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Helping you plan your home improvement project, from start to finish


By on Jan 19, 2016
Patio Steps

Patio steps are often the functional quick access point between the house’s tall patio structure and the backyard. Rather than stepping down and risking tripping on the grass from your patio, having accessible steps eliminates the risks and completes the transition from home to nature. They are also useful for access from the backyard to the front.

As a rule, patio steps are wider and broader than standard residential steps. Patio steps should be at least 4' wide to allow two people to stroll comfortably beside each other and even pause to sit on the steps while they enjoy the surroundings. The accepted minimum riser height for a patio step is 4 inches and not higher than 7 inches.

Some common relationships between the riser and tread for patio stairs are:

  • 4-inch riser = 18-inch tread
  • 5-inch riser = 17-inch tread
  • 6-inch riser = 14-inch tread
  • 7-inch riser = 12-inch tread

Whatever combination you select, keep all stairs risers the same. A difference of just 1/4 inch is readily detectable when walking up stairs and may cause someone to stumble. Additionally, if you have more than one set of stairs in the yard or connecting to the house, all stairs should have equal riser heights even if the tread widths vary.

Measuring for size, shape and materials is the first step in designing patio steps. You need to know the height and distance they will go out from the patio and height of the patio steps in total. There needs to be a maximum of six inches for each step’s height and at least four feet in width for the bottom step. They all need to be the same height. They also need to be 15 inches deep from front to back.

After, you will lay out the pavers to simulate the steps' construction. You will need to do this to see exactly how many steps you will need, making sure the height and width match the measurements you took during the first step. Make sure to trace the outline of the bottom step with chalk or a thick pencil on the ground for when it's time to start laying the actual steps. Then you will lay the bottom row of pavers to the patio surface and build and fill the remaining steps from there.

The variety of styles and materials for garden and patio steps is almost limitless. They can be brick, stone, railroad ties, or a combination. Steps can be even a series of differently sized descending patios.


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