stairs all around

oldalgebraAugust 8, 2009

I am building a floating 14 by 20 cedar deck and wish to have stairs all around two sides (the other two are bordered by a fence and a garage.

The ground in front of the 20 foot side is fairly level, however the ground slopes down 6 or 7 inches (away from the garage) on the 14 foot side.

I have tried to look at various internet videos concerning deck stairs, but am unable to decide just how or what to secure the stringers to at ground level before proceeding with the risers and treads.

I am hoping to avoid pouring a long slab all around the deck.

Will precast cement pads work?

Should I use 4 by 4 pt posts sunk in concrete as one video suggested?

I am planning on cutting all the stringers the same, then start by attaching the first stringer at the highest point of the deck (next to the fence), and then attach each successive stringer, cutting off the bottom of each stringer as I move around the corner and get closer and closer to the garage.

My construction skills are VERY limited.

If you have pictures of stair construction that mimic my problem or can help me out in any way, I'd certainly appreciate it.


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I am not understanding how a deck can float.

Do Not cut down the stringers after the first one is in.

Do Not plant 4x4s in the ground as a structure for a stairway.

Do not try to build a staircase of Any kind with limited construstion skills.

Do hire a Contractor.

Do look at the Big Garapa Deck post and drift on down to the stairway. Look again. Keep looking........You want your staircase to look like that. J.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:12PM
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If one types "floating deck" into the search box of this forum, a number of links are provided. Even more information can be found by using goggle.
My skills are limited, but I am a careful worker and a fast learner.
Weedyacres deck is, indeed, beautiful. I read her post with much interest and am enjoying the step-by-step pictures she is posting. What a great job she (he?) is doing. I am impressed with the sound structure of her steps. Still, this does not address my problem.

If there is anyone out there who can make some positive suggestions that might point me in the right direction, I would certainly be most appreciative.

Thanks in advance for helping out a weekend DIYer.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 1:00AM
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Ok if no one else is going to do this....

A deck does not float,no matter what you read, a deck is secured to a foundation to keep it from floating.

The Weed's staircase is fastened to a slab that is way overkill,of course they wanted it that way, but you will need something like it that being a leval platform for the stairbucks to land on.

If you dont want to place a slab it would be possible to use precast creet blocks dug in with a pt plate spaning them say a 6x6 you could span 8' with that and a little more. But the plate or beam has got to be Leval and the same distance all along from your deck frame.

In your case one end would be grade leval and the other end would be above grade leval with a post making up the differance. This would make the last step on the other end 6/7'' higher than the beginig step that you will make up for with steping stones or just dirt.

Cuting Stairbucks 101....For outside least a 12'' tread no more than a 7 1/2'' riser. Go figure out how high your deck is at the high ground keep deviding that until you come up with something close to 7 1/2''. Say its 3 your stairs will be 3' from the deck using 12'' treads if you want the first tread leval with your deck.

Install your landing platform 3' from the deck on center this will give you a little wiggle room. Take final measurments for the exact riser cut after the leval platform,landing, foundation or what ever you want to call it is secured. Thats secured not floating. There is no Floating in Deck Building or Stair Building and no crying in BaseBall.

Things for you to buy>>>>> skill saw,framing square, stair/rafter clips for the square,a shovel, makita 18 v impact driver,ss screws,tap cons,all needed bits, four ft leval,all the pt lumber and all the blocks or creet.Ghessssssssss the things I do for you Kids. J.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 12:39PM
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Thank you so much for taking the time to describe what I must do.
I have all the tools you listed except for the impact driver and will rent one if I cannot borrow one.

Again, thanks for your time and expertise.

P.S. This kid is 61.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 2:12PM
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Do Not plant 4x4s in the ground as a structure for a stairway.

John - Would you mind elaborating?

The American Forest & Paper Assoc's guide that I am using, which is supposedly based on 2006 IRC, says, "All footings shall bear on solid ground and shall be placed 12 inches below the undisturbed ground surface or below the frost line, whichever is deeper. Stringers shall not bear on new or existing concrete pads or patios that are not founded below this depth."

This would tell me that weedyacres' pads look good, not overkill.

They go on to show a 4x4 sunk into the concrete that is either 12" round or 10" square, 6" minimum concrete depth, and then apparently filled in with dirt.

This has me thinking that my plan of burying posts in concrete up to grade is fine. So is your objection based on that fact that you think new pressure treated is crap, or is there more to it?

Incidentally I just got back from Town Hall where I talked to a building inspector who told me to do whatever I want, including just having the stairs rest on the bare ground. That really surprised me.

Like the OP, I would just prefer to avoid the slab. Thanks in advance.

Here is a link that might be useful: see page 19

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 4:24PM
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Well ol son...I think you should do just what the building inspector told you to do. J.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:23PM
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So what does it take to get into the club that gets a serious response from you? Seriously, if I didn't have respect for you based on all the great advice you give I'd call you out for being the tool that you are.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:27PM
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O Man you must have ment Fool, just a little typo deal I gotcha.

Actually I probley am a fool,just a lowley Carpenter trying to eakk out an honest living in a dishonest world,a few simple tools,no education, Harley riden fool. Yup thats me.

So you wanting to get into my like club is a little perplexing you being so good at page nine and all.

But thats the nature of the web,,,folks like you sometimes.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 7:35PM
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So you don't like people who don't do their research before asking a question - how many times have you told people to google something rather than ask a question. And you don't like people who do their research.

I told you what I'm reading is code, I told you what my town's inspector said. All I'm asking for was what you recommend and why. Simple enough, no?

Sorry I called you a tool, and yes I meant tool with a T, but I just don't get why you would spend so much time on a site that seems to be 99% amateurs and 1% professionals if us amateurs are too lowly to deserve a response from you.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 7:58PM
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yathink: My interpretation of the AF&PA's interpretation of the code is as follows:

You need to have a concrete footer supporting the stairs. This can either be a slab with footers or concrete in a hole with a post on top (like you frame the deck proper) or concrete in a hole with a post embedded in it. AF&PA says embedding a post is ok, your inspector says it's ok. What was overkill about our slabs is that they're a lot bigger than what's needed just to support a flight of stairs.

John and others, myself included, figure that if sinking a post into the ground is no longer acceptable for the deck proper it's probably a good idea not to sink them into the ground for any structural support. PT lumber, even that treated for ground contact, will last a long time, but if it's sunk into dirt or concrete it'll have more exposure to water, so won't last as long as if it's sitting on top of the concrete. We'd rather build it to avoid rework in the future, even if that future is many years off.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 8:10PM
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Thanks a lot Weedy - exactly the answer I was looking for.

Point of reference, I'm replacing a deck on a home that I'm anticipating selling in a year. I don't want to go nuts but I don't want to look like I'm cutting corners. And while I'm banking on the old deck's CO covering everything, I've decided that 6x6's, concrete footings, hurricane straps, etc. might not be a bad idea just in case. Yes, my previous "approved" deck stood seemingly strong after I'm guessing 30 years. Some of the 20" deep posts were "supported" by an 8" deep square of concrete at grade, others were simply stuck in the ground. A sharp kick snapped all but a few posts. LOL!

By the way, "beautiful deck." I've enjoyed your progress report.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 9:19PM
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