Are you ready to learnhow to build steps on a slope? You’ve come to the right place. Today I’m sharing how I built these wooden steps into a slope in our backyard.
We installed a patio and needed a way to get to it from our deck, queue the walkway on a slope!
We took it upon ourselves to build stairs into the hill in our back yard.
We thought it would be a nice compliment and really polish off our backyard makeover, not to mentiona great way to get to our new DIY patio from the deck.
Since the slope wasn’t too bad, we thought we might be able to get away with just a gravel pathway, but we wanted a more grand look.
We used ground contact pressure treated lumber for all the wood since it’s sitting in the ground.
How to Build Steps on a Slope
Once you do all your measuring (do it before you buy the materials), and get yourmaterials, you’re all set to begin!
Start by staining the wood where it will meet the ground.
We stained the wood and allowed it to dry.
Measuring The Slope
The formula for measuring how many steps you need is really simple.
It’s the height of the hill from top to bottom in inches divided by anywhere between 6 and 8 for this type of stair.
Because ours was 28 inches from the top of the slope to the bottom when you divide by 7, you get.. 4!
To get the height of your slope, put a stake in the ground at the top, wrap a mason string around the bottom of the stake, run the string to the bottom of the slope where you’ll have another (maybe longer) stake that you will level and tie it to.
Use a line level and pull the string tight, level it (making sure it stays tight) and measure from the line to the ground at the bottom of the hill.
Take the measurement in inches and divide to get the number of steps you will need.
Prep The Ground
Prepare the ground by loosening the dirt and digging out extra deep along the sides like this…
You’ll probably have to do more digging once you get the structures in place, moving them around and refitting them.
Take your time, there’s no rush.
Create The Stair Structure
Create U shaped structures like those below using the 2×8’s as side rails and 6×6 posts, cut in half for our 4ft wide stairway.
Use the 8 screw pattern. 6 screws to look like a 6 on a dice and 2 screws evenly spaced in the center.
Fit the first U structure up against the (stairs in our case)/building or where ever your first step will be.
Fit the second U shaped structure under the first one and move dirt around until you get the top step level both front to back and side to side.
Remember you’ve already measured for your project, so you should know how long your step should be.
Assemble Stair Structure
Use reinforcement bar and/or wood cleats to connect the lower board to the upper board on the inside.
Looking at the photo above, the cleat would go between the new top step and the deck stairs, just inside the step. This connects the two 2×8 boards together.
Do this on both sides, making sure everything is even, square and level before attaching — you may have to dig out or shift some gravel around to get everything level at this step.
You can see the cleats on the inside, just behind each step, in the picture below (look closely!). Make sure your cleats don’t stick up too high or they’ll show after your get your stones in.
Continue these steps, adjusting them so everything stays level and square until you’ve reached the bottom of the hill or slope.
At this point, we took the planned week break and resumed the following weekend.
Hardpack or Topsoil
When we came back, we stained the insides and top of the rails and backside of the posts before filling with dirt.
Most people will tell you to use a hardpack material as you’d use for the patio installation.
However, if we ever want to convert back to grass, we didn’t want all the hardpack. Instead, we wanted soil that had the ability to grow grass.
So, we chose to fill with topsoil. Pack that topsoil every couple of inches until you’ve filled your voids – leave room for stone!
We left a 2-inch void to be filled with 3/4 inch decorative pathway stone.
Loose Stone Walkway Stairs
Because no one likes weeds, the first order of business is laying down landscape fabric.
Once the landscape fabric is in place, you can dump in your stones in.
Rake down and pack your stones to a nice level area. They will move around, they’re loose stones.
Steps On A Slope
Stain, landscape fabric, stones…
Because I had another small project in mind, I ordered a wee bit too much stone.
So, with the leftover stone, we made a walkway from the new steps to the back door of the garage.
To get a nice curve, used a bender board. First, we dug a shallow ditch, put the board in it and made sure it was even and level all the way around.
We used a scrap piece of 2×4 to measure a 2-inch rim above the ground all the way around. Backfilling and using the provided stakes secured the bender boardto the ground well.
After covering the walkwaywith landscape fabric, we added and packed the extra stone into the walkway.
We also used some larger stones to border the inside of the walkway.
Keep going to see the finished product!
If I can do it, you can too! It’s easy to learn how to build steps on a slope, just take your time and go one step at a time. (pun intended!)
Here is the finished project. Some solar lights and some flowers finish off the new gravel stone stairs on a hill and a gravel stone walkway!
Because it takes weeks for the grass to grow, I didn’t get a great photo for you.
So this is what you get for now. That’s how to build steps into a slope!
If you liked this, you’ll love our Backyard Makeover!
Because we did such a great job, we even had visitors!
- How to Install a Paver Walkway
- How to Install a Paver Patio
Scrappy Geek says:
April 12, 20204:29 pm
Yes, they’re about 48″ each and you can take 3 steps comfortably. The riser height is about 7 inches. Hope that helps!
April 11, 20201:53 am
Could you give the dimensions of your steps? How long are each of the steps/treads? They look about 48 inches each? Can you take 3 full steps on each Platform? How high is each rise?
Scrappy Geek says:
May 30, 201812:48 pm
Hi Ali! I’d be very cautious doing this with a spring in your yard that makes the ground wet all the time. Chances are the stone would sink into the ground. I’d suggest consulting a contractor to see what they think!
May 30, 201811:07 am(Video) How To Use Guide Boards To Build Landscaping Stairs On Small Hillside - Easy Construction Projects
Could u do this if u have a natural spring in ur yard?We have one and it makes the ground stay wet all the time.
Scrappy Geek says:
January 1, 20182:51 pm
Hi Mick, I would suggest shortening the run of each step for the steeper area, making more steps over the steeper, but shorter distance. Hope that helps!
January 1, 20181:49 pm
Hi there – this info is great. I need to build a stair walkway with varying degrees of slope. Close to the house it’s fairly gentle for about 50 feet, but further down it steepens for about 30 feet, then gentle again for about 20. How would you suggest designing these awesome steps for slopes that go from gentle to steep and back again? Thanks!
Scrappy Geek says:
May 11, 20172:47 pm
Hi Tina! A recommended step height is typically 7″, so that’s where that number came into play. If you’re step height is 4 inches, you’ll need to divide 66 by 4 = 16.5, so either 16 or 17 steps. If your run is 336, you’ll need to divide 336 by 16 or 17 to get the distance for each step run for installation. Hope that helps!
May 11, 20172:28 pm
If the rise is 66″ and the run is 336″ and the wood when together is 4″ x 4′ shape of U so the step rise is 4″. How many steps will I need? I am not sure where you got that 7 number from unless it is the middle from your 6″ or 8″ wood height. Thank you!!!
July 17, 20148:26 pm
That turned out great! Good job with the stairs. I also love the view of your back yard.(Video) DIY How to Build Stairs on a Hill or Slope Part 2
Comments are closed.
Another Method For Calculating Stair Layout on A Long or Steep Hillside
Comfortable landscape steps have a "rise" of about 6 inches. Divide the height of your slope by 6 inches (or however many inches tall you've decided to make the rise of your steps). If, for instance, your slope is 60 inches tall and you plan to build steps with a 6-inch rise, you will need 10 steps.
BUILDING STEPS INTO A HILL | HOW TO BUILD LANDSCAPE STAIRS
You divide the height by 7 inches; if, say, the floor-to-floor distance is 8 feet, 10 inches (or 106 inches), then you'll need 15 treads (106 divided by 7 equals 15.14). Next, you divide the height by the number of treads (15 into 106), producing the exact tread height (7.06 inches).
The typical stairs slope for steep stairs varies between 50 and 70 degrees. Steep stairs like ship stairs, spiral stairs, and alternating tread stairs have typical slope between 50 degrees and 70 degrees to save space. The steeper slope shortens the horizontal run of the stairs so they take up less space.
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What is code for rise and run of stairs? The 2018 IBC building code for rise and run of stairs is a maximum 7" rise and minimum 11" run (tread depth). The OSHA standard for rise and run of stairs is maximum 9.5" rise and minimum 9.5" run (tread depth). The IBC maximum rise of a single stair flight is 12.
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Church laid out a widely-used measure: twice the height of the riser plus the tread should equal 26 inches (66.04 centimetres). The number of steps is commonly calculated to be the change of level in the garden divided by 15 centimetres. Most stairs have three up to 12 steps.
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The principle of making steps in your garden is exactly the same as anywhere else.. Once you have marked out the area into which your steps will go, you need to work out the number of steps you’ll need in your flight.. Two concrete blocks are laid flat to form the shuttering or formwork for the concrete behind.. The treads were cut to size and laid from the same paving as the patio.. This should rise to the point the second step will be built which will ensure that the water runs off the front of the step, much in the way described above.. In this method you build the next riser on top of the paver or tread of the step below.. The easiest way to build steps like this is to build low walls with bricks or blocks where the risers and sides of the flight will be.
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deck screws Decking for risers and treads. From this point, you can measure the exact stair height and determine the stringer and skirt length.. Cut only the top and bottom of the stair stringer with a circular saw.. Screw a 2x6 the width of the stringers to the backside of the stringers with two deck screws into each board.. Nail on the second riser board and then screw on the two 2x6 bottom treads, leaving a 1/4-in.
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