Building strong deck steps is important to overall deck safety. There are a whole lot of methods that can be tried out while building deck steps but it always boils down to one point – the methods should help avoid drawbacks that can lead to uneven risers or in worst case scenarios, even collapse of the steps.
There is no standardized version of deck steps. For decks that are low to the ground, a few steps serves the purpose, the higher it is, the more elaborate and sturdy the steps must be. For additional safety, especially of young children scampering up and down, a railing should be added. The rule of thumb is – if the number of steps is more than 5, it is always advisable to put in guard rails.
The strength of deck steps cannot be judged in isolation. There are a number of aspects to it. Measurements of risers and stringers and the landing are very crucial for determining the strength and safety of the steps.
What then are the points that should be primarily considered –
Calculating the Rise and Run
There are a number of sides to it. First, you have to determine the number of steps required in relation to the height of the deck from the ground. Measure the distance of the deck from the ground and divide that by 7.5. Round that off to the next higher number and you’ll get the ideal number of steps.
Next calculate the rise height. The height of the deck from the ground in inches divided by the number of steps arrived at previously will give you the dimension of the risers.
To know to what point the set of steps will extend into the yard, multiply the number of steps with the width of the individual steps which in most cases is 10in. Mark this length off from the deck into the yard and this is where the concrete footer or landing will start from.
These calculations are crucial for building strong deck steps.
Strength of the landing
Remember, the strength of the landings adds to the strength of the deck steps. Hence give it a lot of thought. Ensure that the slab of the concrete landing extends at least a yard away from the last bottom step. While pouring the concrete, make sure that the landing slopes away from the steps for drainage. You’d surely not want puddles building up at the bottom of the stairs! However, the slope should be very gentle and not more than ¼ in per foot. Increase traction by lightly sweeping with a broom over wet concrete. Smooth surfaces are not safe, especially in monsoon.
Finally, a lot of care should be taken to make the steps extra strong. One sure way is to reinforce the middle 2×10 stringer with 2x4s nailed and attached to both sides. This is perfect even if you choose to have open-sided steps without the customary skirts.
Once you have set the steps up, your rock solid creation is ready for additional railings and balusters.