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Pencil & Paper Stringer Layout (Cont.)

Check Point Check Point - Did you know that the riser height and tread run can not deviate in size beyond the limits set in the building code? If the ground isn't perfectly level, you'll need to know how to accurately measure the total rise. If your total rise measurement is off, the last step won't be the same height as all the others and the stairs will not only fail inspection but will also be dangerous. When you get a password, you'll learn all about building codes and how to build stairs that are safe and last a lifetime.

Step 3 - Layout Adjustments

Layout Adjustments

  • At this point, you can begin marking out your stair stringers. Since you did your calculations by pencil and paper, you'll need to make two adjustments as you lay out the stringers. The first is to reduce the bottom riser height. The amount to remove from the bottom of the stringer is equal to the thickness of the treads minus the thickness of any finish flooring that is installed on the lower landing after the stringers are in place. Doing so will make the height of the bottom rise the same as all the other steps once the treads and finish floor are installed. For this example, since the deck stairs land on the ground, the thickness of the finish flooring at the lower landing is zero. In this case, you would just subtract off the thickness of the tread material since clearly there isn't any finish flooring like carpeting or hardwood floor at the base of the stairs.
  • Assuming you will not be adding a top riser board, the edge of the deck or the header joist will serve as the top riser. As such, you will need to make a second adjustment as you layout the stairs. You will need to subtract off the thickness of the riser boards from the top tread run. This will make all the tread runs the same once the risers are in place. Note: If your risers will be "open", you don't need to make this second adjustment.

Check Point Check Point - Building codes require that all railings are capable of resisting a 200 pound force applied at the top of the railing. That's the equivalent of three average sized men all leaning very hard against the railing at once. The method used to attach railing posts on many owner-built decks will readily tear off under this type of force. When you get a password, we'll show you how to reinforce the framing so your railings and framing are strong enough to keep everyone safe and meet building code requirements.

Stair Angle Based On Rise and Run

10" 10.5" 11" 11.5" 12" 12.5" 13" 13.5" 14"
5" 27 25 24 23 23 22 21 20 20
5.25" 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 21
5.5" 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21
5.75" 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22
6" 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23
6.25" 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24
6.5" 33 31 30 29 28 27 27 26 25
6.75" 34 33 32 30 29 28 27 27 26
7" 35 34 32 31 30 29 28 27 27
7.25" 36 35 33 32 31 30 29 28 27
7.5" 37 36 34 33 32 31 30 29 28
7.75" 38 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29

The content under the "How-To" menu is a small sampling of all the material covered on BestDeckSite. For immediate access to in-depth information on reinforcing the deck where stairs attach, the various ways to attach stairs, making stairs with metal stair-angles, lots of information and examples on building railings, and an online Railing Calculator, as well as, comprehensive coverage of all aspects of gazebo and deck building, get a password and log-in now.


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