Deck Stairs Design Ideas: Explore the Possibilities

December 21, 2020
HomeOutdoor Living IdeasDeck Stairs Design Ideas: Explore the Possibilities

Any deck stairs design should combine style, safety, and durability all in one. Your deck’s stairs are bound to garner a lot of foot traffic from family and friends, and your guests’ safety is of utmost importance. That said, there’s no reason your stairs can’t be eye-catching and stylish, too.

Before you dive into imagining your perfect deck stairs design, you need to first understand deck stair anatomy. Then, you’ll need to consider the factors that will influence your design:

  • Building code requirements.
  • Product application requirements.
  • Deck shape and height.
Deck stairs design with parts of deck stairs labeled

Understanding Deck Stair Anatomy

  • Treads are the horizontal deck boards of each step.
  • Stringers are the wide boards beneath the stairs that run at an angle from the deck to the landing. They support the treads and risers.
  • Risers are boards that cover the vertical spaces between the treads. Risers are also called “toe kicks.”
  • Skirts are usually pieces of trim, like fascia board, that cover the end-cuts of the treads as well as the open underside of the stairs.

Deck Stair Building Code Requirements: What You Need to Know

Your deck stairs design must meet residential building code requirements in order to be considered safe for use. Building codes vary by state and municipality, so you’ll need to check with your city or town hall for your local code requirements. However, there are some standards for stairs that are generally consistent across regions:

Deck stairs design including labeled distance between balusters, bottom rail, stair tread

Product Application Requirements for TimberTech Composite Decking

In addition to local building code requirements, our composite decking products have application requirements depending on several factors such as:

  • The product line.
  • The collection.
  • The board profile.

Span Rating Differences

One example of a product application requirement is that many of our deck boards have different span ratings (the maximum distance between the stringers). Be sure to follow the installation guides for TimberTech® AZEK®, TimberTech PRO®, and TimberTech EDGE to ensure your stairs are built according to application requirements.

How Deck Shape & Height Influence Your Deck Stairs Design

Top-Down Deck Stairs featuring TimberTech PRO Reserve Collection and Drink Rail from Classic Composite Series

Deck shape and height will influence your deck stairs design in several ways including:

  • Whether you need a railing for your stairs. Typically, if your stairs have four risers or more, they require a railing.
  • If your stairs require an intermediate landing. A flight of stairs should not be taller than 12 feet without a landing. If your deck is higher than 12 feet, you’ll need to install an intermediate landing between your deck and the ground.
  • The need for a stair entryway and walkway. Deck stairs require space immediately in front of the entry to the stairs, as well as a 3- to 4-foot walkway across the deck to and from the stairs. Your deck’s shape will need to accommodate these requirements.

As always, be sure to check local code requirements before starting your deck building project.

Customize Your Stairs

Your deck stairs design needs to comply with code regulations, but that doesn’t mean it can’t reflect your unique style. The deck board colors you choose, the railing style, and other add-ons like deck lights all contribute to a look that is all you.

Curved staircase featuring TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection

Deck Boards

TimberTech composite deck boards offer nature-inspired aesthetics to suit any style. Feeling bold? Choose two different colored boards for your treads and risers to ensure your deck’s stairs are truly one-of-a-kind.



Match the railing exactly to your deck board color for a chic minimalist look or choose a complementary color for a dynamic look.

Deck lights by TimberTech featuring AZEK Vintage Collection in Coastline, Mahogany, and Dark Hickory

Deck Lights

Add an ambient glow to your risers and/or railings while improving deck stair safety with deck lights. Keep in mind that some deck lights can only be added at the time of build.

Deck Stairs Design Inspiration

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the requirements for deck stairs design as well as some of the style elements you can customize, it’s time to have some fun with a bit of design inspiration.

Narrow deck stairs design featuring TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection in English Walnut

Stick to the Straight & Narrow

Ideal for medium-sized decks below 12-feet tall, a straight and narrow staircase is perfect for emphasizing its surroundings.

Perfect for: Homes in scenic, natural areas.

Deck Stairs Design with angled stairs featuring TimberTech PRO Legacy Collection in Tigerwood and riser lights

Accentuate the Angles

Celebrate geometric shapes with an angled staircase that features lots of planes and corners for a dynamic look.

Perfect for: Mid-century modern homes with spacious backyards.

Curved deck stairs featuring Timberech AZEK Vintage Collection in Mahogany and Dark Hickory

Go Bold With Curves

Be bold and choose an eye-catching curved design for your deck staircase that offers a gentle transition from home to lawn or patio.

Perfect for: Blending in with elegant landscaping.

Note: Curved designs are only possible with TimberTech® AZEK® capped polymer decking.

Spiral staircase featuring TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection in Coastline capped polymer deck boards

Exude Style With a Spiral Staircase

Kick your deck style up a notch with a gorgeous spiral staircase that offers a new point of view with every step.

Perfect for: Second-story decks with a view.

Ready to get started designing your deck build? Partner with a TimberTech-registered contractor who can lend you their product-specific expertise toward planning your perfect deck stairs design.

Bring the Beauty of TimberTech to Your Backyard

Work with one of our registered contractors for a build that transforms your outdoor living space.

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