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Outdoor wooden staircase

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DigitalM

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My brother-in-law has asked me to help him make a new outdoor staircase to the room above his carport. It's right next to my workshop, which is in an outbuilding that he lets me use free-of-charge so I want to do the best job I possibly can. The old staircase (no idea of age, it was there when he bought the house) has deteriorated fairly rapidly. It seems to be just some general tanalised timber.

Given how fast the rot set in on the current one, I'd be grateful for opinions on timber choice as the staircase is basically attached to the (timber-clad) carport on one side, with hedges behind and to one side within a few metres, so quite a damp corner!

I've done some basic research and was considering iroko, but haven't worked out what it would cost yet (I'm thinking that B-I-L can probably stretch to some decent hardwood considering we'd be taking out the labour by doing it ourselves.)

We're probably going for zig-zag step cut strings reinforced with full uncut strings on the outsides (two outer strings and a center support), treads but no risers.

Thanks for reading this far if you're still with me!
 

Myfordman

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Iroko has done me well with various garden projects. With steps they could get quite slippy irrespective of the wood type. I would not suggest routing grooves (like deck boarding) as these easily fill up with carp and harbour water but instead fix on fine mesh galvanised chicken wire onto the treads with stainless staples.
 

That would work

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Iroko will last forever. I second the use of wire mesh, way back in the boatyard we used it as non slip on the sloping walkways of Lymington marina.
 

MikeG.

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There are proprietary non-slip inserts for decking and for steps. It's only a question of routing some grooves and setting them in. Chicken wire is a very distant second-best option.
 

AndyT

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MikeG.":3b1zq1a6 said:
There are proprietary non-slip inserts for decking and for steps. It's only a question of routing some grooves and setting them in. Chicken wire is a very distant second-best option.
Yes, and a good source is https://www.safetread.co.uk
 

AJB Temple

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A thought. A cost effective solution (that I have used) is to get good quality green oak railway sleepers and have them cut to half thickness (do it yourself if you have a suitable bandsaw. An 8 ft sleeper will yield 4 steps. These will last a very long time (more than your lifetime) and the oak supporting posts will too.

I happened to have a lot of such sleepers that had been stored outsider (racked) for a couple of years but already split (I intended to make a bridge, changed the design and had far too much) and so they were pretty dry by the time I did the job.

I agree with Mike: I am not a big fan of chicken wire as it gets ragged quite quickly and traps dirt. I have never bought the commercial insets, but I did a similar thing as I had some 3/4" brass bar and routed slots into the oak (actually it was a table saw but could have routed) and leaving about an 1/8" proud and this acted as a DIY non-slip device - I bar for each step. Can't recall if I epoxied them in - I think they were just hammered.

I have used thick oak for building bridges and walkways over our ponds and small canal, and I find it does not really get slippery as long as it is jet washed once a year.
 

Bm101

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I know it's not what you asked for (and I wouldn't use it either if I could use wood, we all love wood right? It's a woodwork site.
But it does have some advantages. It's worth considering at least. If it's just for a set of steps in a damp corner maybe cost can be outweighed against upkeep. Who knows. They won't get slippy or if so,won't mind a blast with the jet washer every couple of years.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composite_lumber
 

Terry - Somerset

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You could always consider aluminium chequer plate screwed on to the wooden step - if you can't bend it over the front of the tread you can buy sheets ready bent!
 

sunnybob

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I used to work a lot outside, checker plate is not a good surface if there is ice about. :roll:
 

Kev

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It was a few years ago but in our old house I built a large decking with stairs down to the garden and used Balau for that (think its actually Yellow Balau). Found this to be great against the weather, not sure how it matches up against Iroko in terms of cost but would have thought it would be slightly cheaper.

Second the proprietary grips that you insert into treads as all woods get ridiculously slippery out in the weather. Mesh works well but doesn't look great in my opinion.

Good luck!
 

Nigel Burden

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Re - chicken wire or metal mesh.

My experience as a walker is that both tend to be a bit slippery when wet and nto good when icy. The non slip inserts are much better.

Nigel.
 
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