These timber stairs I built-in Durban were the first stairs I built. This was towards the beginning of my deck building career and I had no idea really what to do. I had been involved in carpentry for a fair while so I had an understanding of timber, how it behaves and how to construct and manufacture items, but I had no idea of what needed to be done to build stairs both effectively and affordably. I resorted to Google and surprisingly, or not, I found hundreds of videos on how to make stairs. Mostly American videos so a few adaptions to our local conditions and I had a good idea of what was required.
I used the more conventional, more expensive method of building stairs. I took three pieces of 50 x 220 stock and cut my treads and risers out of the timber (see the diagram attached). This is done by first calculating the riser and tread based on the height of the deck that you need to reach with the stairs. Although an optimal height of each riser is about 190mm and the tread about 280mm, it will vary depending on the vertical height so as to keep each riser and tread the same height and length.
Once these two measurements have been calculated, one uses a large steel square to draw the risers and treads on the stock. The square is simply placed on the stock and the two points are marked off on each end of the square resulting in a right angle where the tread meets the riser. The trick was cutting through the 50mm wood with a hand-held skill saw. My skill saw has a small blade so it kept jamming and burning the wood. In hindsight I would have used 40mm stock or even less as the strength of the timber exists in the width, not the thickness. So a 30 or 40 by 220 would have been much more affordable and much easier to work with. Nevertheless, we persevered and eventually had 3 lovely stringers cut and ready for installation.
From there it was a matter of placing the stringers in place with the tread level and securing them in place with posts concreted into the ground. The inner most stringer was secure directly to the wall using sleeve anchors and this became our starting point from which we set the others, level to that and to ground. With all our stringers in place we decked the surface using 19 x 68 deckboards. We added a bit of substructure to the sides to accept our cladding, clad it and sealed it using a Nova product. Nova produces some top quality timber preservatives, but be careful not to mix them up with the varnishes. Varnish is a no go on any deck as it will peel and flake as the sun breaks it down. To get it off afterwards is near impossible and varnishing over it again results in a blotchy effect. One can’t use anything other than varnish once it has been varnished so stay away from varnish or anything that dries on the surface, with the exception of water based sealers. An article on sealing decks can be found here.
You can find a large reference base on Wikipedia about stairs here.
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