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OK, it looks way more involved than it really is. Let’s say you’re building a set of stairs for an outside deck, the first thing you want to do is to determine what the total rise is (remember this from 9th-grade math?). The rise is the distance from where the stairs land (ground or sidewalk) and the decking of the deck itself. Easy right?
Now, let’s say that the deck isn’t too high and that its 60″ inches; don’t look at it as 5 feet that’s too hard. You always want to know it in terms of inches when you need to calculate how many steps to build. Now for the easy part and trust me, everyone screws up here. Why? Because they don’t know what you will know if you keep reading.
The steps should be 8″ inches each, but not over 8 3/4 (check your local building code). No matter what, they all need to be the same. And I mean 100% exactly the same! This is how I do it: Start by dividing 8 into the total rise, and remember we had 60″ so 8 goes into 60 inches 7.50 times. This means you are going to have 8 steps (rises) at 7 1/2 ” high. If you want a higher step, start with a higher number such as 8 1/2″. Either way, you’ll want to reverse your math by adding, in this case, 7.50 x 8 which is 60 inches. Don’t screw up here, not now.
8 inches would be 64 inches high, which is too high, right?
So let’s try a lower number:
7 3/4 come out to 62 inches, still too high.
7 1/2 comes out just right.
Want to see something funny as hell? I love when I get called to fix some other contractor’s stairs errors. From above, we know we have only 8 steps right? Well, did you know the deck, in this case, is the last step? So you’re only really making 7 steps! The next time I’m called out to fix a set of stairs, I’m going to post a picture of it here for you to laugh at with me! It cracks me up. They should have read this first, LOL. If you need more info on deck building try decks.com