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All About Deck Steps

People put a lot of time and attention into deck design. They carefully choose a durable low maintenance material, ponder colour choices, decide upon an interesting plank pattern and pick a stunning railing system. Why not extend the same discerning treatment to ensure your deck steps have style, safety and durability. Your steps can accentuate your home’s best qualities and align with the overall landscaping theme.

Safety: Deck steps should be carefully planned so that all the stair rises (the vertical height of the steps) and all the tread depths (the horizontal length of the steps) are equal. If the bottom or top step is noticeably different in height or length from the other stairs, it becomes a tripping hazard. Consult your local building codes to get the details and formulas needed to construct safe steps.

Material: The best choice of material for deck steps depends on the design of the stairs, the surroundings, and your preferences. Most people construct their steps from the same material as the deck itself.

Style: There are many styles of stairs to choose from.


  • Open stringer steps are breathable, efficient, cost effective and look best on a deck that is not skirted.
  • Box steps are a series of boxes stacked on top of each other to create a short run of stairs. These steps are easy to build, sturdy, and good for stairs with up to three steps. They’re popular for very low decks and transitions between the levels of tiered decks.
  • Cascading steps are designed to flare out and increase in size towards the bottom. They’re shallow and broad making it look as if the deck is flowing toward the ground, seamlessly blending a deck into the surrounding yard.  Attractive and extremely functional, but not recommended if the drop requires more than five steps as they can become a tripping hazard.
  • Wrap around steps traverse a corner of the deck, add depth and eliminate the need for a hand rail. They act as extra seating and often become the focal point of the yard.


  • Spiral stairs minimize the footprint of your design allowing you to save space for other projects. They add elegance to your deck. Use this style to connect a two story deck with a lower patio. Remember that navigating a spiral stairs is more difficult, two people cannot navigate side by side and moving large or heavy items on these stairs may not be possible.
  • Floating steps: hover above the ground as if bobbing on the surface of a lake and give your deck a sophisticated look. They’re created by attaching treads to a wall or staircase stringer on one side, with the other side unsupported. Lacking handrails, they’re unsafe for young children and people with poor vision or coordination. Stabilizing floating stairs can involve extra expense.
  • Traditional Steps: A second-story deck often looks like the inside of a home has been placed on the outside. Consider creating a cohesive look by using a traditional staircase design that mimics the stairs inside your home.
  • Platform steps: offer less height (rise) per step and are much deeper than standard steps. Besides being visually interesting, this style allows young children to balance before taking the next step and makes room for the use of a walker making the steps friendly to the aged or visually impaired.
  • Stairs with landings: If you have a second story deck, use a landing to break up the long stairs making it easier and safer to traverse. Consider using the landing to change the direction of the stair run providing an interesting visual impact and using less space.

Should you build the stairs yourself or hire a deck contractor?

Building steps is considered the most difficult part of a deck construction project. One mistake in calculations or layout and you’ll waste expensive material or end up with a dangerous set of steps. It’s impossible to find a definitive plan for site-built stairs as the number and height of the steps will vary with the landscape and the height of the deck. There are a number of local building codes and regulations that you’ll need to become familiar with. You’ll also need some specialized tools. If you’re up for the complexity of the project, go ahead! If it all sounds like too much, find an experienced deck contractor.

Whether your deck is low-to-the-ground or raised-up-high, your stairs can have an impact on traffic flow and aesthetics. No matter what style of steps you choose to build, make sure they meet the local codes so that they are safe for your family and friends to traverse.

For all your stair needs and questions, choose the Calgary based deck experts, Econo Decks. From simple upgrades to complete renovation to new builds, Econo Decks is committed to providing the best quality work for their customers. Call Econo Decks at 403-768-0151 or email us at or