What Are the Best Tips for Making DIY Staircases?

Dan Cavallari

Like most construction projects, building DIY staircases will require quite a bit of planning before the builder picks up the first tool. First and foremost, the locations of the DIY staircases will need to be determined and carefully measured. Then, the builder will need to determine the style and structure of the staircase; some staircases, for example, go from one level to another in a straight line, while others turn corners. Still others may be spiral staircases, which can save space but can also be more difficult to build.

A spiral staircase.
A spiral staircase.

The most important step in installation of DIY staircases is determining the rise and run. This basically means figuring out how high the staircase will rise for each step forward. To make this determination,a rise and run calculator should be consulted. These calculators can be found easily online, or a general contractor can be consulted.

Using wood to make a staircase is a good option.
Using wood to make a staircase is a good option.

Stringers are the wooden runners that will span the length from the floor to the upper level. Cutting these carefully and accurately is very important, and a circular saw should be used whenever possible. A carpenter's square can be used to mark the proper angles, and the circular saw will make the cuts straight and the work quick. The builder should have an assistant work with him when raising the stringers to avoid accidents. The stringers can be nailed to the upper beams with nails or screws; galvanized hardware is best when building DIY staircases, as such hardware will be resistant to rust and corrosion that can weaken the overall structure.

When installing the stair treads, it is important to cut them to the appropriate length beforehand. For most DIY staircases, the treads should overhang the stringers by a few inches for optimal strength. Nails or screws can be used to attach the treads; screws are preferable because they will not work loose over time like nails are prone to do.

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