Take these steps to repair rotting outdoor stairs
Question: The stairs to my deck are shaky and rotting, and I think they are dangerous. I want to replace them myself. What is the best way to build new ones so that they are stronger and more stable?
Answer: Shaky stairs are not only uncomfortable to walk on, but they can be very dangerous and cause people to lose their balance. We become accustomed to the standard height of a step. If the stairs are weak, sagging or on an angle, they can easily cause someone to stumble.
It is wise to build entirely new stairs, especially if some of the lumber appears rotten. The rotten areas are usually more extensive than they appear to be on the surface. Just take a crowbar and pry off the old stairs. Because they are made from pressuretreated lumber, which contains chemicals, don’t burn them in your fireplace.
Most stairs for decks range between 3 and 6 feet wide. The easiest way to build the new stairs is to use pre-cut stringers, which you can purchase at any home-center store or lumberyard. Stringers are typically 2by-12-inch boards with the notches cut in them to properly locate each step with the correct rise and run.
Unless your old stairs are an odd size, simply buy a stringer with the same number of steps as the old one. If your stairs are very narrow, you will need only one stringer on each side. For most stairs, though, you will need several stringers spaced no more than 30 inches apart to support the steps.
Tomake the stairs as stable and as rigid as possible, pour a concrete footer at the location of the bottom of each stringer. The concrete needn’t be very deep, so use 2-by-6-inch boards to make the form for the footers. Embed galvanized anchors in the concrete to attach the lower end of the stringers.
Use galvanized-metal joist hangers to attach the top of the stringers to the skirt of the deck. These are special metal hangers made just for stair stringers. The bracket portion is tilted down at an angle to properly position the stringer.
Before you actually start nailing the stringers in the metal hangers, check all of the stringers for alignment. You can do this by laying a 4-foot level across the notches. You might have to adjust one or two of the stringers up or down for the proper alignment. Attach the bottom end of the stringers to the anchors in the concrete footers.
Always use galvanized or stainlesssteel nails for outdoor projects. They hold up much better than plain steel nails, and they will not create rust stains on the wood.
Using 2-by-6-inch lumber, cut the stair treads to length to allow for a 1-inch overhang at each end of the outside stringers. Use 12-penny or 16-penny spiral-shank casing nails to attach the treads.
Most stairs on decks are open stairs, meaning that the vertical space between each step is open to beneath the deck. If you prefer to install vertical risers to block off the openings, it is much easier to install them first — before nailing the treads into place.
— courtesy of Creators.com