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18.2 Stairs: Riser Stairs

Wood Riser Stairs

Exterior deck riser stairs constructed of pressure treasted wood.


  1. To calculate stair rise, measure level from the finish deck top surface to where the stairs will land on the ground and divide equally
  2. Check the overall width of the decking material being used 2 boards wide including the space for tread run
  3. Stair stringer are to be installed on 16” centers
  4. Be sure to offset centre stair stringer when step lights are to be installed so step light box can fit into centre of stair trim
  5. Stringers are cut out of 2x12
  6. If outside stringer is exposed use 2x12 Cedar (for a cedar deck)
  7. Kick plates are cut out of 2x8

Drop Block Support for Riser Stairs

Riser stairs secured to a deck with drop blocks.

Drop blocks for stair support are fastened to the back of the front faceplate or outside joist. The stairs are secured to the drop blocks thru the back frame of the stairs.

DO NOT install drop blocks where rail posts or step lights are to be installed.

Low Maintenance Riser Stairs

  1. Low maintenance stairs are built similar to wood stairs
  2. A kick plate of decking or trim is used rather than 1 ½ “ Cedar
  3. A wood filler the same thickness as the maintenance free kick plate supports the front edge of the tread and is covered up by the stair trim
  4. Stringer cladding may be one or two pieces wide depending on the width of the material

Exterior deck low maintenance riser stairs construction details.

Riser Stairs and Landings

Landings are used to break up the run of the stairs and often to change the stair direction. Landings are supported by their own post, beam, joist structure.

A landing used to break up the stairs into 2 sections and change stair direction.

Be sure to off set the centre stair stringer if lights are being installed into the risers of the steps. Stair rail is installed at 32” to 36” in height on the stairs.

Stairs, with a landing to change direction, from a high deck.

A 2x8 cedar trim board is fastened to both outside stringers just above each piece of riser trim. This adds strength to the stringers, boxes in the stairs, and closes in the space under the bottom rail to meet building code. Low maintenance decking and cladding can also be used for almost maintenance free stairs.

Stairs from a high deck with a landing part way down to change the direction of the stairs.

This landing has been used to change direction of the stairs. 42” hand rail was required on the landing for this high deck.

Riser Stairs that Finish on a Landing

Deck riser stairs down to a landing.

To calculate number of stairs and stair rise and run:

  • Overall rise (35”) divided by maximum rise (8”) = 4.375 = 5 stairs
  • Overall rise (35”) divided by 5 stairs = 7” step rise
  • Landing is 3 treads/ 4 risers (4x7”) below deck level
  • Run is always 2 boards wide on stringer stairs
  • Run (11 ¼ ) x 3 stairs = 33 ¾ “ Front faceplate to kick plate of last step
  • We recommend that the landing extends 12” under the bottom step
  • Total run (33 ¾ “) – 12” support of landing under step = 21 ¾ “
  • Front faceplate of deck to back edge of landing = 21 ¾ “


Deduct 1 ½” or thickness of the kick plate off of the top of the back of the stringer which allows for the front kick plate. Deduct the thickness of the decking off of the bottom of the stringer.


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