Stairs 9: Answers about Stairs

Here's a list of Dave's answers about building stairs you might find of help. Click on a title to see its answer.

Angle of Stairs

How do we get the correct angles to cut the stair stringers and handrail posts?    [see answer]

Bouncy Stringers

I have straight-run, open riser stairs up two stories. Each flight has about 17 risers. I was planning on using 2x12s for the stringers, but once they were installed and the treads were put on, they were still very bouncy.    [see answer]

Building Deck Stairs

How to cut the bottom of the stair stringers so the steps of the backyard wood deck stairs stay level to make up for the unevenness of the ground.    [see answer]

Concrete Landing

I took the old concrete landing out from under the front steps because it was not level. How would you go about replacing it with a new one?    [see answer]

Cut Stringer

I'm pretty good with tools, but I'm concerned with getting straight cuts on the stair stringers with my circular saw. Are there any tricks or helpful hints on making straight cuts with a circular saw?    [see answer]

Dadoed Stringers

Some stairs are made by cutting a groove in the stringers for the threads to fit into. Is this done with a router? If so, what kind of jig does it require?    [see answer]

Different Length Stair Stringers

I have a 21 inch plumb from my deck to the concrete below. My problem is that the concrete is not even, it slopes away from the house. I'd like to use two stringers (2x10) and then bracket two steps between them. How do I measure the dist    [see answer]

Glass Railing

What would be the best railing and baluster combination for a glass pane?    [see answer]

Handrail to Newel

I am installing a handrail on my landing and down the stairs. Your instructions given on how to do this includes everything I need except how to attach the handrail to the newel posts. Could you explain how to do that?    [see answer]

Hardwood Stairs

How new hardwood should be attached to an existing stair case.    [see answer]

How to Build Deck Stairs

I just built a new backyard wood deck, which turned out rather well. I am however having difficulty making up deck stairs. My total rise from the ground to the top of the deck board is 20.5 inches.    [see answer]

How to Install Stair Spindles

How to determine an equal size spacing between stair spindles.    [see answer]

Newel Posts

What is the recommended distance between newel posts for a balcony?    [see answer]

Open Riser

With an open riser stair, how do you connect the stair treads to the stair stringer?    [see answer]

Pine Stair Treads

Is pine okay for stair treads or is it too soft a wood?    [see answer]

Risers and Treads

When installing stair treads and risers some people are telling us the riser goes on top of the tread. We prefer the look of it behind the tread and thats what it looks like on your page. We just want to know the correct way of installin    [see answer]

Splicing Stringers

I need to make stair stringers for a 10' rise. This will work out to the stringer being 18 to 20 feet long. I can only find 16' 2 X 12's. Is it okay to splice them to make them long enough? if so HOW?    [see answer]

Stair Landing

Should I add a landing in the middle of a 10' rise or use stronger wood for the stringer?    [see answer]

Stair Repair

One stair in my basement stairs is shorter than the rest by about 1/4 inch. I'm thinking of two solutions, but wanted to see what you say first.    [see answer]

Stair Risers

What size nails or screws would you suggest using for nailing/screwing the stair risers if I'm using 1/2 inch plywood for the risers?    [see answer]

Stair Rises and Runs

I want to build some stairs and I want the total rise to be 2 1/2 feet high, the rise 6 inches and the run 12 inches. Can you give a diagram of what it will look like?    [see answer]

Stair Runs and Risers

Why our Stair Case Calculator always gives one less run than the number of risers.    [see answer]

Stair Skirt

I want to replace the stair skirt boards with oak to match the stairs. Treads and risers were cut and installed to match the old fir skirt boards, and oak is thicker dimension. Where do I start?    [see answer]

Stair Stringers

I've got a nice stair case but it needs support stringers. How do I cut the stringers?    [see answer]

Stair Tread Thickness

If I cut 16 runs at 7 1/2 inches each, wouldn't my very first step be 9 inches?    [see answer]

Stair Treads

I used 2x12 non-pressure treated boards for the treads. A couple of carpenters told me the treads should be ripped into two 5 3/4 inch treads to avoid splitting and cupping of the stairs in a couple of years. Any advice on this?    [see answer]

Stair Trim

I'm going to be installing yellow pine over the stairs inside my house. They are between two walls and I would like to put trim boards along the walls on both sides, down the stairs. How is this typically done?    [see answer]

Stair Width

What width should indoor stairs be? They will be going to a master bedroom upstairs. I was thinking about 42 inches. They will be a straight run.    [see answer]

Stair Winders

How do you build winder stairs to save space?    [see answer]

Stairs Repair

The level of the concrete in my basement floor is off about an inch between where the ends of the stair stringers will be. This means the stringer height will be different. How should I fit and trim these two stringers?    [see answer]

Story Height

What are the measurements of one story or the total rise of a one story staircase?    [see answer]

Stringer Board

Dave what's the standard size board for a stringer?    [see answer]

Stringer on Concrete

The inspector said I have to protect my outside stair stringers from the concrete on the outside landing. What does he mean?    [see answer]

Stringer on Pavement

How do I secure the bottom of the stringer to the paving slab?    [see answer]

Stringer to Joist

What is the best way to attach the stair stringers to the floor joist?    [see answer]

Tile on Riser

I want to replace my existing painted wood risers with slate or some durable tile. Is this possible and if so, how do I remove them to replace them or should I tile right over the existing riser?    [see answer]

Tread Thickness

Does the thickness of the stair tread change the total rise?    [see answer]

Veneering Stair Trim

I need to put new treads and risers on my indoor entry stairs. How do I remove the existing skirt boards? Or do I just veneer the old ones?    [see answer]

Wood on Cement

The bottoms of my stringers are resting directly on cement. How can I maintain some sort of dry spacing so they don't rot out like the old ones did?    [see answer]


(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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