It’s so easy to build a small set of stairs. If you want something with more height, then follow the same steps as a larger set of stairs, but just utilize your materials more efficiently. To be safe and budget-friendly, keep all your measurements very exact in order to make sure that each step will fit snugly against the other. A small set of stairs can be built using either a staircase kit, individual boards, or a combination of both. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you must research before starting the project.
Building a set of stairs is a relatively simple task, but very important nonetheless. Whether your stairs are used for a basement bedroom or at the rear of your home as an entryway, it’s important to make sure that the stair landing is properly supported.
Start by measuring the distance of the stairs and mark it out with string or tape. Use your saw, screwdriver, a hammer and tape measure to build the frame for the steps. After constructing and attaching the handrails, fill any gaps or holes with wood filler. Once you have completed this step, sand everything down where necessary to create a smooth surface.
Stairs are a wonderful way to bring structure and flair to a backyard deck or porch. Whether you’re building an outdoor platform or adding steps that lead up to your front door, getting the right dimensions and materials can be tricky. To build a sturdy set of stairs that is both functional and safe, you need stringers that are structurally sound as well as risers and treads that are perfectly level. With the right tools, techniques, and step-by-step instructions, though, even those new to home improvement can successfully construct their own small set of stairs.
Determine the elevation change.
- Determine the elevation change. The total height of your stairs is equal to the difference in elevation between the top and bottom of your stairs, plus a little extra for some wiggle room (about 3″). For example:
- You want to build a set of steps that rise 10 inches above ground level at its highest point and drop 5 inches below it at its lowest point. In this case, you need to subtract 10 inches from 5 inches and then add 1 inch for wiggle room, which will give you an overall height for your stairway of 14 inches (10+1).
Detemine the number of risers and treads.
The number of risers and treads depends on the height of the stairs, as well as their width and length. The longer your set of stairs is, the more riser and tread options you have available. For example, if you have a short set of stairs (two steps), your options are limited to one rise at most; however, if you have a long set with many risers and treads (ten steps), then they can be customized to fit any space.
The number of risers also changes depending on how high or low your landing is from where it meets with another floor or wall. This can affect how far apart two sets are spaced together in order for them not only look balanced but also comfortable for foot traffic when entering/exiting a building etc..
Create a stringer template.
The first step to building stairs is to create a stringer template. To do this, use a straightedge and pencil to mark the edges of your stringer on the side of each tread. Use a circular saw to cut out these pieces along those lines. You can also use a jigsaw or router if you have them handy.
Cut risers and treads.
Cut risers and treads to length. Most stair parts come in standard sizes, and if you’re making a small set of stairs, you probably only need one or two risers and treads. But if you have more than that, the best way to cut them all at once is with a circular saw.
Use a chalk line like this one from Stanley Tools to mark the cut on your first piece of lumber. Then make sure your saw’s base plate is parallel with the line before using it as an accurate guide for cutting through multiple boards at once. After that, just use the line itself as a guide while flipping each board over so they can be ripped into smaller pieces without messing up any measurements.
Cut notches in your stringers, if necessary.
If your stringers are wider than the space available, you’ll need to cut notches in each stringer. Notches should be at least 1/2″ deep and at least 1″ wide. The riser should be at least 6″ tall and treads at least 10″ wide. Pre-drill all holes so your lumber doesn’t split when you nail it into place. Use a combination square to mark the correct height on your stringers and cut them accordingly with a circular saw or jigsaw.
Cut stringers from 2×12″ lumber.
Cut stringers from 2×12″ lumber.
Use a circular saw, jig saw, table saw, router or miter saw to make the stair treads. The length of each stringer depends on the number of stairs you want to build (usually 16″ but could be more or less), while the depth is usually made 1-3/8″, which allows for a 1/4″ nosing at the front and back. The width varies depending on whether or not you’re using bullnose trim (1-7/8″) or moulding (2″). Measure your width down from one end of your stringer board—this will determine where your first step should start. Make sure it’s level with an eye-level measuring tape so that all steps will be level when they’re installed in place later on.
Cutting angles can be done manually with a utility knife if necessary, but most people opt instead for power tools like nail guns and routers that can speed up this process considerably
Install stringers with wood screws or lag bolts.
Measure the distance between stringers, and cut one end of each stringer to length. Position the first stringer on top of a sheet of plywood or particleboard, aligning the ends with the sides of the opening in your deck framing. Drive two nails through each side at an angle that’s perpendicular to its face (as opposed to parallel) for more secure installation.
Use a framing square to align new stringers with existing ones as you install them. To ensure an even rise from one step to another, leave equal gaps between steps when marking your measurements; this will make it easier for future adjustments if you need them later on.
Attach risers and treads to stringers with wood screws or lag bolts.
Once you’ve cut the parts to size, use a drill to attach the treads and risers to one of the stringers.
Drill pilot holes through each piece and into your stringer, then secure them with wood screws or lag bolts (depending on whether your joints are through-bolted or not). For example, if you’re using wood screws:
- Drill pilot holes through each tread/riser with a 5/16” drill bit so that they are just larger than the diameter of your screw holes. If you need help determining where these spots should be located on your pieces.
- Screw in two screws per hole (one at either end) until they’re tight enough not to fall out but loose enough that there’s room for glue later—this will keep them from turning during installation (and make sure they don’t disappear inside when drilling).
You can motivate yourself without being mean to yourself.
One of the things that can be hard about building something, especially if you’re new to it, is getting started.
Often people will put off starting because they think they can’t do it or they don’t want to fail or they just plain don’t know how.
The thing is, though: if you wait until you’re ready and have everything figured out before starting your project, then it’s not going to get made. The longer you wait the more likely it is that the project will never get made–and then where will we be? We’ll just keep on living our lives without stairs in them and everyone knows what happens when you live without stairs in your house: no one ever comes over and no one ever leaves again so eventually everyone dies from old age (which may not be as scary as other options but still).
Step-building is a great project that you can take on yourself. I have found that this helps me to build more confidence in myself and improve my skills. Once finished, it will also give you a sense of accomplishment and pride in your workmanship.