Stairs are one of the most important elements of any outdoor structure design and are often taken for granted. There are many code regulations that dictate how deck stairs must be constructed. These code regulations are put in place for safety purposes and are taken very seriously with reputable contractors and building inspectors. A stairway is not the place you want to fail because the results could be disastrous. With safety in mind, the minimum requirement for stairs is 3′ wide, we often build our stairs 4′ wide which exceeds the standard but allows for the opportunity of two people on the stairs at the same time comfortably and safely. At first glance it seems that stairs are simple, but when it comes to stairs there is definitely more than meets the eye.
Stair construction in itself is labor intensive because a lot of framing components go into this small area. The carpentry involved in building stairs is something that needs to be done by a good carpenter that knows how to cover all the angles and framework in building a good quality stair. Stairs are generally the first component on a deck to fail because they are often not built with longevity in mind. Some contractors will frame their stairs with nails that will deteriorate more rapidly than those built with screws. The reason for the failure of stairs built with nails is the continuous force put on the framing as you walk down the stairs. Over time this force will cause separation and deterioration. We build our stairs using the Archadeck methodology which means we use all the proper hardware, framing angles and screws in a stair construction to add to the life of the stairs. In addition to the framing hardware we also either put columns or footers at the base of the stairs to keep them from moving and we never rest the framing on the ground. We also back all of our structural constructions with a five-year warranty.
Along with the importance of the construction of the stair, stair direction and stair style can make or break the fluidity of your outdoor design. The first consideration to think about is the flow of your outdoor living space to determine where the ideal placement of the stairs should be and how many sets you may need. This is especially important in back yards with play areas or if you desire additional access to your side yard as well as directly into the rear yard. In this scenario we sometimes recommend multiple sets of stairs.
Taking it all in stride
Each outdoor structure represents a different set of components when it comes to stairs. For example some structures will require railings and some won’t. Any set of stairs that has three or more sets of treads requires a railing going down for safety reasons. With decks requiring railings, we usually build off the back of the house near the location of the homeowner’s outdoor dining area because people often want stairs in the center of this area as to not impede the view with rail while dining . The most important aspect to remember about proper stair placement is to place them in areas so they don’t negatively affect the view or the traffic flow to where the stairs are leading to.
Landings are another element that is carefully dictated by the height and shape of your outdoor structure. When landings are used on elevated decks we always ask the homeowner where they want the stairs to end. Landings allow us to make directional changes and meet code requirements. For example, porches are required to have have a landing right outside the door. Porch stairs also work best when built close to the house as to not congest the traffic flow through the porch.
Many homeowners want wrap-around stairs or bay stairs. Though these are costly, they provide a nice wide opening which can also be used for additional seating. On very elevated decks spiral staircases often fit the bill. Spiral staircases are typically made from powder coated aluminum and take up considerably less space than traditional stairs. When talking about spiral staircases you cannot forget to mention their unique shape, aesthetic appeal and “cool” factor!
Stair direction is another fact to consider. This is why we often build stairs that lead directly into your key backyard destination or focal point of the entire backyard. A good example of this is a deck that has access directly to a patio below or an elevated deck or porch that spills directly into the surround of your pool or spa.
Last but certainly not least, we have to mention stair lighting. Lighting within stair risers and small dome lights on your rail posts add a new layer to your outdoor experience. Though deck lighting is not required by code, is does make evening travel on the stairs easier and safer.
Whether you are considering a deck addition, or a multi-structure backyard makeover, Archadeck of Columbus will provide you with a design that harmonizes with your home and your backyard. We can help you ensure your outdoor oasis flows effortlessly from one level of enjoyment to the next.
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(740) 879 – 3730
See more stairs that are designed for function and flavor by visiting our steps and stairs gallery located on our website.