Whether your deck design requires a step-or-two or a long staircase with a landing, building your stairs requires forethought, planning and oftentimes tricky construction calculations to get-it-right.

Deck Stair Designs by Archadeck, St. Louis Mo

Deck Stair Designs by Archadeck, St. Louis Mo

In short, deck stairs must be built precisely to meet local building codes for safety. And they need to look great too!

  • Your stairs shouldn’t be too tall or shallow and there’s no room for error.
  • With plenty of style options, building deck stairs can be complex so consider talking with a contractor.
Deck Steps with Guard Rail and Hand Rail, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

Deck Steps with Guard Rail and Hand Rail, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

Let’s begin by defining the three primary deck stair components:

  • Risers — what you walk on
  • Treads — the enclosed space between the steps
  • Stringers — the sloped boards that provide support under the stairs

Second Story, Multilevel Deck with Staircase, St. Louis Mo in South County, by Archadeck

Second Story, Multilevel Deck with Staircase, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

Other industry terms you might hear include:  run, load, rise, landing, stair pad, hand rail, grab rail, or guard rail.

Next, let’s look at six possibilities when it comes to stair engineering:  no steps at all, wide steps, straight stairs (with or without landings), multiple staircases, cascading or spiral stairs.

When to NOT use deck steps

Generally, there are two types of decks that don’t require stairs: a platform deck that’s close to the ground or an elevated balcony deck purposefully designed without stairs.

Platform Decks Without Stairs by Archadeck

Platform Deck Without A Staircase by Archadeck

Balcony Decks Without Stairs by Archadeck

Balcony Decks Without Stairs by Archadeck

Price-wise, if stairs aren’t required — logistically or by choice — you’ll have some cost savings in both materials and labor.

When to use wide deck steps

Wider deck steps (see photos 1 and 2 above) lend a graceful deck-to-yard transition and are obviously safer than very narrow or steep ones.  But for a sleek look and bonus seating, take your design a step further (pun intended!) and consider over-sized deck steps for any multi-tiered or low-to-the-ground project. (See photos below)

Multilevel Deck With Oversized Steps for Style and Seating by Archadeck

Multilevel Deck With Oversized Steps for Style and Seating by Archadeck

Low Deck With Wide Angled Step by Archadeck

Low Deck With Level Change and Wide Angled Step by Archadeck

When to use straight deck stairs

Straight stair designs are most common both inside and outside of your home.  They are straightforward (another pun), easier to build and easy to use.

Straight Deck Staircase, Without A Landing, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

Straight Deck Staircase, Without A Landing, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

A single run of stairs takes up more linear square footage when compared to bidirectional, turning stairs.  So depending on the layout of your home and yard, a different configuration might be preferred.

When to use deck stairs with landings

If the height of your deck dictates a long ( or very very long!) staircase, the project plans will require a landing (or two) to break up the span.  Landings can be constructed for straight, L-shaped or any stair arrangement that switches direction.

Straight Deck Stairs With Landings by Archadeck

Two Sets of Straight Deck Stairs With Landing by Archadeck

L-Shaped Deck Stairs with Landings by Archadeck

L-Shaped Deck Stairs with Landings by Archadeck

The benefits of landings include visual interest and safety; however construction-wise, a staircase with a landing involves different calculations.

When to use more than one set of stairs

Just like the interior space in your home, if your deck has more than one floor, you’ll want stairs to navigate from deck-to-deck and to the backyard as well.

Large Deck With 3 Sets of Stairs by Archadeck

Large Multilevel Deck With Three Sets of Stairs by Archadeck

Or if you have a single plane deck but want to access it from more than one spot, dual staircases are convenient.

Deck With Dual Staircases by Archadeck

Deck With Dual Staircases by Archadeck

When to use cascading stairs

If a deck is slightly raised, cascading steps can be used to bend around a corner, creating a connection between surface levels and to your backyard.  This type of flared architecture is practical for only those projects with a limited number of steps — say, three to five.

Cascading stairs, sometimes referred to as wrap-around steps, are trendy, attractive and functional too.

Deck With Cascading Stair Design by Archadeck

Deck With Cascading Stair Design by Archadeck

Multilevel Deck With Cascading Stairs, by Archadeck

Multilevel Deck With Cascading Stairs, by Archadeck

Tip:  Building code stipulations will vary from location-to-location.  Some municipalities may frown upon cascading steps while others approve or possibly require special handrails.  It just depends.

When to use spiral stairs

If you’d like to save space and ‘glam-up’ your deck, spiral stairs might be the ticket.  But saving space also means the stairs will be steep and perhaps difficult to use, especially for young children or elderly folks.  And just like every aspect of your project, make certain your city ordinances and Homeowners Association will accept spiral stairs too.

Deck With Spiral Stairs by Archadeck

Deck With Spiral Stairs by Archadeck

Key Takeaways

  • Deck stairs are important for traffic flow, accessibility and appearance — from the curb and from your deck.
  • Your property layout and your budget will impact your stair selection.
  • Blueprint styles include:  straight or turning, wide or wrap-around, steps with or without landings, multiple staircases, spiral or even a mix.
  • An understanding of building code requirements and neighborhood rules is essential.
  • Better yet, for a worry-free project have an experienced contractor, such as Archadeck, guide you through the process, hassle-free.

Want to learn more about Archadeck Outdoor Living?

For more deck or other outdoor living ideas visit our website west-county.archadeck.com to find picture galleries and an easy online inquiry form — How Can We Help?.

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And then, when you’re ready to talk to a St. Louis deck builder, please consider Archadeck.  We’re locally owned and operated with offices in St. Louis West County – Ellisville, Missouri.  Please call us anytime at 636-227-0800.

Outside of St. Louis, visit archadeck.com or call 888-687-3325.

Other sources

Inspectopedia, Popular Mechanics, NADRA, DIY Network, mycarpentry.com, decks.com, SFGate Home Guides, Keuka Studios, doityourself.com, Archadeck Outdoor Living, Archadecks of Suburban Boston, The Foothills in Colorado, Georgia, Cape Fear, Austin TX, Central Connecticut, Chester County PA