How to Build Steps

People find building steps scary, for no good reason. The project requires accurate calculations and simple carpentry skills. Read the steps listed below and challenge yourself to build your own steps.



  • Measuring Tape
  • Stringers
  • Riser boards
  • Treads
  • 2-by-4 anchor board
  • Corrosion-resistant nails
  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Wood (rot resistant or pressure treated)

Here's what to do:

  1. Measure the width of the opening where you want to place the steps. This will be the width of the steps. Measure the height from the ground to the top step you'll be building. Check your measurements twice. Ensuring accuracy will save you time and money.
  2. Calculate how many steps to build. Most steps have a 7-inch (18-centimeter) rise [source: Lipford].
  3. Purchase your supplies. With your measurements in hand, consult a sales associate about your project. Buy two stringers (for each edge of the stairs) and one stringer for every 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) of width [source: Truini].
  4. Saw the 2-by-4 board to the width measured minus 3 inches (7.6 centimeters). This is the bottom step.
  5. Nail the board to the center of the wall where you're building the steps. If you're attaching the board to concrete or brick, drill holes with a masonry bit, to sufficiently hold the nails. Make sure the board is level with the house and center to the doorway [source: Silva].
  6. Nail a stringer on either side of the step. Ensure that the step notches are level and the stringers are firmly footed on the ground.
  7. Nail the middle stringers every 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) along the width of the 2-by-4. This ensures the steps are sturdy.
  8. Nail a riser board against the edge of the stringers on the bottom of the step. Cut the riser board to the right size, if necessary. Ensure the top of the riser board is even with the bottom step of each stringer.
  9. Cut the remaining riser boards to fit your steps. It's best to leave an extra inch (2.5 centimeters) so the steps overlap the edges of the stringers.
  10. Nail the riser boards to the stringers. The number of riser boards needed depends on the number of steps you are building [source: Lipford].