Build outdoor and garden stairs yourself

Small or even larger differences in height must be overcome somewhere on almost every property, whether in the garden or around the house. This is an ideal field of activity for the do-it-yourselfer, because many staircases can be created and built by oneself. When it comes to building staircases, there is a wide range of possibilities, and DIY enthusiasts can give free rein to their creativity.

Different types of construction for an outdoor staircase

There is a whole range of different construction methods for a staircase. It doesn’t always have to be a solid concrete staircase. Depending on the circumstances, ground conditions and height difference, there are often several options to consider. The cost, the amount of work and, last but not least, the appearance also play an important role in the decision, of course. Usually the staircase should fit into the existing environment and not stand out as a foreign body.
Was in the garden already very much with concrete stones, concrete prefabricated elements like z.B. concrete paving stones or palisades, it also makes sense to build the stairs from concrete elements (e.g. concrete block steps).B. concrete block steps). Very often, therefore, stairs are built in the garden with finished concrete block steps. The advantage is quick assembly, as such staircases can often be erected dry. Often a concrete foundation is made only for the lowest step, the rest is filled with crushed stone or lean concrete. The disadvantage of such stairs, however, is the enormous weight of the finished block steps, here often many hundreds of kg must be moved, much muscle power is therefore required. In addition, these stairs do not fit into every garden, they often look a little sterile.

Especially in a natural garden or a garden, which is designed in the country style a little more romantic and thus serves the deceleration and relaxation or simply something more in harmony with nature should act, are often other solutions without concrete more appealing.

The most important and known methods of building stairs

  • Knuppeltreppen (usually made of wood and crushed stone)
  • Stairs made of block steps (quickly built with prefabricated concrete elements)
  • Staircases made of steps (e.g.B. made of concrete or natural stone slabs)
  • Stairs with steps (are often paved stairs)

The different materials used in the construction of external stairs

  • Concrete
  • Granite
  • Sandstone
  • Limestone
  • Slate
  • Basalt
  • Porphyry
  • Quartzite
  • Wood (especially larch, Douglas fir, oak or Bangkirai, Massaranduba and Cumaru)

Knuppeltreppen – The quick and easy solution

Behind the somewhat unusual name "billet staircase" is a type of staircase that probably everyone has seen but probably not so consciously perceived. This type of staircase is often used on hiking trails and forest paths. But also in many natural gardens a staircase looks very nice, because it fits well into the environment.

billets stairs

Construction of a staircase

The billet staircase is the simplest staircase construction method, therefore it is also particularly suitable for do-it-yourselfers. It is not necessarily suitable for stairs that are very heavily frequented, since the durability is limited by the use of wooden planks as steps. This type of staircase has been given the name "stoop stairs" because the standing wooden planks are practically stabilized and held by wooden stakes. Often today instead of the wooden piles are used iron (z.B. Paving nails, ground nails, cord irons*) hammered deep into the ground to hold the planks in place. The actual tread consists of filled gravel, chippings or even bark mulch with the Knuppeltreppe. durable wood species such as Douglas fir, oak or larch should be used if possible. Since the wood is in contact with the ground, it will eventually begin to rot, but such a staircase can last for many years.


Construction of a simple billet staircase

For the construction of a staircase, the topsoil is first removed and a slope is created in the intended place. Then you drive at intervals cut stakes (these are the billets) into the ground. The spacing at which this is done depends largely on the degree of slope and the desired depth of the steps. The practitioner who wants to save long calculations can also build a boundary to the left and right of the staircase first, using palisades, curbs or wooden planks. The latter has the advantage that you can better orientate yourself when setting the irons and planks at the edges.

Against these posts are then placed crosswise boards or. Planks laid. By the way, you can also experiment here with alternatives, such as a concrete block. For example, a tinkerer has already used small curbs, which were shaped as concrete palisades, for this purpose (see picture below). This can be an interesting option for very small staircases that are rarely used. It is a compromise of a traditional staircase with modern durable prefabricated concrete elements. This type of staircase is just as quick to build, but should last much longer. In addition, the palisade form of the concrete element has the advantage that the staircase still fits well into the natural garden. These stones cannot move sideways, because the posts fit very well into the grooves of the stones.

The space in between is filled with gravel, chippings or even earth. Recommended is especially fine (ca. 8-20mm) gravel, as these stones interlock very well due to their hard edges and thus a high load capacity is possible. It is not for nothing that the sleepers of the railroad tracks are also on ballast!

These stairs are effective mainly because of their simplicity and naturalness. It is therefore not bad if one or the other step is not quite in balance. With the time the frost will provide anyway for the fact that one or the other something becomes crooked. But this is what makes the beautiful look of this type of staircase!

Modified billet staircase in self-construction

For the construction of a club staircase with concrete elements you need first of all the material. For each step you need a wooden plank or as here concrete curbstone and two posts. Depending on the condition of the ground, a post should be ca. 60-80 cm long, so that it holds well in the ground. You can also order 1,20m cord nails (z.B. Ebay or Amazon) and then cut through with a saw or a grinder. For the provisional edge fastening we sawed here still some impregnated roof laths pointedly. These should later also be replaced by nails or nails. can be added to achieve a longer durability.


Material purchase


String nails as posts


Make a suitable length


wooden boards for edge


First you should remove the topsoil as completely as possible. If this is not completely possible due to heavily rooted soil, you can also create a border using a plank or stronger board. You could later add soil from the outside to sink the stairs into the slope.

Concrete first step

string nails as posts

In our example, the first step is made of concrete, so that the stairs are durable. The other steps are mainly held by the nails and the basalt gravel (8-16mm). The individual concrete elements should always be aligned with the spirit level, you will become crooked alone, so you should first set them straight.


Fill with gravel


Also decorative gravel goes


The natural staircase is ready

At the end you should fill all the steps up to the edge with gravel, only then you can reasonably go up the stairs. A simple railing should not be missing for such narrow and steep stairs, even if they are not often used. The railing simply gives you more security. For the fastening of the railing posts you can get hammering sleeves in the trade, these facilitate the hammering in and increase the durability, the purchase thus pays off. You can also use decorative stones from the hardware store as ballast for smaller stairs. When buying, however, you should make sure that you do not use gravel but sharp-edged stones, only these hook well into each other.

Impact sleeves for railing posts

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block step house entrance

Stairs from block steps

Block steps are massive steps made of concrete or natural stones. The step heights are often standardized and are approx. 14 cm. The lowest step is usually placed in a frost-proof concrete foundation, since the highest load is placed on it. The further steps lie then either likewise in concrete or also in grit or ballast.
Ready-made block steps are available today almost in every major hardware store, with widths often ranging from 60 to 140 cm. However, you should consider the high weight of each individual step, for the construction you should have at least a strong helper ready.


Video shows the construction of a staircase with block steps

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Stairs from laying steps

If the steps are built primarily from slabs, they are called lay steps. For steps, slabs of concrete or natural stone are usually used for the treads. Since the plates are much lighter and thinner than solid block steps, a solid concrete foundation is needed as a substructure. For larger staircases, the concrete must also be reinforced with steel so that it can withstand all tensile forces. The structure of such a staircase is significantly higher than a concrete staircase made of block steps. Those who have not yet gained sufficient experience in the construction of foundations, it is better to leave this type of stairs to the professional.


Stairs with steps


The staircase with adjustable treads is somewhat reminiscent of the billet staircase described above. They are also comparable, but much more solid. The setting edges (what the boards were in the billet stairs) here are usually made of solid concrete or natural stone. These are also not held by posts but these are laid directly in lean concrete. The build-up therefore requires precise work, since inaccuracies can no longer be compensated after curing.

For the actual step here usually not loose material such as gravel, but paving stones or slabs are used. These in turn are laid either in crushed sand or chippings.

Steel stairs

An alternative to concrete and stone stairs can also be steel stairs. These fit less in a natural garden, but make themselves well to a new building with perhaps granite or concrete elements were used for the organization. To build steel stairs completely by oneself is already a task for the professional do-it-yourselfer with welding skills. It is better here if you rely on prefabricated solutions, such are even already available in online stores:

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The right step height

In the case of the billet staircase, you can still get a pretty good idea of the step height from the rim. Usually this is also used where the degree of inclination varies times, so here exact calculation in advance sometimes difficult.
For other types of stairs, which require foundations, however, you should first make a few thoughts and sketches for the stairs. A stair formula can be used to calculate the correct step height and tread width:

The stair formula

(step height x 2) + tread = mind. 63, max. 65 cm

Underlying this formula is the human physique and adult step size. This measurement is usually between 63 and 65 centimeters. For this reason, steps with a height of between 15 and 18 centimeters are perceived as particularly comfortable. The ideal appearance is at approx. 27 cm

Of course, you can deviate from these ideal dimensions in your own garden. In particular if stairs only little are to be walked on, then one can do already times something without comfort around steps to save or the stairs to existing material adapt.

Creative ideas and inspiration

Since time immemorial stairs have been built, somehow they seem to exert a special fascination on people. If you look in the picture archives, you will see that stairs are also always a very desirable photo subject. Here are some photos and a video of interesting and inspiring stairs. Maybe the one or other do-it-yourselfer will find here a staircase as an inspiration for their own garden.

DIY staircase construction: video for inspiration


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