What Are the Best Tips for Making DIY Steps?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Building DIY steps is not necessarily a difficult process, but the project will take some proper prior planning to help avoid an unstable or otherwise inconvenient structure. The first step in the process is measuring the existing staircase, if one exists, to determine the rise and run of the stairs. If no existing staircase is present, the builder will need to calculate the rise and run for the DIY steps before beginning the project. Any old stairs should be removed and the remaining materials should be inspected carefully before proceeding.

The rise of the DIY steps refers to the distance from the ground level to the top of the upper level. The run refers to the distance from the top level to the outermost reach of the bottom of where the stairs will be built. These are important measurements to take because they will dictate the length of the stringers of the DIY steps; stringers are the outer supports of the steps that will extend from the upper level to the lower level. Once the rise and run have been determined using an online rise and run calculator or another calculation method, the builder will need to consider how many risers and treads he or she will need.

Treads are the individual platforms that will make up each step and will run perpendicularly to the stringers. Risers are installed beneath the treads for added support and to close the gap between treads. The size of these treads and risers will be dictated by the rise and run. Before these can be installed on the DIY steps, however, it will be important to install the stringers properly. The bottom of the stringers should rest on a solid surface such as concrete, and they should be secured using bolts. The upper level of the stringers should also be secured to the floor using bolts, screws, or screw plates.

Once the stringers are in place, the treads and risers can be installed using screws. It is a good idea to pre-drill holes where the screws will be inserted to avoid cracking the wood. A railing is a good addition at this point, thereby providing a stable support for someone walking up the stairs. The design of the railing will vary according to the location of the stairs as well as its length; some railings can simply be screwed into an adjacent wall, while others will need to be supported by railings affixed to the stringers.

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      Man with hands on his hips