Diy wooden stairs

Written by kat halpenny
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Diy wooden stairs
Building your own stairs can give them craftsman appeal. (Wooden Stairs image by Towards Ithaca from

If it's time to replace your squeaky basement stairs or build a flight up to a new addition, you can order fabricated stairs milled in a shop, or you can build them yourself. Do-it-yourself wooden stairs can save you money and give you more options for customisation. If you can complete accurate calculations and own some common tools, then you can build wooden stairs. Before you start, make sure to familiarise yourself with the local building codes on stairs and to purchase high-quality lumber.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Calculator
  • Lumber (without knots or voids)
  • Framing square
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Wood glue

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  1. 1

    Calculate your risers. Risers are the vertical portion of each stair and are typically about 7.5 inches. You may decide that you would like shorter steps, but your local building code will usually set a maximum height. Measure the distance between the lower floor and the upper floor. Divide that measurement by the desired height of each riser, and that number will be your number of steps. You might need to adjust your riser heights slightly so that they perfectly match the distance between finished floors.

  2. 2

    Calculate your treads. Treads are the horizontal portion of each stair. Find their size by dividing the horizontal span of the staircase (total run) by the number of steps. You may need to adjust this number based on building-code minimums (usually 10 inches) and needed headroom. Headroom allowance makes sure there is enough distance between the ceiling and the stairs for people to use them safely (typically 6 feet, 8 inches). If the number you calculate does not meet code or allow for enough headroom, you might need to lengthen the entire staircase and increase the size of your treads.

  3. 3

    Cut your stringers. Carriage stringers are the notched boards that support the steps from underneath. You will need to cut three identical stringers based on your calculations from Steps 1 and 2. Mark off the riser and tread measurements on your framing square and draw corresponding triangles onto your stringer board, one for each step. Once you have drawn all of your lines and compared your board to the area where the stairs will go, cut out the triangles. Repeat the process for the other two boards and make sure that you have three identical stringers.

  4. 4

    Attach your stringers. Orient them so that one support is under each side of the steps and one extends down the centre. Your method of attachment will vary. One or two of the stringers may be nailed into the drywall of an adjoining wall, or the entire structure may be freestanding. If the stairs are freestanding, consider adding support beams under all three stringers and intervals.

  5. 5

    Build your steps. Cut all of your risers to size and affix them to the vertical portion of the stringers with nails and glue. Cut your treads but adjust your measurements by subtracting the depth of the riser boards and adding the length of overhang (nosing) that you want on each stair. You may want to round the nose of each tread. Nail and glue each of your treads into place.

  6. 6

    Add extras and get the stairs inspected. Your local building code will probably call for the installation of a handrail along your stairs. You may also want to install a piece of lumber along the stringers (called a skirt board) as trim. Get your stairs inspected to make sure it meets the building code, especially before you add any floor coverings such as carpet or laminate.

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