Las Pilitas Nursery

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

How to build some simple and cheap wooden steps.

First, steps can be tricky, and people can fall even if you do everything right. So this is meant to be simple plans, for simple wooden steps. For big stairs, long runs or other difficult situations, hire someone.
Ok, your porch is 2-3 feet off the ground and jumping is becoming a drag. Allow time to build some simple steps, generally a weekend.
These steps were build with 2 ten foot 2X12's, 2 six foot treated 4x4's, two bags of ready-mix concrete, two post bases, and 3 six foot pre-cut stringers.
If you do not have stringers you can buy precut ones at your local build it center. They seem a little pricey until you try to cut your own. You'll probably make a lot of fire wood out the the attempts to make the runner. The stringers should be either redwood or treated wood. Unless you can somehow not make ground contact, then you can use fir or pine. (In our area the treated wood is a hazardous material, you can't burn it or just throw it away.) There are a number of sites that show you how to cut and create the risers/tread/stringers, no matter what they say, unless you've done it many times before, it sucks. You can buy one of the expensive pre-cut stringers and us it as a template for the others if you wish to save money. Or go cheap and use only two stringers instead of three. Risers should not be more than 8-1/4 inches high, and the tread needs to at least 9 1/2 deep.
This was the steps in fair repair before rebuilding. Rebuilding the steps was a how to do for me. - grid24_12
If you have old steps there that are still kind of working, great! The stringers are the hard part. Try to keep what's left of them intact, go so far as removing everything but the stringers and labeling each with a pencil. Also not the the new support posts have been set before the old was removed. They should have been a little further back, maybe the front of the second step.
The cement base for the vertical riser of the handrail - grid24_12
Do not mess with the base of the support posts. They need metal post bases like Simpson CBQ or CBSQ set in cement. You'll need about one bag of concrete mix per post. You'll need to do this before hand so the cement has a few days to cure before you start beating one it.
Side stringer of step. This one is done in fir which will rot if it touches the dirt. - grid24_12
The support post needs to be solid so you can screw and nail your stringer on. Later your step will not pounce when you step on it if this is solid.
Step stringers, notice the stringer on center stinger. (I've called them runners for years.) - grid24_12
I'm trying to show the stringers from different angles and steps. I've been stuck before on the stupidest things because the text is assuming something.
Redwood stringer and treated post - grid24_12
It doesn't just have two screws and a nail into the pots, it has an angle plate on the other side with smaller screws also tagging it.