Take these steps to re­pair rot­ting out­door stairs

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Residences Central -

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

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