6 DIY Outdoor Stairs You Can Construct Today (With Pictures)
Outdoor stairs are necessary when an elevation change is too great to be navigated without a set of stairs. For example, many homes have a set of stairs leading up to the front door. Sometimes, there may also be a set of stairs in the backyard.
While it may seem tricky to DIY stair construction, it’s a relatively simple process. With some planning and basic carpentry skills, you can build yourself a beautiful set of stairs that will last for years to come. Here are some plans you can use:
The 6 DIY Outdoor Stairs You Can Construct Today
1. Outdoor Stairs on a Slope
|Wood, concrete, gravel, rebar
|Shovel, level, tape measure, hammer, drill
The outdoor stairs built on a slope are ideal for situations where you have a lot of height changes. For example, this would be a great option if your backyard has many hills.
You have to start by pre-drilling and screwing a 10-inch lag bolt on the front side of every step. It will secure the front of the step in place. Then, you have to build each step on the previous one.
Before doing this, make sure you have dug out the hillside. That will allow you to have a level surface to work on. You should also put gravel down before you start building the stairs. It will allow for adequate drainage.
After you have built the steps, you can add concrete to the front of each one. Concrete will give them a more polished look.
2. Stone Steps as Outdoor Stairs
|Stone, gravel, mortar, rebar
|Masonry trowel, level, tape measure, hammer, drill
Stone steps and walkways are a great way to add a bit of beauty to your outdoor space. Since stone is durable, it can last many years with proper care. Plus, it gives your home a rustic vibe.
One of the best things about stone for your outdoor stairs is that there are many different styles to choose from. You can go with a more traditional look or opt for something more modern.
You first need to lay out the stones on the ground where you want the stairs to go. Make sure you allow for adequate drainage by placing gravel under the stones. Once the stones are laid out, you can begin to mortar them. It’s best to start with the bottom step and work your way up.
After the mortar has dried, you can add gravel between the stones. It will help keep them in place and add a bit of stability. When choosing stones for your stairs, make sure you select ones that are the same height. That will make the stairs more even and easier to use.
3. Concrete Outdoor Stairs
|Lumber, concrete, form-release agent, rubble, gravel
|Level, tape measure, hammer, circular saw, framing square
Concrete stairs are an excellent option for those who want an easy-to-build, durable set of stairs. The materials are also very affordable and can be found at most home improvement stores.
First, you have to measure the rise and run of the stairs. It will give you the dimensions you need to cut the lumber for the forms. After the lumber is cut, lay out the footings. They should be 3 inches wider than your stairs. Then, you have to set the forms in place. Make sure they’re level before you pour the concrete.
Use a framing square to ensure the corners are at 90-degree angles. Then you can add the release agent to the forms. It will help the concrete not stick to the forms. Pour the concrete into the forms and spread evenly with a trowel.
After pouring the concrete, you have to wait for it to cure. It will take at least 24 hours. Once it’s dry, you can remove the forms and add gravel between the cracks.
4. Outdoor Steps with Cinder Blocks
|Cinder blocks, mortar, rebar
|Tape measure, level
Cinder block stairs can be a good addition to any home. They are easy to build and can be customized to fit your needs.
To start this project, you must first dig out the area where the stairs will go. The hole must be a bit wider than the cinder blocks and about 6 inches deep. Measure the hole to make sure it is the correct size before starting to dig.
After digging the hole, you can begin to lay the cinder blocks. Go from bottom to top, ensuring each block is leveled with the one underneath.
The project is similar to building outdoor stairs with concrete. But concrete and cinder differ in appearance and how easy they are to work with. Cinder blocks tend to be more porous. So, they will require more mortar to fill in the cracks. You will also need to use rebar with cinder blocks to help reinforce them. Add the rebar between each layer of blocks as you go up. When you reach the top, you can finish off the stairs with a handrail or other decoration.
5. Grassy Outdoor Stairs
|Sod, landscape fabric, soil, gravel
|Sod cutter, shovel
For a more natural look, you can create stairs out of sod. The project is a bit more labor-intensive than the others, but you can finish it on the weekend.
Use a sod cutter to remove the grass from the area where the stairs will go. Cut strips about six inches wide and as long as the stairs will be. You can then lay the strips on the ground, starting at the bottom and working your way up. The strips should be at level with each other.
Once all the strips are in place, you can begin to fill them in. Start by adding a layer of landscape fabric. It will help prevent the soil from eroding. Next, add a layer of soil. Water the area well and wait for the sod to grow in. After a few weeks, the grass will establish itself, and the stairs will be ready to use.
6. Treehouse Stairs
|Wood, paintbrush, wood stain
|3-inch gold wood screws, miter saw, 2x6x8s
If you have a treehouse, you will need a safe and sturdy set of stairs to get to it. This project uses two 2×6 boards to create a sturdy set of stairs.
Start by cutting the boards to the desired length. The length will depend on how high your treehouse is. Use a miter saw to cut the boards at a 45-degree angle. It will create the treads for the stairs.
After that, you can start screwing the boards together. Use 3-inch screws and attach them from the underside of the stairs. Once the stairs are together, you can add a bit of personality by painting or staining them.
Which Materials Can You Use for Outdoor Stairs?
Since outdoor stairs are subject to the elements, choosing materials that can withstand the weather and wear and tear is essential. Some good options for materials include:
- Cinder Block: Cinder blocks are a good option for outdoor stairs. Cinder is a type of aggregate made from coal, which is very dense and durable. In addition, the blocks are typically hollow, which makes them lightweight and easy to work with.
- Brick: Bricks are made from a type of clay fired in a kiln. The process makes them very strong and durable. However, bricks can be heavy.
- Concrete: Concrete is another good option for outdoor stairs. It is a solid and durable material that can withstand the elements. You can either pour concrete or work with concrete blocks.
- Wood: Wood is a good option if you’re building a treehouse or deck stairs. Just be sure to choose a type of wood that is weather-resistant, such as cedar or pressure-treated lumber.
- Metal: Metal stairs are becoming more popular because they are very strong and durable. They can also be made to look very attractive.
When choosing materials for outdoor stairs, it’s essential to consider the climate in your area. For example, if your area gets a lot of snow, choose materials that won’t be slippery when wet.
In addition, make sure the materials can withstand the weight of people using the stairs. Cinder blocks, bricks, and concrete are all excellent choices for this.
You should also consider your budget. Some materials, like stone, can be quite expensive. Others, like concrete, are more affordable.
Building outdoor stairs yourself can be a fun weekend project. The ideas we have mentioned above can help you get started. Just be sure to opt for materials appropriate for the climate and the weight of people using the stairs. With these plans, you can build a great set of outdoor stairs with some planning and effort.
Featured Image Credit: Joshua Olsen, Unsplash