The process for how to build steps process can seem daunting at times. However, once you understand how to calculate the number and size of the steps, the construction is rather easy.
Before you begin, always check with your local building codes department to learn what specific requirements must be met.
General Guidelines: How to Build Steps
The following are general guidelines for building porch steps. As guidelines, they should not be used as instructions as each project has its own unique issues.
In addition, consult with your local building codes department to determine the requirements for your specific area.
Determine the Number of Steps Needed
Measure the height (in inches) from the ground to the top of the floor on the porch. Divide that number by 7.5 to the number of steps you will need. (Maximum height is 7.5 inches)
Example: If the porch floor is 87 inches from the ground, divide 87 by 7.5 to get 11.6 steps. Round up to get 12 steps.
Determine the Rise
Divide the height in inches by the number of steps. In our example, 87 inches divided by 12 steps equals 7.25 inches. The risers will be 7.25 inches high.
Determine Total Length
Standard stair tread depth is 10 inches but you can make them larger. Use the depth of the stair tread to determine how far you stairs will extend into your yard. Multiply the number of steps by the depth of steps.
Using our example 12 steps x 10 inches = 120 inches or 10 feet. The staircase will extend 10 feet from the porch.
Prepare the Landing
The bottom of the steps must be secure. Dig and pour footings to accept posts (to stabilize the steps and support the railings). The footings must extend below the frost line and are normally at least 16 inches wide.
Mark and Cut the Stringers
This often gives most people pause; laying out the stringers. Use the information below along with the video above and you shouldn’t have any problem.
Use 2″x12″ boards and measure the top step. If the rise of your steps is 7-1/4 inches place a framing square at one corner of the board.
Attach the Stringers
Attach the stringers to the porch and landing with galvanized deck screws or nails. (Recommend attaching a ledger to the front of the landing or deck for added support).
We recommend using 2×6 inch treated lumber for your treads. You can also purchase pre-made treads. Overlap the stringers by at least an inch on front and sides. Fasten with galvanized deck screws. The ends of the stringers should rest on concrete pads to prevent settling.
Our How to Build Steps Exclusive.
In most cases you have a porch or deck already built and are going to either build new steps or replace old ones. I’d like to show you a situation where, in this case, a back porch and stairs are being built simultaneously.
In addition, the steps will have to hang off the deck because the final grading for the yard is yet to be done.
How to Build Porch Steps
- Pry off the treads from the upper step to gain access to the tops of the stringers.
- Use a reciprocating saw to cut through the top end of the stringers, freeing the staircase from the porch.
- Remove and discard the old staircase and any leftover debris.
- Use a circular saw and jigsaw to cut six new stair stringers from a pressure-treated 2×12. Cut four steps into each stringer.
- Screw a pressure-treated 2×6 to the existing porch frame to provide extra support for mounting the staircase.
- Space the six stringers 16 inches on center, then fasten a 2×6 across the tops of the stringers. Attach the 2×6 with 3-inch decking screws.
- Screw a 2×6 across the bottom ends of the stringers, then attach a 2×6 toekick to the previously installed 2×6.
- Set the stringer assembly against the porch and secure it with several 8-inch structural screws.
- Use a hammer-drill to bore screw-pilot holes through the bottom 2×6 and into the concrete walk.
- Fasten the bottom of the staircase to the walkway with 3-inch masonry screws.
- Cut four risers from PVC trim boards.
- Attach each PVC riser to the stringers using specially designed screws. Conceal each counterbored screwhead with a PVC plug.
- Cut and attach PVC trim boards to outer surfaces of the stringers on the left and right end of the staircase.
- Cut stair treads from composite decking; screw the treads to the stringers.
- Install a welded-steel handrail, making sure it’s between 34 and 38 inches above the nose of the stair tread.
- Assemble a composite railing system, which includes a handrail and balusters, to fit alongside the welded-steel handrail.