Best Practices For Your DIY Deck Stairs Project

In a lot of older homes, the front porch is just a small stoop with little or no space for a set of traditional outdoor steps. It’s common to see DIY projects on websites like Pinterest where people build their own outdoor steps and railings. 

While this can be an expensive project if you hire contractors or carpenters to do it for you, there is something very satisfying about building your own stairs and railing as part of your home. 

In addition to saving money, as well as providing useful maintenance tasks that can be done by even the least handy homeowner, building your own deck stairs lets you customize them in ways that aren’t always possible with pre-built options. 

In this article, we are going to share some best practices and tips so that you can have an easy time making them on your own at home.

Spend Some Time Planning

No matter how well you know what you’re doing, it’s always a good idea to plan out your project in as much detail as possible. This way, you won’t miss any steps, and you’ll be able to schedule everything properly. That means knowing how much lumber you’ll need, what tools will be required, as well as how long the project will take you. 

You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a project only to find out that you don’t have enough lumber or the right tools. You should also be sure to check local building codes, as well as get any necessary permits before you begin. Depending on the type of stairs you choose to build, you may need a permit to ensure that your stairs are safe and up to code.

Determine The Materials You Need

If you’re building a new set of stairs, you’ll need to buy the lumber for your deck stairs and a railing, as well as any other hardware you may want as part of your project. While the exact amount of lumber you need will vary, there are some standard measurements that you can follow:

  • The tread of your deck stairs is the part that will be on the ground or near the ground. The part of the stair that’s above the ground is called the riser. You need two inches of clearance for each footstep, so if you’re building a set of stairs that are six feet wide, you’ll need two-inch-wide treads that are at least 12 inches long. 
  • The distance between the outside edges of your deck stairs should be at least 36 inches. 
  • The total rise of your deck stairs should be between 35 and 38 inches. 
  • The total width of your deck stairs should be at least six feet wide.

Build a Deck Stairs With Landing


The fact that many people forget about a landing space on their deck stairs is what leads to the accidents that make news headlines. While you may be tempted to skimp on the cost of a deck stairs with landing, don’t do it. 

To guarantee that you have a proper landing installed on the foot of your new deck stairs,  you’ll first need to assess how many stairs will lead to the landing and where the landing will sit.

Choose The Right Location For Your Stairs

If you’re building a set of stairs to replace an existing set, or if you’re putting stairs in an area that didn’t previously have them, you’ll want to make sure you’re putting your stairs in the right place.

Position Your Stairs To Avoid Obstacles

You don’t want your new stairs to get in the way of your lawn mower or be in the path of your car, so make sure that you position your stairs away from any obstacles. You may also want to put your stairs somewhere where you can easily put them out of the way if you’re using your car. 

Position Your Stairs To Avoid Being Obscured

You don’t want your stairs to be obscured by bushes or other landscaping, so make sure that your stairs are in an open space where anyone coming to your front door can see them.

Find Out If You Need A Permit

Depending on where you’re building your deck stairs, you may or may not need a permit. 

Some municipalities require you to get a permit to build a set of stairs, while others don’t. 

You can call your local building department or municipal code office and ask them if you need a permit to build your deck stairs. 

If you do need a permit, make sure to get it before beginning construction.

Install A Structural Supports Or Footing

Depending on where you’re building your deck stairs, you may or may not need to install a footing or some other kind of structural support for your stairs. 

If you’re building your set of stairs directly on the ground, you may need to install a footing so that your stairs don’t sink into the soft ground. If you’re building your deck stairs over an existing porch or deck, you may not need to do anything other than make sure your supports are attached to whatever is underneath your deck stairs.

Install Your Deck Bearers Or Framing Beams

If you’re building a set of stairs that go over an existing deck or porch, you may want to build your deck bearers or framing beams to support your deck stairs. This way, you don’t put unnecessary stress on your existing support beams. 

You can use a variety of materials for your deck bearers, including 2x12s and 2x10s. You can also use 2x6s if you don’t have any other materials available.

In Conclusion

There are many great reasons why putting in your own outdoor steps is a good idea. But building a deck is a big project, but building a set of deck stairs will give you a good sense of accomplishment while saving you money. 

Remember to spend some time planning, and make sure to get your plans checked by someone who has a lot of experience with deck and porch building. You don’t want to make any mistakes that could lead to injury or damage to your home or deck.

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