Average Cost to Build Stairs
In all kinds of homes and outdoor spaces, stairs are the ideal way to easily connect two levels. Constructing stairs, as well as railings or handrails, needs to be done perfectly in order to be a safe and attractive addition to your home. Use this guide to see the average costs and what factors can influence the total price of the project.
Once completed, be sure to connect with local carpenters who can help with your next stair project.
National Build Stairs or Railings Costs
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Table of Contents
- Staircase Cost
- Staircase Material Costs
- Staircase Demolition Costs
- Staircase Styles
- Railing & Handrail Costs
- Railing & Handrail Materials
- DIY Or Hire A Pro?
- How To Install Stairs & Railings
- Find A Pro
Whether you’re building a brand new home or remodeling an existing staircase, it’s important to have a rough idea of the various elements involved. Since building a staircase is a big job, it’s important that you budget properly. Trying to ascertain the exact price for your space is not easy, and there are several factors that can influence the price. For example, an outdoor staircase with five steps is going to cost a lot less than a winding indoor staircase with 24 steps. Nonetheless, the average staircase cost is $2,100, with most homeowners paying between $1,200 and $3,000.
Interior Stairs Cost
Of course, there are interior stairs and exterior stairs. Since interior stairs generally consist of more steps, they’re typically more expensive than exterior stairs. Breaking it down even further, interior stairs include stairs leading to the second floor, basement stairs and attic stairs. Since designs and installations are different, they come in at different price points:
- Main Staircase: The most important staircase in your home will likely cost approximately $2,400. The main staircase catches your eye as soon as you walk into the home. The design demands attention and as such, typically costs more than any other interior staircase.
- Basement Staircase: Most people don’t give too much thought to their basement stairs. In fact, some don’t add padding or paint. Since design is not a focus here, expect the cost to hover around $1,400.
- Attic Staircase: Even less expensive are attic stairs. They generally drop from the ceiling and are thin, but strong pieces of wood. The cost to install attic stairs should not exceed $1,000.
Exterior Stairs Cost
Exterior stairs do not cost as much as interior stairs, but they do come with more red tape. That’s because certain housing codes require specific dimensions, railings, handrails and other details for numerous exterior stairs. If you’re considering adding exterior stairs, check with your local housing department for specifications before any construction begins.
Nonetheless, it helps knowing the different types of exterior stairs, each of which should not cost more than $300 per stair:
- Patio Stairs: These steps should be at least 4' wide to allow two people to stroll comfortably beside each other and even pause to sit on the patio steps. In terms of material, make sure it matches the rest of your patio.
- Deck Stairs: Generally made of wood or composite, you usually don’t need more than three or four deck stairs. If you use a different material than your deck, maintenance times double.
- Porch Stairs: No exterior staircase is more visible than your porch stairs. Since it gets more attention, homeowners often install brick or stone steps for their exterior entry.
Staircase Material Costs
Whether installing interior or exterior stairs, you have a few options when it comes to materials. More often than not, the type of stairs you’re adding determines the material. For example, you wouldn’t install stone steps leading up to your wood deck. It just doesn’t make sense. However, it pays to know all options, and their costs, when it comes to staircase materials:
- Wood: Hardwood is the most popular material for all staircases. Wood stairs dominate the interior stair market and are quite popular for decks and porch steps as well. In addition, you have numerous choices when it comes to type of wood.
- Concrete: More common for exterior stairs, concrete is very strong and can take a beating in colder climates. Needless to say, they work well with concrete patios.
- Metal: You don’t see metal stairs often, but when you do, it’s usually for a spiraling staircase. They are very durable, but not soft on the feet.
- Stone: If you want an upscale design, stone steps could be your answer. Stone is only used for exterior stairs, but there are many types available, each with identifiable benefits and drawbacks.
Cost Per Step
$36 to $51
Staircase Demolition Costs
Before you bring in professional contractors to install your new staircase, you may need to demolish existing stairs. This can be a substantial project, one that requires a lot of time and labor. As such, the average cost to demolish stairs can get up to $2,000 alone.
While you may be able to help in order to cut costs, demolishing is best left to those who know which pieces of framing are load-bearing and which can go. It’s also important to remember that anytime you remove and demolish parts of the home, you have to come back and install drywall and paint wherever the existing space was damaged. This can increase the staircase remodel cost.
Besides material, in terms of design, you also have to determine your staircase style. The more space you have, the more staircase styles you have available. Luckily, most homeowners have the choice of nine different staircase styles.
In terms of cost, more complicated designs (like spiral or helical) cost more.
- Straight: As the name suggests, this is a straight, uninterrupted staircase. They may or may not include a railing, but if you have small children, you better add one. Straight stairs are very common with traditional home designs. It’s the least expensive style.
- U-Shaped: These stairs offer more privacy for the second story. If a home doesn’t have enough space for straight staircases, they generally go with U- or L-shaped staircases.
- L-Shaped: These stairs provide a bit more safety than a straight staircase. If someone falls, they don’t fall the entire length of the staircase (just to the next landing).
- Spiral: Jumping into more complicated designs (and the next pricing tier), spiral staircases add a fun design to the home and are ideal for small spaces. They are typically made of metal.
- Helical: This design looks just like a spiral, but the entire staircase is wider. It makes for a grand design, if you have the space and money. Then again, if you want your staircase to stand out, you could try these seven staircase décor ideas.
- Open Risers: If you want a more airy look, go with open riser steps. The risers are the vertical part of the stair. No risers are common with modern home designs. The support for each step runs down the middle or on both ends.
- Floating: These stairs look as if they’re floating in mid air. This style is not recommended if you have children, as they often do not include railings.
- Winder: This staircase curves, but not as much as a spiral. They often turn at 90-degree angles. There are no flat landings.
- Arched: Finally, arched stairs fall somewhere in the middle of a spiral and straight staircase. These stairs require a lot of space and are generally only found in larger homes.
Railing & Handrail Costs
Railings and handrails don’t only provide necessary safety as we go up and down our new staircase, but they can also add to whatever design you’re shooting for. Just like the staircase styles mentioned above, railing and handrail prices range. The cost of stair railings generally cost between $336 and $572. To decrease costs, go with wood railings and attach them to the wall versus the stairs.
Of course, your handrail cost pales in comparison to the price of safety. Without railings, young children, the elderly or anyone without a keen sense of balance would fall. Railings usually needs to be set at a certain height, often between 34 and 38 inches, and it needs to support at least 200 pounds. There may also be local regulations regarding its distance from the wall or from other structures. Every community has different local building codes.
Moving to the outdoors, railings are more often made of metal or wrought iron. If you go with wood, make sure the wood is pressure-treated. Otherwise, railing and stair repairs could come up.
Railing & Handrail Materials
Unlike stairs, metal is actually a very common material for railings and handrails. It gives the home a classic and can be formed into any shape you wish. As you might expend, this makes is especially popular with spiral, helical or any oddly shaped staircase. Nevertheless, you do have a few other options as well:
- Wood: Like metal, wood railings can be transformed and placed anywhere in the home. You can paint it any color you wish and go with both traditional and modern homes. In fact, open risers and floating stairs are almost always made of wood. If you wanted to add a handrail to these stairs, wood is the way to go.
- Glass: A little more expensive, metal or glass really brings out a modern design. Both are great for smaller spaces as they make the staircase look larger than it really is.
- Metal: Great for exterior stair railings, metal can go with almost any home design (maybe not rustic). They do not rust and require less maintenance, making it very popular for the outdoors. Nonetheless, it’s also durable and sturdy, ideal for staircases that see a lot of foot traffic.
DIY Or Hire A Pro?
Whether or not you choose to build your own staircase really depends on your DIY skillset. Constructing brand new treads (the part you step on) and risers is a job more for a carpenter or woodworker, but as far as installation goes, you can do it on your own if you have a handy set of instructions (see below).
How To Install Stairs & Railings
If you’re ready to take the DIY leap of faith, kudos to you. The DIY steps below assume you have basic DIY skills, have a staircase in place (replacement) and already have all materials and tools needed. Follow each step precisely. If you don’t, you could end up with a loose tread that could seriously hurt someone.
- Install the treads and risers, working you way up the stairs. Add screws towards the back of the tread.
- Add extra support for the last tread with an extra piece of wood.
- Fill screw holes with matching putty.
- Install the landing at the top. Using wood, make sure you tap all boards into place. Use a nail gun to secure all planks.
- Install the half-newel post (holds railings and handrail together) at top of the stairs.
- Install newel post at the bottom of the staircase.
- Measure railing and make sure it’s the correct length.
- Pre-drill holes for balusters. Drill out the bottom centers of the baluster and twist into place.
- Attach railing into the newel post. Then, insert balusters into railings holes. Add screws where needed.
- Add moldings if desired.
The process can take a while. To visualize it, please see DIY Network. For help with railing installation, watch the video below:
Find A Pro
Stair installation or replacement can dramatically change the look and feel of any home, no matter the staircase in question. The steps above are a basic guideline. To make sure you install a safe and reliable staircase, consult with a local contractor.
Fortunately, ImproveNet can easily connect you with you to four carpenters in your area ready to take on your stair or railing project.
Last updated on Feb 1, 2017
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