The house faces the sun and rain in a constant state. During the hot summer season, the heat from the sun becomes the cause of wreaks havoc paint and caulk. Any manmade structure can be in the biggest long term danger if it’ll face the rainwater. Houses also get in danger with the extreme wind and cold temperature. Some parts of the house may not be constructed of wood as if the house has exterior veneer comprised of stone, vinyl or bricks. But the other part of the house will still be constructed of wood.
The porch floor is mostly constructed of wood. Many porch floors in the older houses were used to be made from tongue-and-groove lumber. It is well known that water can cause devastating and dangerous effects on the porch made of wood that’s why the older homes were constructed in a way that the porch floor was gently sloped from the house to the outside edge of the porch. All of this was done to save the porch from the rainwater. By doing this, the rainwater does not get accumulated in puddles to rot the flooring and run off the porch.
Older homes were also painted with lead-based paint. But nowadays lead-based paints are not used due to environmental and health concerns. Lead-based paint was very durable. Our grandparents would paint their houses every twenty to thirty years. But now the houses are repainted every 10 to 15 years by our generation.
The most unprotected part of the porch is stairs because they are exposed to elements such as intense sunlight, frost heave, rain, and snow. Due to the lack of maintenance, poor choice of materials and bad craftsmanship stairs are limited. Stairs usually don’t stay long enough as compared to the rest of the porch. But now, with new stairs, that simply utilitarian or attractively dressed with trim stays long. To make them stay longer, a quality material should be used. The design should account for the weather.
The following steps can help you to rebuild porch stairs that can stay for a long time.
Firstly you should buy and assemble the materials. You should construct the 2x12 stringers and 2x4 frame with double kiln-dried, pressure-treated lumber rated for 40 PCF ground contact to make them stay longer and more reliable. Instead of visiting a home store you should find this material in the top-notch lumber supplier.
For the steps, you can choose 5/4 vertical-grain Douglas fir, and clear cedar or a cellular PVC product such as AZEK for the trim, which should include the risers and cove mold. A tube of construction, adhesive, and hot-dipped galvanized nails would also be needed. Tools that include handsaw, tape measure, a circular saw, and miter saw would be needed. It will make the project easier if you have a waist level worktable.
After the above step, you have to take measurements of the existing stairs. You should measure the rise, run, and width of the stairs. For having proper stringer layout, the thickness of tread stock and porch decking should be considered. The width of fir tread stock that is available at most lumberyards is usually 11" for the run of porch steps and a 9" run is code minimum.
You can go as far as 1¼" if you’re using a cove molding and need more overhang otherwise a 1" lip overhanging the riser is typical. Treads can overhang the end stringers according to your preference. But if the lip overhang is matched it gives a nice balance. You should check your measurements again to avoid a tripping hazard and to meet code requirements it’s essential.
This is the time to construct the frame and cut stringers. The width of the stair and thickness of the treads decides the number of stringers. There would be need of 24" centers, or three stringers for 48"-wide 5/4 Douglas fir treads. If 3/4 treads are used then it is not recommended for durable stairs, in that case, you’ll need four stringers on 16" centers for the same span.
The layout of the stringer rise and run cut should get by using the guide on your framing square, which is allowed for a 1⁄8" to ¼" pitch to the front for water drainage. The cut should be finished with a handsaw if you are cutting with a circular saw. This will help make sure that you won’t over-cut your guidelines. Using a miter saw 2x4 frame parts can be cut precisely.
You should build the frame by using hot-dipped galvanized nails and construction adhesive. But you have to make sure that with each portion, the unit remains square. For providing support a triangle under each stringer can be constructed and 2x4s should be used to hold the stringers together. To keep the frame strong from side to side, diagonal 2x4s can be added.
Feet and shims should be included in the final assembly because they are necessary to create level placement on a pad or surface that is not leveled.
When the frame is ready, now it’ time to fix the risers, trim and treads. All surfaces should be backing primed including the joints before attaching the wood trim. If instead of using wood trim you are using AZEK or pre-primed finger-jointed cedar trim, this step can be skipped.
If you want your stairs to be more weather resistant then you can apply two coats of floor and deck enamel on the new stairs by using a thinned coat of paint for primer. In the last coat of paint that would be applied to the treads, you can add non-skid aggregate for safety in areas prone to icing.
The Bottom Line
The most unprotected part of the porch, the stairs, needs your attention and focus. The above-mentioned steps can make things great if followed. This is the right time to think about your porch stairs and rebuild them to make your home look pretty and awesome. Always use optimum quality material to avoid any mishap in the future even after rebuilding your porch stairs.