How to Build Wide Deck Steps for a Grand Backyard Entrance

Create an attractive entrance to your deck and a spacious spot to sit with our step-by-step tutorial for building wide deck stairs.

wood deck steps outdoor furniture
Photo: Richard Johnson
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 2 days
  • Skill Level: Advanced

Stair treads that are 14 inches wide make a graceful transition to the lawn and provide comfortable places for people to sit and relax. For this DIY deck project, you'll need a handful of tools, plus the ability to calculate rise and run for a stairway, use a circular saw, and fasten nails or screws.

For this project, stringers are attached to a crossbrace at the top and a toe-kick at the bottom. The landing is made of concrete pavers set in a sand bed. Stairs with 14-inch runs (tread widths) should have rises of between 5-1/2 and 6-1/2 inches. The wider the treads, the more total run the stringers have to span. When you notch stringers, you weaken them. After the notches are cut out of these 2x12 stringers, about 5-1/2 inches of uncut width is left for strength—in other words, the stringers are as strong as 2x6s. These stringers have to span a distance of about 9 feet, which is close to the limit for a 2x6 joist. For extra strength, we added 2x4 cleats.

Before you begin building deck stairs, grab a helper. You will need two people and a few days to assemble the project, depending on the scale of your deck.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Measuring tape
  • 1 Circular saw
  • 1 Handsaw
  • 1 Hammer
  • 1 Drill
  • 1 Framing square

Materials

  • 1 2x12 for stringers
  • 1 Decking for the treads
  • 1 2x4 toe-kick
  • 1 Lag screws with masonry anchors
  • 1 Pavers, sand, and edging for the landing pad surface

Instructions

  1. Install a Crossbrace

    Installing Crossbrace deck
    Dave Toht

    Install a crossbrace directly beneath the joist to provide an adequate surface for attaching the stringers. Connect the brace firmly to posts or the beam so it is just as strong as the joist above it.

  2. Calculate Deck Stair Rise and Run

    Measuring Rise and Run
    Dave Toht

    Calculate the deck stair rise and run and mark a stringer using a framing square. Cut the top and bottom of the stringer and hold it in position to determine the location and height of the landing pad.

  3. Construct Landing Pad

    Crushed Limestone For Landing Pad
    Dave Toht

    To construct a paver landing pad, excavate the site. Install several inches of crushed limestone and tamp it firm. Install edging and check that the corners are square.

  4. Level Out Landing Pad

    Level Out Sand For Landing Pad
    Dave Toht

    Spread 1 or 2 inches of sand over the limestone. Screed it with a straight board to form a level surface that is lower by one paver's thickness than the finished height of the landing pad.

  5. Set Pavers

    Setting Pavers Over Sand
    Dave Toht

    Set the pavers on top of the sand. If you need to cut any pavers, use a rented masonry saw. You might be able to avoid cutting pavers by adjusting the position of the edging. When the pavers are laid, sweep extra-fine sand into the joints; tamp firm and repeat.

  6. Cut and Attach Stringers

    Attaching Stringers To Joists
    Dave Toht

    Cut the stringers. Notch the inside stringers for the toe-kick. Attach the stringers at the top to the crossbrace. Anchor the toe-kick to the pad using lag screws and masonry anchors.

  7. Install Deck Steps

    SCD_172_09.jpg

    Attach the stringers to the toe-kick by fastening with 3-inch deck screws. To add extra strength, attach a 2x4 cleat to the side of each stringer. For each step, install the riser board first, then the tread boards. Clamp a scrap 2x4 to the side of an outside stringer to help maintain a consistent 1-1/2-inch overhang. For treads, you can use two full-width decking boards and one board rip-cut to a narrower width.

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