Saturday, November 12

Dreaming of Stairs

After we finished the deck railing we took a long break due to the heat. Meanwhile, we hadn't gotten any stairs built and the deck was built over the existing stairs from the porch. While my brother (at about 6'2") kept claiming we didn't really need stairs, I was dreaming of the day I could get off and back on my deck without feeling like I had stumbled onto an obstacle course.

Building Stairs:
Until the stairs were built I used a
cement block and this beam to
climb on and off the deck
My dad surprised me with the new stairs, which he built while I was on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Since I was gone I had to get a second hand account of how the stairs were built. I'm sure it sounds a lot easier in the telling than it actually was.

We had measured how wide the stairs would be and put in the concrete footing for the stairs over Memorial Day weekend (to learn about concrete footing read my first deck post). From there my dad bought stair risers (we needed three for my stairs) and the boards needed to build the actual steps. Those risers come in several sizes, so it is important to figure out what the measurements of your project are before heading to the store. You can read more about this in my first deck post.

After putting the footing and risers in place finishing the steps was a lot like building the decking was (read about that here). With the stairs Dad cut the boards before screwing them in place (with the decking he waited to cut the boards until they were all in place). He also put J-hooks in the concrete footing before it dried so we could add the handrails later.

We began building the handrails over Labor Day. The first step was to add the posts at the foot of the stairs (which is why it is important to remember the J-hooks before the concrete dries). We made sure the posts were level and then made them as stable as possible.

Don't the stairs look so much better (and safer) than
that cement block I was using though?
Then we added the top handrail. That's as far as we got on Labor Day, we were short one 2x4 and decided to wait rather than running to the store that afternoon. The plan is to add a bottom rail and lattice like the rest of the railing, but we might leave it like it is. Cutting the lattice to size is a little trickier for this section than it was for the railing because the handrails do not form a perfect rectangle.

For the handrails we cut the wood diagonally with my dad's fancy power saw (I even used it a couple of times!) and then screwed it into place. We had to measure the wood before using the saw to make sure the angle was correct. Even then we had to adjust it a couple of times.

The next deck post will be all about staining and weather-proofing the deck, then we'll get started with that bench I mentioned!

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