Deck Stairs – Second Story Decks, Multilevel Decks, Stairs are Necessary ...

Deck stairs may be the key element that defines your architectural structure without loosing functionality. This resource will provide you with answers to questions you may have concerning the way deck stairs are built and even some terms you may not be familiar with.

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The eyes magnetically follow the steps upward, making the transition from the ground to the deck's surface a pleasurable one.

If you have no deck stairs you may have to go back inside the house and out another entrance. Wouldn't you want an easier way to get to the same destination? Adding stairs to a second story deck will lend convenient access to the ground. Stairs that lead from a patio deck to an upper level will enhance the appearance of both levels.

Deck Stair Terminology:

  • Rise: The height of your deck.

    The following terms have been defined to help you read and formulate plans for deck stairs. Some of these terms can be used interchangeably.

  • Unit Rise: The height of each step. A comfortable unit rise is between four and seven inches.
  • Run: The length of your deck stairway
  • Unit Run: The depth of each step
  • Vertical Rise: The distance between two steps
  • Vertical Drop: The height from the ground to your deck.
  • G. Span: The distance from deck surface to the foot of the deck stairs.

Deck Stairs

When Building Deck Stairs:

  • Consider using rot resistant lumber because deck stairs are prone to deterioration due to exposed end grains. Composite Decking is one wood alternative that still has a natural appearance.
  • Check with your Local Building Department for information on building codes and requirements. These codes (when in relation to deck stairs) are usually related to the rise and run (see above for definitions).
  • Are you adding them to an already built deck?
  • Consider placing non-skid tread strips as a safety precaution.
  • A gentle rise equals easier walking. Consider breaking up the steps with landings if the rise is more than 8 feet.
The above information is provided to assist you with the earlier stages of your deck plans. There is plenty of information on how to build them yourself, if you so choose. To find out more about building a deck or deck stairs visit your local home center, or local building department.


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