When creating you perfect deck, one of the more challenging parts is building the stairs. Whether its stairs up to the deck or from one deck level to another, finding the right balance of the rise and tread can be tricky. 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 terminologies around them. The rise refers to the height of the step and on average is approximately 7 inches. The tread is the depth of the step and usually is approximately 11 inches. A stringer also called a string or stringer board is the housing on either side of a flight of stairs, into which the treads and risers are fixed. Box steps refer to a deck stair system that is created by stacking platforms onto each other to create the steps.
When comparing the two build methods of deck stair systems, there are some key differences and advantages to both the box stair and stinger methods. Both 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, you will find deck stair system kits available. These kits are relatively inexpensive and easily assembled. They come with either wood or aluminum stringers, precut treads and screws. However, with these types of kits, you are limited to the size of the rise and tread and number of steps available.
Unlike the deck stair systems found at Lowes and Home Depot that can be limiting, you can create your own. Stringers can be cut to a slightly varying degree of rise and tread depending on the size of lumber you use to cut it from. In most cases to create an average size rise and tread you will need to use a 2” x 12” piece of lumber or larger. The box stair method of construction can be build using various sizes of lumber and it allows you to create whatever size of rise or tread you like.
As mentioned before these methods of construction can be used to create wood, composite or stone deck stairs. The base of all these deck stair systems remains the same, constructed from either pressure treated or cedar lumber. When cladding with either wood or composite the rise and treads are screwed directly onto the framing. When cladding with stone, you would need to use a product like StoneDeks Silca System, or Evolutiondecks Tiledeck first to support the stone. We have attached two links that show these deck stair systems being used in both the stringer and box step method of construction.
When construction stairs for a stone deck in a more traditional method of stone construction you will need to ensure the base is properly constructed. This would initially involve excavation and preparation and compaction of the granular base. As each step level is build using stones, 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. As you can see there are many deck stair systems available to you, from premanufactured 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.