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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.


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Step-by-step instructions for installing 2x12 stair stringers.

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Next Step: Railings Articles
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Railings add the finishing touch to your deck. Get inspired by these deck railing ideas and styles from Decks.com and make your outdoor space unique.

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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

Stair Construction Requirements

Learn how to build stairs using 2x12 stringers. Watch our step-by-step DIY video. Review the code requirements for stair construction.

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.

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...

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All decks greater than 30" above grade must have a guardrail.

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In this easy-to-follow guide, we explain the process of building a deck gate and installing it on your deck.

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