How to Build Steps

How to Build Steps

Instructions on how to build steps are actually pretty simple. This is one of those projects you really can do yourself!

How to Build Steps Out of Concrete

Once you decide what you need, you can easily learn how to build steps out of concrete. You'll need the following supplies:


  • Concrete mix (Quikrete works well)
  • Sand or gravel
  • Plywood
  • Lumber-generally 2x8s and 2x4s (These will be used to build the form for your steps.)
  • Oil (This is to aid you in removing the form from the steps.)
  • Trowel
  • Mixing box (You can use a power mixer as well.)
  • Wood float
  • Edger
  • Darby
  • Saw
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Tape
  • Ruler
  • String

Building the Form

  • The height, or riser, of each step should be around 7 or 8 inches.
  • The depth, or tread, of each step should be around 11 or 12 inches.
  • Level the ground that the steps will rest on by clearing any grass or other ground cover. You'll probably have to dig into the ground for several inches to create a completely level spot.
  • Once you've created a level area, you should fill it with gravel or sand, and make that level as well.
  • Create stakes out of the 2x4's which will support the plywood for the project. Use ½ sheets of plywood to make the sides using the measurements for the steps.
  • Nail each of the plywood sides to the stakes, adding more stakes for support if needed.
  • Coat the insides of the plywood form with oil to make removal easier.

Pouring and Finishing the Concrete

Before you begin mixing and pouring your concrete, have all the supplies nearby.

  • Mix enough concrete at one time to fill the entire project. You'll want to add slightly more concrete than needed to the forms.
  • Use a shovel to work the concrete into the forms as compactly as possible. Some people prefer to add pieces of broken concrete blocks to reduce the amount of concrete needed for the project.
  • To create a clean line for your steps, use the edge of a 2x4 piece of wood to smooth the concrete.
  • Use your darby, which is a smooth board about 3 feet long with a handle, to level and fill voids in the concrete.
  • Wait until any water that is in the concrete has evaporated before using a trowel to do one last bit of smoothing.
  • An edging tool may be used to round off the edges of the steps.
  • It's best to keep the concrete damp for 6 or 7 days after it has been poured. This is referred to as "moisture curing" and will produce a more sturdy set of steps.
  • Do not remove the plywood forms until the concrete has been cured.

Building Wooden Steps

Need new steps for a basement staircase or some other part of your home, like a deck? While you might think that following instructions for how to build steps out of wood is too complicated to try on your own, think again. The following list of websites give you detailed instructions for this project. Many of these sites offer step by step instructions, along with pictures for each step.

  • Popular Mechanics - Learn how to build your own stairs in three easy steps at this site.
  • HGTV - Find directions to virtually any project, including steps and staircases, at this site.
  • This Old House - Learn how to build wooden landscape steps at this site.
  • Do It Yourself - Find detailed instructions and illustrations for building steps at this site.

Whether you plan to build steps of concrete or wood, the project is manageable for a do-it-yourselfer.

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How to Build Steps