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Deck Stair Stringer Layout

Talking to many deck builders over the years we have found that stair construction is almost universally considered the most difficult part of building a deck. In order to layout the stairs you need to measure the exact height of the deck from the top of the decking to the location where the stairs are going to land on the ground. You can input this number into our stair calculator on to determine how many stairs you will need and at what specific riser height they will need to be built. The calculator will provide you with all the vital information necessary to cut your stringers. In cases where the stairs can land wherever necessary it should be easy to move forward. If you are trying to land on a specific position like the edge of a patio you may need to manipulate your stair configuration or change the run distance by adding or subtracting landings or shifting the starting position for the stairs.

Stair Stringer Layout

Determine the total rise for your stairs using a level and a tape measure. Measure the distance from the top of the deck surface to the top of the stair landing. Input the total rise number into the stair calculator to determine the number of stairs, each stair rise and run for laying out your stair stringers. Example shows outside drop mounted stairs.

Using the information from the calculator mark your rise and run on the framing square. Example shows drawing the top step run at 10" and rise at 6-3/8".
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After laying out your rise and run measurements on your 2x12 stair stringer remove 1" from the back of the top run if you plan on installing a 1" thick riser board.

After laying out each rise and run remove the thickness of the tread for the bottom step from the bottom of the rise.

Example using 5/4x6 decking which is 1" thick. Stair rise is 6-3/8", bottom stair stringer rise is 5-3/8". The cut line is in red.

Notice that the stair stinger top step has a 9" run and the next step has a 10" run. The back tread for the top step had to be ripped down to fit the opening.

The bottom step has a 5-3/8" rise. The next step has a 6-3/8" rise. Notice that the stair stringers land on the concrete landing with a 12" bearing.

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