Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Replace Outdoor Stairs

Outdoor stairs are bound to require maintenance, especially if you live in a wet climate where there is a definite change of seasons that includes winter. Maybe repairs will be few and far between and only involve a small amount of effort. But understanding how stairs get repaired can help you in the process of designing the next set that you build. Following are some insights that will help in your task of replacing outdoor stairs. Does this Spark an idea?


1. Remove the defective treads with a pry bar and/or a 4-foot crowbar. Pull the nails out first with a cat's paw, and then use the long crowbar. Take your time so that you don't damage the existing stairs. If the tread is screwed in through the side of the stringer, then those screws have to be backed out with an electric screw gun.

2. Place the tread on a set of sawhorses and measure all dimensions. Select a piece of lumber that matches the size of the old tread, or at least select a board that can be made to match with a few simple cuts. The thickness of the tread should be matched when you buy the wood at your local lumberyard, but width and length can be cut on a pair of sawhorses with a circular saw.

3. Examine the remaining stairs before the missing piece is put back into place. You might find more pieces that need replacing. If the stringers are bad, the whole set of stairs will have to come apart, but a riser can be replaced in the same manner as replacing the tread.

4. Make sure the anchoring system or wooden pieces that support the tread are in good condition. If they are metal, check each one for rust. If they are wooden you might want to replace them with metal brackets that fit underneath or make replacement wood pieces, just as a precaution.

5. Paint the new piece with paint, sealer or creosote. If the piece is pressure-treated, then this step will not be necessary.

6. Install the new piece with long, galvanized builder's screws (1 1/4 to 2 inches). Use a drill to put in a pilot hole. Make sure the head of the screw is flush with the surface of the board.

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