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analogmusicman 02-09-2009 12:38 PM

outside stairs (deck)
I'm replacing (when the weather gets decent) the stairs going from my deck to the ground. the deck is about 8.5 feet off the ground so these stars are pretty long. (13 treads) what I plan on doing is to remove everything and lay the old stringer on top of a nice new 2x12 and trace the cut lines.(has to be easier than figuring everything from scratch,eh?) there are 3 stringers,by the way, probably within code since the stairs are long. I've only got a few questions:
1) should the stringers be attached to the concrete that they will be resting on? (don't think they are now)
2) should the underside of the stringers (where they come in contact with the concrete) be painted? (maybe a "no brainer" since the existing stairs are rotting right there)
3) are there special nails for my framing nailer for exterior work?


Bob Mariani 02-09-2009 02:05 PM

Use stair guides to layout the new stringers. screw blocking between the stringers and bolt this to the concrete. Use hangers or at least felt to avoid direct concrete to wood contact. You are only using pressure treated lumber so rotting should be reduced. use stainless steel screws not nails. But yes galvanized nails are available but will eventually corrode in pressure treated lumber. Use a preservative to protect all cut ends.

analogmusicman 02-09-2009 02:15 PM

tnx for the reply Bob. so,the 2x12's should be PT? I guess the 2x6's to be used for the treads shoulld also be PT? is this a problem with primer? will primer adhere to PT lumber?


Bob Mariani 02-09-2009 02:32 PM

You should wait about 6 months before putting a finish on pressure treated lumber. And then use a stain not paint. So no priming is needed. And yes the treads need to be pressure treated also. You might want to look at making a landing and breaking up that long run of stairs. Looks better and is more comfortable.

Scuba_Dave 02-09-2009 02:34 PM

All wood used outside should be PT, cedar or some other rot resistant wood. My stringers (PT) are bolted to 4x4 post on one side, the basement wall on the other - no contact with cement. The middle stringer sits on top of a piece of PT, if it rots in 10-15 years it can easily be replaced without effecting the stringer

I use the heavy duty PT treads - maybe 1 1/4" thick
PT can be stained, it needs to weather 1st

analogmusicman 02-09-2009 02:53 PM

interesting replies :yes: you learn alot here!
so, I assume that the cuts in the stringers should be painted with preservative,maybe Cuprinol?
BTW, these stairs are original and the house is 30 years old! they seem to be in decent shape and the original lumber was probably not PT since it's painted.
how about the idea of laying an old stringer on top of a new 2x12 and tracing with a pencil for the cuts? I mean,the guy doing the work originally seemed to know what he was doing since the stairs are level and look fine.


Termite 02-09-2009 03:02 PM

Athough stainless steel fasteners are nice, they're not necessary or required. Hot-dipped galvanized fasteners are completely fine for ACQ treated lumber in exterior use, at about half the price (or less). Electro-galvanized fasteners are not adequate because they don't have nearly as much zinc on them.

Scuba_Dave 02-09-2009 03:31 PM


Originally Posted by analogmusicman (Post 227811)
so, I assume that the cuts in the stringers should be painted with preservative,maybe Cuprinol?
how about the idea of laying an old stringer on top of a new 2x12 and tracing with a pencil for the cuts? I mean,the guy doing the work originally seemed to know what he was doing since the stairs are level and look fine.

I've never coated any of my cuts, but a good idea
I used the pre-made PT stringers - so already cut & treated
As long as the stringer isn't warped & meets current stair codes I would use it as a template

Willie T 02-09-2009 04:26 PM

Sometimes a small mistake could have been made in the cutting of your original stringers, and covered up by the use of a tapered wedge. Be careful to check this out as you trace your new wood. Use a framing square to check not only good, square 90 degree cuts, but also spacing between those cuts.

A landing is also great for handing heavy and/or bulky items to a friend... so you only carry them halfway.

wombosi 02-09-2009 08:22 PM

Hi There,
Here's my two cents (I recently completely rebuilt my porch stairs and learned a lot):

1) You said you will use 2X6 for treads? I assume this means you will use two of them on one tread with a small gap between for watershed? If so, then I would absolutely use the existing stringer as a template, after you verify everything on it is correct. I would still pull all your measurements, make sure everything is perfect on the old stringer before copying it blindly. Good to know how to build stairs.

2) Sometimes it's common to cut the stringer treads out of square by 3/16" or so to allow water to drain. I think since you will use the split tread method, having it all level is OK, too, but you will likely wind up with more ice buildup and quicker deterioration (if you're in a wintry climate).

3) I would use only screws (either stainless or coated deck screws) for assembling the staircase, and predrill the stringers to avoid splitting.

4) If you WANT to paint your staircase, hit the stringers with a palm sander before cutting. Then roll on some good primer. If not using PT for treads, definitely preprime the hell out of them (all sides), and especially seal your end cuts.

Then again, it's PT man. Just build the stairs and enjoy it for 30 years and let the next "Dutchman" rebuild them.

I wouldn't bother trying to attach them to the concrete footing, although a few tapcons couldn't hurt. LIke theother guy said, you can install some blocking at the bottom and anchor through that.

You might want to break up your long span by adding a few 4X4 posts in the middle of the staircase with some sort of header across them.

Good luck Man.

Scuba_Dave 02-09-2009 08:30 PM

I also screw the stair treads in from underneath - no visible screws
I use metal brackets, more work, but a nice clean look
Also no chance of splinters or water soaking into the stair tread thru the screw hole

analogmusicman 02-10-2009 10:26 PM

just curious: what's the scoop on those "pre-cut" stringers that I'm hearing about sometimes? you'd think it'd be impossible to predetermine the right angles and such.


Bob Mariani 02-11-2009 05:58 AM

Available in a standard rise and tread size, but not likely they will stock one for 13 steps. If yours seem to be comfortable trace the old as you planned to.

Michael Thomas 02-11-2009 07:53 AM

You might also want to consider these:

Shamus 02-11-2009 09:15 AM

Not really much to add other than to agree with what's already been posted.

The suggestion about making a landing mid-point is a good idea. I don't know if you have room to make a 90* transition or just create a landing half way on the straight stairway. Either way it is both visually and practically a good idea to consider.

Keep 1 of the stringers intact as you remove the old stair, the best one. Using it as a template is fine. Although once you've laid out one it isn't all that difficult. Just make sure they are all identical. :thumbsup:

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