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Old 06-24-2012, 12:40 AM   #1
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Wood over Concrete Stairs? Need Some Knowledge From You Guys


Hey guys, this is my first post, and appreciate all knowledge. In my backyard, I have a patio that is completely covered by a patio cover. I live in Southern Cali - no freeze issues. I would like to cover the concrete stairs from the patio to the house in wood. I'm pretty hand with wood, and can figure out this part. But the issue i'm concerned about as I do internet searches is people saying that the wood will rot over time, it has to be pressure treated wood, etc. etc. I guess my thoughts are: yeah, the wood will rot, as all wood rots, but like in 15-20 years min. Also, I plan to treat it with as serious a sealer as I can to ensure its life. I can even use pressure treated wood for the frame, but I want the outside(visible) to be douglas fir, which is what I have used for other accents on my home, to match the style I'm going for. These too will be treated with whatever sealer I choose. No water issues here. and will rarely get wet. I just want to know that if I choose to go forward, and do what I plan mentioned above, will I have any problems? will my wood rot quickly? Will I be wasting my time? Should I look for another option? Or for a SoCal home, will this work for the next few decades? Let me know your thoughts, advice and experience. thanks again.
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Old 06-24-2012, 12:44 AM   #2
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Wood over Concrete Stairs? Need Some Knowledge From You Guys


If wood is properly maintained consistently it will last 20 years for sure. Good luck! Out of curiosity how are you attaching the wood to the concrete?

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Old 06-24-2012, 10:11 AM   #3
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Just keep in mind even the best sealers are only good for a few years, they need to be constantly applied. Yes pressure treated would be fine for a while.
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:18 AM   #4
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Wood is apt to rot when in contact with a damp surface. ie. concrete soil etc If first you install a furring strip of pressure treated lumber to the concrete using Tap-con screws, you should be able to construct the stairs from Douglas Fir. If a slight slope is included to each tread it will ensure that no water will "stand" on each board. Leave a space between each board to allow for expansion and contraction. You won't be able to stop water from getting in so make sure that water has a way out of the structure and good air circulation as a way to ventilate the concrete. Treat once a year with a good water repellant
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:18 AM   #5
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Wood over Concrete Stairs? Need Some Knowledge From You Guys


How much square footage of concrete steps do you have to cover?

Nothing lasts forever. Do it. The douglas fir will look sharp.

Last edited by hammerlane; 06-24-2012 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:35 AM   #6
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maybe consider gluing flashing down between wood and concrete so wood does not absorb moisture from concrete. could give it a few more usable rot free years...
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Old 06-24-2012, 03:47 PM   #7
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thanks for all the smart replies. not too much square footage... maybe 10'by 4'. so it seems that I should use some pressure treated furring strips for the frame. and attach the planks from there... couple more questions
1) can I use my air compressor and some 18 gauge brad nails to attach the planks? or for some reason are screws more appropriate. not sure if people walking on it require a different fastener than simple brad nails.
2) the only moisture that this will deal with is the moisture in the air when it rains (its completely covered - no direct water contact). knowing this, do I still have slope the steps? still have to worry about making channels in the frame for water to escape? have to put down flashing?
3) what do you recommend for connecting the frame to the concrete?
4) what sealer do you recommend. these are stairs so they need to be tough, will be walked on, etc. i plan to stain the wood.. should I use some specific type of varnish or sealer?

thanks again
J.
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Old 06-24-2012, 03:58 PM   #8
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Wood over Concrete Stairs? Need Some Knowledge From You Guys


1. Can you post a photo of the existing concrete steps.
2. Are you doing this largely for aesthetics ie. you're not a fan of the concrete look or are they falling apart?
3. How many inches clearance do you have from the existing top tread to the bottom of the door? In our climate we want to have about 2" as you step from the outside indoors as we have snow to contend with ... but I dare say where you are that isn't an issue.

Something to bear in mind ... if you add any additional surface to each of the treads (wood or otherwise) the 1st (bottom) step will be a different height from all the others ... unless you are able to raise that level too. This can be a trip hazard because when someone walks up a stair they naturally adjust for each stair being the same height. Building codes for stairs typically allow 1/4" variation between step heights on a stair for this very reason.
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Old 06-24-2012, 04:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jousley View Post
thanks for all the smart replies. not too much square footage... maybe 10'by 4'. so it seems that I should use some pressure treated furring strips for the frame. and attach the planks from there... couple more questions
1) can I use my air compressor and some 18 gauge brad nails to attach the planks? or for some reason are screws more appropriate. not sure if people walking on it require a different fastener than simple brad nails.

thanks again
J.
>> BRAD NAILS ARE FOR ATTACHING TRIM (BASEBOARDS, DOOR & WINDOW TRIM, ETC) WHICH ARE NOT SUBJECT TO ANY FORM OF LOAD OTHER THAN THEIR OWN WEIGHT. DECK BOARDS SHOULD BE ATTACHED WITH SCREWS (STRONGER IN THIS APPLICATION THAT NAILS WHICH ARE BETTER IF TORSIONAL FORCES ARE INVOLVED). MAKE SURE TO USE THE CORRECT TREATED SCREWS OR STAINLESS STEEL ONES IF USING PRESSURE TREATED LUMBER.

(sorry for caps ... I'm not shouting, honest )
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Old 06-24-2012, 04:12 PM   #10
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heres a quick pic. pretty small easy peasy. you'll notice they slope a bit as the patio itself has a little slope. Will use appropriate screws. concrete is in fine shape. just for aesthetics. let me know if there is anything else I need to know before I begin.

J.
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Old 06-24-2012, 04:19 PM   #11
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Capt. Paul from the Virgin Islands.. a warm and rainy place so have a bit of experiance with this...If the wood is fitted tight (think tonge and groove flooring) a little slope is good... if there are spaces between the planks then the drainage needs to be good on the concrete steps below.. if they dont have a bit of slope already cut some drain slots in them with a diamond blade on your 4 or 5 inch grinder... or one that fits on your skill saw.. Tap con screws will be good to place the frame with.. a little polyuratane glu like 5200 under them will help. Gun nails are fine... for the planks... If you find them in monel or stainless even better. Varnish or seal the back of the planks too. If you find white ceder you can use that too as it looks much like fir but bugs and rot hate it. Good Luck with it.. Paul
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Old 06-24-2012, 04:49 PM   #12
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Wood over Concrete Stairs? Need Some Knowledge From You Guys


If you want to follow what the CA code would be.....any wood in contact with concrete or the ground must be pressure treated wood.

If it were me....I would attach 2x strips of PT to the stairs using anchors recessed into the wood....

Then on top of that, what ever you want to put on....just make sure that you use galvanized or stainless screws/nails. I would suggest screws so you can remove it later if need be.

One thing to consider is splinters....not fun if walking out in bare feet.....so make sure you use something like teak or redwood. I personally think redwood will be your cheapest and easiest option.

As a side note.....have you considered using tile?
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:15 PM   #13
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Now I see the photo, I have another suggestion.

The bottom step is shorter in height probably as the concrete patio was poured after the steps were built.
If you raised the top step up to the door threshold and then split the difference of the overall height that would raise the bottom step to something more negotiable. When steps are less than 8" high it is advisable to make them deeper to help eliminate a trip hazard.
Also consider returning the bottom step around the sides of the top step as an added feature
There are always exceptions to codes when you do it yourself
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:15 PM   #14
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Whatever you do, I would certainly try to work out the math of the two different steps so that you finish up with EXACTLY the same 'step-down' height for all three risers. Right now, you have a serious trip-hazard. Build that issue right out of the equation now that you have the chance.... it's just a matter of addition and subtraction.

Seriously, having that big, tall step in the middle and a short one at the top... and an even shorter one at the bottom is just plain wrong. And it looks amateurish, too.
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Old 06-24-2012, 07:03 PM   #15
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"Also consider returning the bottom step around the sides of the top step as an added feature
There are always exceptions to codes when you do it yourself
"

what do you mean?

so build the top step right up to under the door trim? then frame another step. I imagine i'll only need two steps. am I on the right track?

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