Replacing the driveway at our old house/rental house was a weight off my shoulders. When we were allowed to drive on it, we did the honors in a vehicle filled to the brim with pressure-treated wood.
As it would seem, the work never ends. We were left with the pleasure of replacing the stairs that led to the front door.
It should have been really easy to replace the stairs. Right? Just get some new joist hangers and nail them into place. But since many layers of old cement and asphalt were removed with the excavation, the driveway lowered 6-8″. The best plan was to rebuild the stairs from scratch. It was a little blessing in disguise, actually, as we were able to upgrade the handrails.
It’s not that the DIY railings and front stairs built a few years ago were of terrible quality. (They did pass inspection.) But, they had loosened up a lot over the last year. Tenants are rough. We knew we could make them sturdier with a few simple design upgrades.
This post isn’t intended so much to be a tutorial. We used online resources to adapt what we already knew. We cut the stringers ourselves and used simple store-bought balusters. Thank you, Internet.
We didn’t need to alter the number of risers–three would still do–but we did have to calculate a new rise and run.
Two 2×12 boards formed our custom stringers, which cost approximately $32 as opposed to the precut variety sold at our local big box for $8.50/each for a 3-step unit ($25). Customization was necessary in this case. Plus, cutting stringers just seems like one of those things that we should know how to do. Read this tutorial to learn how. Be sure to clamp the square to a scrap board for consistency from step to step.
It was the first time I used power tools since learning I was pregnant. We missed each other, clearly. And as they say, the baby’s hearing stuff in there and already getting accustomed to noises in the outside world, so getting it used to power tools should work in our favor.
Getting back into the woodworking projects felt really good. There was much that I could do to help keep the project moving while Pete still performed the heavy-duty lifting that came with the project. I measured boards, helped with drilling using the lighter, cordless machinery, prepped tools, and cleared scraps.
We did a few things differently this time around. Since we used 2×12″ boards, we used extra 2×12″ lumber as a ledger on which to attach the stairs to the structure.
We used 5/4 deck boards doubled up to make 11″ steps. They’re deeper than what we had used on the previous design. Bonus: they match the top landing.
We also reinforced the 4×4 posts. Instead of using galvanized cups, we wrapped each post over the joist by notching it with the chop saw and a wood chisel. Bolted securely, they will not move. Big difference.
We strayed from the previously horizontal baluster design and opted for traditional 2×2 balusters. I was always opposed to this design, but it does actually look great, and less like we’re forcing modernism on a traditional home.
The completed unit fits the bill. We’re letting the pressure-treated wood dry out before we weatherproof it this fall. Eventually–hopefully sooner than later–the stairs and rails should weather nicely to match the darker brown landing.