • Work boots
  • Circular saw
  • Hand saw
  • Paint brush
  • Sealer/preservative
  • Rubber gloves, if working with concrete
  • Rubber boots, if working with concrete

If you are going to be building deck stairs yourself, take the necessary precautions and wear rubber gloves, rubber boots and safety goggles - especially if you're working with concrete.

If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact your local contractor – even home hardware outlets will offer valuable advice at your request.