How to build portable wooden steps

Written by caprice castano
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How to build portable wooden steps
Portable stairs give access to places where permanent steps are not available. (stairs image by Horticulture from

Portable steps are used for a variety of reasons, but the main goal is to make entering and exiting a site that requires steps safer and easier. This could be a mobile situation such as a recreational vehicle, or a seasonal use for something like a pool. Even home builders create portable steps to use during the building process to make entering and exiting the unfinished home easier for contractors to come and go. Building your steps requires some simple tools and supplies.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Treated stringers
  • Saw
  • Treated 10-inch boards for treads
  • Treated 4-by-4 upright posts
  • Treated 2-by-4 sections for supports
  • Deck screws
  • Cordless screw gun

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  1. 1

    Measure the width and height of the location where steps are needed. The building process for the portable stairs remains the same as for permanent steps, except the frame anchors to the steps that are mobile rather than to a fixture. Small stair stringers come in up to seven-step sizes. Determine the number of steps you need and purchase the correct stringer and boards for the risers, or treads, for that number of steps. Standard stair width is 36 inches, and this is a good width for portable stairs.

  2. 2

    Cut two sections of the 2-by-4 into 36-inch pieces with 45-degree cuts at each end. Lay them in an X shape with the centres crossed, one on top of another. Place the stringers at the ends of the X, and nail in place. This is the support for the step frame.

  3. 3

    Measure your height to the top of the stringers, and cut your upright posts from the 4-by-4 treated lumber six inches higher than your measurement. This allows the posts to rise above the steps for added support if you would like to add a rail later.

  4. 4

    Stand the stringers upright and screw them to the two upright posts.

  5. 5

    Cut another two pieces of 2-by-4 treated wood into 42-inch pieces, this time with straight end cuts. Screw these across the uprights at the back for cross support, one at the top at the same height as the stringers, and the other at the bottom an inch above the ground.

  6. 6

    Screw a 10-inch board across each riser, using three screws per side to secure them in place.

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