If you have some basic carpentry skills, there is nothing particularity difficult about building steps for a deck, porch or shed. The most important thing is that steps are expected to meet strict building codes to ensure they are safe. We are so used to our steps being a specific size that the slightest discrepancy between steps will create a tripping hazard.
Building steps requires careful layout and calculations but as long as you follow the correct procedures you will build steps that you can be proud of.
Main Components in steps
The three main components in building steps are stringers, treads and risers.
Stringers are cut from 2X12’s and are the sloped boards that support the weight of people walking on the steps. They are usually spaced 16inches on centre. Remember, when deciding the width when building steps, the wider the better.
Treads are the top surface of each step and can be made at any width you want them to be. Remember when deciding the width of your steps, the wider the better.
Risers are installed directly under the front lip of each tread and are a very important part of the steps because without them stringers will crack or split much sooner.
What to build steps out of
Natural stone steps are resilient, attractive, easy to maintain, and offer smooth appearances that are pleasant to walk on. Unlike wood that may require additional and ongoing maintenance work, stone steps do not requiring additional protection and do not crack or stain as easily as concrete. When building steps remember that natural stone steps also offer beautiful accents to home exteriors and complement and connect the thresholds of different living spaces.
Precast stone steps, unlike natural stone, are less likely to settle because they are hollow and much lighter. The treads, risers and landings are made as one solid piece which means that when building steps, there are no mortar joints or gaps for water to seep into. The weight of the precast stone steps is distributed evenly to the blocks set under each corner significantly minimizing movement. If settling does occur, precast stone steps are easily manipulated because of their light weight.
Wood Steps that are made from pressure-treated lumber will last for many years. If your pressure-treated wood arrives wet with preservative, allow the wood to dry out before finishing with an exterior porch and deck paint or waterproofing stain.