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How to Build Portable Steps

Updated July 20, 2017

Sometimes you need a set of portable steps, perhaps to get into your RV or your above ground pool. No matter what you use them for, they will not be attached to any structure and will be easy to move. You will need to determine how many steps you need, and the angle. Too steep of an angle will be hard to climb. Too shallow of an angle will increase the number of steps. Planning is the key to any successful project. Use a yard stick or dowel to “mock up” your steps--place one end of the yard stick where the top of your steps will be, then put the other end on the ground at the angle you wish for the steps. This will give you an estimate of the length of the stringers. Then determine the width of your steps, 36 inches is the standard width of steps. Write down all of your measurements before you shop for wood. Then measure everything again when you get home. Read on to learn how to build portable steps.

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  1. Purchase treated stringers for your steps. The four- or five-step stringer is a good all-purpose choice. These stringers do, however, come in a seven-step variety in case you have a long distance to travel. The length of these will be the length of the "mock up."

  2. Purchase 1x6 treated boards for the steps, two for each of the steps. They should be the width of your steps, as previously determined. Purchase four 2x4s for support and two 4x4s for the uprights. They may be plain 4x4s or the carved type.

  3. Make sure that all of your wood is treated, if it’s not treated it will weaken with age (usually in a few months) and become dangerous.

  4. Place your stringers 36 inches apart and attach them with 2x4s in a cross pattern.

  5. Attach the uprights to the stringers.

  6. Place two boards on each step, but don't screw them down just yet. You are testing the fit and evening up the edges. Once you like the fit, screw down all but the top step.

  7. Measure, mark and cut a section from the top step that will go around the upright. Screw down the top step.

  8. Stabilise the steps by attaching 2x4s to the back of the uprights. You may want to attach 2x4s from front to back as well. The more 2x4s you attach front to back or side to side, the more stable your steps will be. However, the more wood you use, the heavier they will be.

  9. Tip

    Plan your project and measure everything twice.


    Measure twice cut once.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 treated stair stringers
  • 4 treated 2x4s for cross members
  • 2 treated 4x4s for uprights
  • Treated 1x6 steps--enough to complete the project
  • Treated deck screws
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Electric saw
  • Tape measure

About the Author

Arlene Mason is a freelance writer and author living outside of Dallas. She draws from her vast experience and love of life for most of her writing. She has written articles for eHow, and Associated Content. She says "Writing keeps me sane." Most people agree.

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