• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to build deck stairs.


    1 Determine the width of each stair tread.
    2 Use 4-foot level and tape measure to find the total rise of the staircase.
    3 Divide total rise by number of steps to find height of each riser.
    4 Set framing square and straightedge to height of riser and width of stair tread.
    5 Use framing square to mark saw-tooth pattern of steps onto a pressure-treated 2x12.
    6 Notch the stringer with a circular saw, being careful not to saw beyond the cut lines.
    7 Finish cutting the stringer with a handsaw.
    8 Use first stringer as a template to mark the remaining stringers.
    9 Trim upper, rear edge of each stringer the thickness of the risers.
    10 Trim bottom end of each stringer the thickness of the treads.
    11 Fasten the first and last stringers to the deck frame with L-brackets.
    12 Fasten the intermediate stringers with 3-inch decking screws driven through the deck frame and into the rear of the stringers.
    13 Attach risers to stringers with 3-inch decking screws.
    14 Install 4x4 railing posts with 3-inch screws.
    15 Use jigsaw to notch treads to fit around railing posts.
    16 Fasten treads to stringers with decking screws.
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    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Calculating the rise and run of a staircase can be maddening, but the actual construction is rather straightforward
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • 100-foot tape measure
        Tape measure
      • four-foot level
        4-foot level,
        used to determine the total rise of the staircase
      • framing square
        Framing square,
        used to mark notches in stringer
      • straightedge guide
        is clamped to framing square to accurately mark stringers
      • bar clamps
        used to secure straightedge to framing square
      • circular saw
        Circular saw,
        for cutting stringers
      • hand saw
        for making finishing cuts in stringers
      • jigsaw
        used to notch treads around railing posts
      • drill

      Shopping List

      1. Pressure-treated 2x12,

      used for stair stringers

      2. 2x6 composite or pressure-treated lumber,

      for used a stair treads

      3. Pressure-treated 4x4,

      used for railing posts

      4. Galvanized metal L-brackets,

      used to attach stringers to deck frame

      5. 3-inch decking screws