Building new porch stairs with painted treads. Old House Remodeling:

Installing Porch Or Deck
Stair Treads, Risers And Skirting

In This Article:

Skirting is installed to enclose the space below the stairs, riser boards are screwed to the face of the stair stringers, and deck boards are cut and installed for stair treads.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic to Moderate) Time Taken: 3 Hours

By , Editor

Stringers or support structure for deck or porch stairs. With the four stringers in place I installed skirt boards (red arrows) to close off the space below the steps. I wanted to prevent animals (including the resident dogs) from making a home there.

I used 5/4x6 treated deck boards (mostly scraps and off-cuts) for the skirting, and attached them with deck screws.


I primed some of the skirt boards before installing them, and I also laid down a plastic sheet over the soil, to deter moisture from getting into the wood. Skirting below stair stringers.

Even though this is pressure-treated lumber, it can still rot. After years of exposure to the elements, the preservative can be washed away. My intention is to make this house last as long as possible, and any minor precautions like this are worth doing.

The skirt boards were simply screwed to the inside of the stair stringers.


Beneath the porch, I screwed the skirt boards to the framing. I then tacked some 1x2's to the skirt boards (using a pneumatic brad nailer) to keep them together.


I fastened a pair of 1x4 pressure-treated pine boards to each riser face. I had to use clamps to hold the boards straight, as the wood was rather warped.


Although there were 4 risers in total, only 2 risers needed the 1x4 boards.

After this point I painted the exposed wood with oil-based primer and latex exterior paint.

Stair riser boards installed on stringers.


I installed the stair treads with 2" deck screws. The treads are 5/4x6 deck boards, which are 5" wide. 

The pre-cut stringers have a tread dimension of 11 inches, so two deck boards (or 2x6's) fit exactly. But this leaves no tread overhang, or nosing, which is normal on stairs with enclosed risers. Without the nosing, people tend to stub their feet on the riser, and possibly trip.

To create the proper 1-inch overhang, I had to rip a 1 inch wide piece of deck board , rout a small radius on the cut edge (to match the radius of the other pieces) and install it between the two full-width tread planks.

Before installing these tread boards I gave them a coat of oil-based primer (top, bottom, and all sides) and a coat of latex porch-and-floor paint.

I notched the treads around the newel posts.


I caulked the gaps with Alex Plus.


The completed stairs.

If only the handrails were so easy...

Completed porch stairs with painted risers, treads and skirting.



Tools Used:

  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • Power Miter Saw
  • Brad Nailer
  • Quick-Grip Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Caulk Gun

Materials Used:

  • Treated Decking, 5/4x6
  • Treated 1x4 Riser Boards
  • Deck Screws, 2", 1-5/8"
  • Caulk



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Copyright 2001, 2005

Written April 9, 2001
Revised January 6, 2005