External Wooden Stairs

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Posted by: from Delta
8/7/2012 at 3:38:10 PM

I am needing to replace our back wooden stairs, 11 steps from the house deck to sidewalk.

I need to know what a reasonable cost would be to replace them?

Also, what are the code requirements for the railings (do they require spindles, or just a guard rail in the center?)

Please pardon me if the terminology is not correct.

Thank you.

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Date/Time8/7/2012 at 5:30:31 PM

Hi there,

The code requirements wouldn't allow a rail in the center for the simple fact that it would make the railing easier to climb over. The idea is that a baby's head could not fit through the railing and get stuck and also the bottom rail would have to be a certain distance from the top rail so it would be hard for children to bridge the gap between the two.

As far as the pricing goes the labour for a set of stairs is typically $300/day of labour but becuse your stairs are quite a bit larger you may be looking at more then that. Materials would all depend on what you want your railing to look like but you could be in the range of $300 to $500 depending on the materials you use.

I hope that helps,


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Mark from Arbutus Sundecks in Richmond
Date/Time8/8/2012 at 10:05:25 AM

For a set of semi housed stairs (that's when the fascia board is attached to the outside of the stringer) it is typically $100 per tread.

For aluminum picket railings is around $ 45 per foot.

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Date/Time8/8/2012 at 11:58:59 PM

Hi Robert,

As far as costs go, it would be best to post your project and speak with a contractor in your area.

As far as code requirements and comfort you will want to have your risers (the height between the top of one tread and the top of the next) to be close to 7 1/2", it can not be greater than 7 7/8" and the variation in height cannot be greater than 1/8".

For railings, you require one if the difference between door or deck height and the ground is 2' or greater. In the case of your 11 steps, that is a given.

A railing must not allow a 4" sphere to pass through at any point. If using pickets (balusters) it simply means that they cannot be more than 3 15/16" apart. As mentioned in a previous reply, you cannot use horizontal elements or pieces which could permit climbing. A railing MUST also be able to withstand 200 pounds of lateral force. This means that if attached to the stringers, they must have continuous blocking all the way across at the attachment point. It also means that nails will not cut it. The posts must be through bolted and braced.

As for cost comparisons, pressure treated wood balusters would be on the low end of costs with metal or glass at the high end.

One last note. The stairs must be anchored into the ground and should land on a level concrete surface or posts. The stairs can then be attached to the concrete pad with expansion bolts made for that purpose.

Best of luck with your project.

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