Create a free account and get instant & exclusive access to all that Decks.com has to offer:

Checkmark 1,000+ How-To articles
Checkmark 80+ Free Deck Plans
Checkmark Deck Planning Calculators
Checkmark Free & Simple Deck Design Tool
Ready to Start Your Project?

Building Box Steps and Stairs for Decks

Box style stairs are popular for very low decks and transitions between levels of tiered decks. Many deck builders use this technique to build a wide set of stairs across the front or side of deck. Box stairs do not use cut out stair stringers like traditional stairs. Essentially, box stairs are a series of pressure-treated wood boxes that are stacked on top of each other to create a short run of stairs. This method is easier to build and sturdier for stairs with up to three steps. Stairs with more than three steps should be built using stair stringers.

The first step is to measure the height of the stairs to determine the number of stairs you need to build. The maximum riser height is 8" and the minimum tread depth is 10". Most deck builders use 2x6 material to frame the stair boxes and use (2) 5/4x6 deck boards for each tread with a 1/2" overhang over the riser board. Cut the sides of the boxes and fill in the interior with blocking every 16" on center for wood decks and 12" on center for composite decks. Finish the stair boxes by installing the decking to create the treads. Use strap ties to connect the individual stair box frames together and secure the stairs to the deck frame using bolts.

We recommend installing frost footings for box stairs that will land on the ground. Just set a 4x4 post on top of the footing and attach it into the inside front corners of the box stairs. These posts can extend past the stair as a rail post. This will prevent the stairs from moving and shifting due to frost heave.

Box Stairs
Box Stairs

A series of stair box frames creates a cascading staircase.


Popular Stairs Articles
Staircases

Box Steps and Stairs

Learn how to build a set of box platforms to act as stairs for a low deck. You don't need to cut stair stringers.

Staircases

Building an ADA Deck Ramp

Learn how to build an ADA-accessible wheelchair ramp onto your deck to meet building codes. Ramps must have a 1:12 slope.

Staircases

Building Cascading or Wrap Around Stairs

Learn how to build a set of cascading or flared stairs around an angled corner of a deck.

Next Step: Railings Articles
Deck Railing Types

Glass Rails

Installing glass rails will usually require you to build the rail frame first and take precise measurements to custom order the tempered safety glass...

Deck Railing Types

Metal Railings

Learn about metal guard rail systems for decks.

Deck Railing Parts

Rail Parts

We discuss the different components that compose a wood deck rail system. Learn about rail posts, top and bottom rails, balusters and a top cap.

Get more helpful resources delivered right to your inbox
More Helpful Resources

Explore Articles by Topic

Create a free account and get instant & exclusive access to all that Decks.com has to offer:

Checkmark 1,000+ How-To articles
Checkmark 80+ Free Deck Plans
Checkmark Deck Planning Calculators
Checkmark Free & Simple Deck Design Tool
Staircases

Building Box Steps and Stairs for Decks

Box style stairs are popular for very low decks and transitions between levels of tiered decks. Many deck builders use this technique to build a wide set of stairs across the front or side of deck. Box stairs do not use cut out stair stringers like traditional stairs. Essentially, box stairs are a series of pressure-treated wood boxes that are stacked on top of each other to create a short run of stairs. This method is easier to build and sturdier for stairs with up to three steps. Stairs with more than three steps should be built using stair stringers.

The first step is to measure the height of the stairs to determine the number of stairs you need to build. The maximum riser height is 8" and the minimum tread depth is 10". Most deck builders use 2x6 material to frame the stair boxes and use (2) 5/4x6 deck boards for each tread with a 1/2" overhang over the riser board. Cut the sides of the boxes and fill in the interior with blocking every 16" on center for wood decks and 12" on center for composite decks. Finish the stair boxes by installing the decking to create the treads. Use strap ties to connect the individual stair box frames together and secure the stairs to the deck frame using bolts.

We recommend installing frost footings for box stairs that will land on the ground. Just set a 4x4 post on top of the footing and attach it into the inside front corners of the box stairs. These posts can extend past the stair as a rail post. This will prevent the stairs from moving and shifting due to frost heave.

Box Stairs
Box Stairs

A series of stair box frames creates a cascading staircase.


Popular Stairs Articles
Staircases

Box Steps and Stairs

Learn how to build a set of box platforms to act as stairs for a low deck. You don't need to cut stair stringers.

Staircases

Building an ADA Deck Ramp

Learn how to build an ADA-accessible wheelchair ramp onto your deck to meet building codes. Ramps must have a 1:12 slope.

Staircases

Stair Tread Nosing

Learn how to install treads to overlap the riser boards.

Next Step: Railings Articles
Deck Railing Types

Glass Rails

Installing glass rails will usually require you to build the rail frame first and take precise measurements to custom order the tempered safety glass...

Railing Codes

Deck Railing Codes

Learn about the building codes that regulate guardrails. How high do rails need to be? What are the rail infill requirements?

Deck Railing Types

Glass Rails

Installing glass rails will usually require you to build the rail frame first and take precise measurements to custom order the tempered safety glass...

Get more helpful resources delivered right to your inbox

Explore Articles by Topic

More Helpful Resources