Guide to Constructing Porch Stairs

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Home Improvement

Even a basic porch staircase requires precise planning and careful construction. Building stairs can be a challenging task, even when it is just a short porch staircase with only a few steps. While it is possible to construct porch stairs on your own with thorough planning and design, it is recommended that you do so only if you have carpentry experience and feel comfortable with the job. It is also important to check local codes and obtain any necessary building permits before beginning any building work.

In this article, we will discuss how to build porch stairs, starting with the most crucial step – designing them. The design of the stairs is the most important aspect of the project, which is why some carpenters even buy drafting software for this stage. The actual construction is not particularly difficult; it is the precise measurements and calculations that can be tricky. If you are not confident with math, it may be best to hire a professional. However, if you are willing to put in the effort to plan it properly, building your porch stairs should not be too challenging.

So, get your measuring tape and calculator ready and let’s start designing your porch stairs.

Designing Porch Stairs

We have all encountered poorly designed staircases that are steep and narrow, making everyone nervous. Or perhaps, you have been annoyed by excessively wide and squat marble steps in historic buildings. Attempting to fit a staircase into too small or too long an area can result in stairs that are awkward to use. Therefore, it is important to avoid these mistakes when constructing your own stairs. Fortunately, building porch stairs is less complicated as you can build them out to the proper place instead of having to adjust the numbers to connect a basement to the ground floor.

Designing a staircase involves figuring out the correct number of stairs. To design your stairs, follow these steps:

  1. Measure the rise of your future staircase in inches (or centimeters) and divide by 7 inches (18 cm), the ideal step height, to find the number of steps.
  2. Divide your porch height (or total rise) by your number of steps to find out how high each riser should be. Round to the nearest quarter inch (quarter centimeter).
  3. The rise height determines the run width. Find a chart like the one here to determine your run width based on your step height [source: DoItYourself].

If you have made it through all the calculations and your head is still on straight, it’s time for the fun stuff – the actual building of the porch stairs.

Figure It Out

For example, if your porch is 3 feet (1 meter) high, here’s how your calculations would work out:

To build porch stairs, you need to calculate the number of steps and the height and width of each step. To do this, divide the total height of the porch by the desired height of each step and round to the nearest whole number. Then, divide the total width of the porch by the number of steps to get the width of each step. Once you have these measurements, you can position and attach the stringers, cut and install the risers and treads, and add a railing if desired. You can also buy precut stringers from hardware stores, but you may still need to make adjustments for a perfect fit. With some foresight and planning, you can build porch stairs in just one weekend.


1. What materials do I need to build porch stairs?
To build porch stairs, you will need the following materials: pressure-treated lumber, galvanized nails or screws, cement, gravel, and handrail materials. You should also have measuring tools, a circular saw, a drill, and a level.

2. How do I determine the size of the stairs?
To determine the size of the stairs, you should measure the height from the ground to the porch. Then, divide that number by the height of each step you want to use. This will give you the number of steps required. Next, measure the width of the porch to determine the width of the stairs.

3. How do I secure the stairs to the porch?
To secure the stairs to the porch, you will need to use a ledger board. This will be attached to the porch and provide support for the stringers. After attaching the ledger board, you can then attach the stringers, which are the diagonal supports for the steps.

4. How should I lay out the steps?
To lay out the steps, you should start at the top of the stairs and work your way down. Measure the height of each step and mark it on the stringers. Use a square to ensure that the steps are level. Then, cut the steps and attach them to the stringers.

5. How do I pour the cement for the stairs?
To pour the cement for the stairs, you will need to dig a hole for each step. The hole should be slightly larger than the step and deep enough to hold cement. Fill the hole with gravel and then pour the cement. Use a level to ensure that the cement is even and let it dry completely before using the stairs.

6. What kind of handrail should I use?
The type of handrail you use will depend on your personal preference and the style of your home. You can use wood, metal, or plastic handrails. Make sure that the handrail is sturdy and meets local building codes.

7. How do I attach the handrail to the stairs?
To attach the handrail to the stairs, you will need to use brackets. The brackets should be attached to the stringers and the handrail should be attached to the brackets. Make sure that the handrail is level and secure.

8. How do I maintain the porch stairs?
To maintain the porch stairs, you should inspect them regularly for any damage or wear. Repair any loose or broken steps or handrails. Keep the stairs clean and free of debris to prevent slips and falls. Apply a waterproof sealant to protect the wood from moisture and weather damage.

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