DIY Projects

How to Build Exterior Wood Steps

exterior steps

Building steps used to require complicated measurements and difficult angled cuts, but the precut pressure treated stringers available at home centers today have made the job much easier.

Allow for a stringer at each end of the steps and at 16” intervals in between. Use corrosion resistant screws and nails to assemble the steps.

Start by measuring the width of the opening, then cut a treated 2”x4” to length to attach to the side of the house as an anchor for the stringers. Remember to take 3” off the length of the anchor board to allow for the thickness of the end stringers.

Position the anchor board on the house, taking into account the thickness of the top tread. Screw the board in place, making sure it’s level with the house. When attaching to brick, drill pilot holes with masonry bit for anchors or masonry screws.

Place the outside stringers against the house flush with the top of the anchor board, checking to be sure they’re level and square, and nail them to the ends of the anchor board.

Cut 1½” off the end of each of the inside stringers to allow for the thickness of the anchor board.

Toenail the inside stringers to the anchor board flush with the top.

Attach a treated 1”x 8” riser to the bottom of the steps to tie the stringers together.

Cut the 5/4” x 6” pressure treated treads to length, allowing for the overhang on each end, and nail them in place. Using two treads on each step minimizes the cracking and cupping that might occur with a single wide board.

Rip 1”x8” risers to width and cut to length flush with the outside of the stringers. Nail the risers to the stringers to complete the steps.

Further Information


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13 Comments on “How to Build Exterior Wood Steps”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 17th, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Hi, Tony,
    Each home is different, so without knowing all the details about yours, we recommend visiting your local The Home Depot, explaining your home’s complete specifications and each household member’s unique needs, and asking for tailored advice. Good luck on your project!

  • tony alto Says:
    May 16th, 2018 at 10:09 am

    installing wooden steps from patio to back door, from patio to top of door sill is 21 in. on a stringer how many riser or runs will I need. thank you tony

  • sue Says:
    January 29th, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    to: Tony
    home depot and target have wooden tiles 1 ft square 10 to a package that snap together. or use any indoor/outdoor carpeting.

  • Lorna Ferguson Says:
    December 18th, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Is there a page on your video with all the materials needed to get at Home Depot?
    I viewed risers, but don’t see the plans and stuff for the rest of the materials.
    I’m hitting a Handyman, and want to get an idea for his material costs
    Thank you

  • Bill the Mill Says:
    April 16th, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Question: What should I place on the ground to support the bottom of the steps? I’m considering a concrete slab as the steps will be leading right to our front walkway.

  • Sheila Ginanni Says:
    June 18th, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I have lived in my house about eight years. Thanks to your video, I now have steps out my sliding doors. I followed your directions and it was a great experience. My steps are beautiful!!! Thank you so much.

  • Terri Davis Says:
    June 17th, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Our steps will come from the patio up into the yard, they won’t be attached to the house. How do I get the steps securely in the ground?

  • christine Says:
    April 30th, 2016 at 10:19 am

    do you need a permit for this? And what about hand rails

  • Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    December 30th, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Elle,
    Glad to hear our step video was helpful!

  • Elle Rodas Says:
    December 29th, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    My husband and I build these steps and it looks great!

    Thank you Danny Lipford!

    Elle Rodas

  • Marl Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I have to put ONE step outside my back door to the driveway but it’s not level. The driveway slops down. How do I level this board and attach it to the driveway??

  • tony Says:
    May 29th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    i am looking for somthing to put over a wooden deck. Is there a product to lay over a worn deck? Like a thin covering. I do not really wany oudside green carpet.

  • Charles Draper Says:
    May 10th, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Just a few things: 1) Never attach the ledger board to the house without the use of a few galvanized flat washers between the board and house where the bolts go through. i.e., One washer directly under the bolt-head, and then two washers between the house and ledger board. Drainage must occur between the house and wood, or there will be future “problems” of one sort or another. 2) Very few houses are perfectly level, and the exterior steps should be off-level just a tad (approx. 1/16” to 1/8” per lineal ft.) This is never noticed, nor is it dangerous, but does allow for most of the rainwater to drain off the steps. 3) Don’t just “nail” the stringers to the “anchor” board… screw them on, or better yet… use mini-joist hangers for the strength needed. Don’t forget, there is no “ramset” board at the bottom of exterior steps, unless you install one. (I certainly don’t see one on the steps here) By the way, just what in the devil are the stringers, and bottom riser sitting on… the dirt? That’s a direct path for water to wick up. There should “at least” be some bricks for them to sit on!
    Chaz / A Pro Builder

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How to Build Exterior Wood Steps