Building stairs for your perfect deck is always one of the most challenging aspects. Regardless of whether it’s stairs up to the deck or from one deck level to another, the right balance of the rise and tread can be tricky. The industry recognized this and for this reason, you will find several deck stairs systems on the market.
Before we go too far into deck stair systems let’s make sure we understand some of the terminology around them. The tread represents the depth of the step and is typically 11 inches. The rise represents the height of the step and is typically 7 inches. A stringer, also called a string or stringer board, is the housing on either side of the stairs – this is what the treads and risers are fixed on to. Then there is the box step, which refers to a deck stair system that is created by stacking platforms onto each other to create the steps.
When comparing these build methods of deck stair systems, there are some key differences and advantages to both. Either of these methods can be applied to creating steps for wood, composite and even stone decks when using some innovative products like, Silca System, Tiledeck or Paverdeck.
At most big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot they will have available deck stair system kits. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to assemble. They will have either wood or aluminum stringers, precut treads and screws. They limiting factor with these types of kits is the size of the rise and tread and number of steps available.
Whereas the pre-fabricated deck stair systems can be limiting, it is relatively simple to create your own customized stairs. Stringers can be cut to a slight varying degree of rise and tread depending on the size of lumber you use. In most cases, to create an average size rise and tread you will need to use at a minimum a 2” x 12” or larger piece of lumber. The box stair method of construction can be built using various sizes of lumber, allowing you to create whatever size of rise or tread you like.
As noted, these methods of construction can be used to create wood, composite or stone deck stairs. The base of all these deck stair systems remain the same, constructed from either pressure treated or cedar lumber. When wood or composite are the choice for cladding, the rise and treads are screwed directly onto the framing. The best option is cladding with stone, and you can use a product like StoneDeks Silca System, or Evolutiondecks Tiledeck first to support the stone. The below links show these deck stair systems being used in both the stringer and box step method of construction.
When constructing stairs for a stone deck, a more traditional method of stone construction would need to ensure the base is properly constructed. This would involve excavation, followed by preparation and compaction of the granular base. As each step level is built using stone, the area within each step level would have to have its base prepared to support the next step. This is often a challenge, ensuring proper compaction of each level without disrupting the level below and obtaining a level surface in order to build the next step on. With the introduction of innovative products such as StoneDeks Silca System, or Evolutiondecks Paverdeck or Tiledeck, this challenging method of constructing stone deck stair systems is a thing of the past!
As you can see there are many options for deck stair systems available to you, from pre-manufactured ones, to totally customizable ones. Finding the one that is right for you will depend on your specific needs, the desired cladding material and your level of comfort working with the material.