Building a staircase is a major part of new home construction, outdoor deck remodeling, attic conversion, and other construction projects. Many people assume that this is one of the more complex and difficult construction tasks, but that’s not always the case. Building a basic, straight flight of stairs is actually a fairly easy project that most homeowners can handle on their own. Here’s how to build stairs in your home:
What Tools and Materials Will You Need to Build Stairs?
Start by gathering the tools and materials you will need to complete this project. To build a staircase, you will need these tools:
- Carpenter squares
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
You will also need these materials:
- Pressure-treated lumber
- Stair stringers
- Joist hangers
- Wood screws
- Premade stair railing
All of these tools and materials can be purchased at a local home improvement store. If you don’t want to purchase a circular saw, consider renting this tool from a home improvement store instead.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Stairs
There are five steps you will need to follow to complete the construction of a staircase in your home. These five steps are:
- Collect Measurements
- Determine the Stair Slope
- Secure the Stair Stringers
- Install the Risers and Treads
- Add A Handrail
Use a tape measure to determine the total rise of the staircase. The total rise is defined as the distance between the floor and the top of the new staircase. In other words, it is the height of the area where the staircase will be installed.
Don’t forget about the thickness of the flooring when measuring this space. You will need to adjust your total rise measurement to account for the carpet, padding, and subfloor, which will be removed prior to the installation of the staircase.
Determine the Stair Slope
The next step is calculating the slope of the stairs. You must comply with all local building codes regarding the slope of a new staircase, so contact your city or county to learn more about these rules.
A good rule of thumb is to use the standard riser height, which is 7 inches, to make these calculations. Divide the total rise by the standard riser height to determine how many stairs will be in your staircase.
For example, say your total rise was 98 inches. Divide 98 inches by 7 inches, which is 14. This means your staircase will consist of 14 steps and each step will be 7 inches apart.
You will also need to determine the tread length and depth. The standard tread length is 10 inches and the standard tread depth is 12 inches. But a 12-inch tread depth is not always possible due to space constraints. In this case, use a 10-inch tread depth instead.
Secure the Stair Stringers
The first step in the construction of a staircase is securing the stair stringers to the upper and lower floor. Stair stringers, also known as stringer boards, are the outer parts of the staircase that keep the stairs secured in place on both sides.
To make this project as simple as possible, it’s best to use pre-cut stair stringers. Secure the stair stringers to the upper and lower floor using joint hangers.
Install the Risers and Treads
Now, it’s time to construct the stairs. There are two components to every stair in a staircase: the riser and tread. The riser is the vertical piece that connects one step to another, whereas the tread is the horizontal piece where you step while climbing the stairs.
Use the circular saw to cut the risers so they are the same length as the treads. Then, secure the risers to the stair stringers using wood screws. Once the riser is in place, install the corresponding tread and secure it in place using wood screws. Repeat these steps until all of the risers and treads are installed.
Add A Handrail
Building codes typically require the addition of a handrail on a staircase. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it’s best to contact your city or county for more information.
The simplest way to add a handrail is to install premade railing available at a local home improvement store. These items come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that complements your new staircase. It is possible to build a safe and sturdy set of stairs in your home without a professional’s help. But if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of walking up a DIY staircase, it’s best to contact a professional instead of tackling this task on your own. There are pros and cons to both options, but it’s important to do what you think is best for you and your family.