Instructions to Build Wooden Steps

Written by judi light hopson
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Instructions to Build Wooden Steps
Wooden steps work in almost any location. (wooden staircase image by Yali Shi from

Designing and building wooden steps requires knowledge of the component parts of steps. Building wooden steps can become very detailed, depending on how much time and money you want to invest. You can build steps with basic lumber, but you can add many accessories. You can install risers to enclose the front of each step, handrails and various trim pieces in finished wood to make the steps very upscale, if you desire.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Measuring tools
  • 2-by-12-inch lumber board
  • Carpenter's square
  • Circular saw
  • Electric screwdriver
  • 4-inch screws
  • 4-inch nails
  • 6-by-6-inch post material
  • 2-by-6-inch lumber boards

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  1. 1

    Design the stringers to reach from the upper landing area at the top of the steps to ground or floor level. Establish the exact length stringers will need to be. They will serve as the side boards cut in a sawtooth fashion that individual steps rest upon. Define how deep and wide the treads (actual steps your foot hits on the steps) need to be. Find wooden steps to examine and try out to see what feels comfortable to you.

  2. 2

    Use 2-by-12-inch lumber boards to form the stringers, by cutting the notched pattern, one by one, with a circular saw. Cut the notches to accommodate the tread depth from heel to toe. Avoid cutting into the stringers too deeply, since this will weaken the boards. Make cuts no closer than 4 inches away from the bottom of each stringer to leave enough support wood in place.

  3. 3

    Measure the width of the treads, allowing boards to be no less than 8 inches deep. Nail treads across every third step, connecting each side of the stringers. Don't secure all treads into place until you are satisfied with the overall structure. Attach the steps to wooden framework at the upper landing by using bolts versus screws. Secure the steps to a wooden beam using at least four bolts across the top landing of the steps. Add the remaining treads and secure them with 4-inch stainless steel nails into the stringers.

  4. 4

    Install risers on the spaces between steps, if you desire, to enclose the steps into a "staircase" versus open steps. Measure the space for each riser separately. Use an electric screwdriver and 4-inch stainless steel nails to attach the risers to the front of the steps, allowing each step to extend out over a riser.

  5. 5

    Add a handrail to the wooden steps by installing 6-by-6-inch post material for support posts. Cut the posts with a circular saw, cutting a top angle on each post. Don't cut the posts flat on top, since the post tops will need to follow the exact slant of the stringers. Install a handrail material to connect the posts using 2-by-6-inch lumber boards secured to the posts with 4-inch stainless steel screws.

Tips and warnings

  • Buy premade treads if steps will be located within a living area. It's difficult to sand handmade treads to avoid splinters. Purchasing ready-made treads will enable you to add stain and varnish. Risers made of prefinished wood can be bought as well. Cap the stringers with finished wood if your steps are part of a formal living area.
  • Check with your home improvement stores to review options for attaching materials to the actual steps or the front of each step to provide protection against slipping and falling. You can glue rubber strips or metal strips on the steps to add traction.

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