How to Build Steps to a Tree House

If you're planning to build a tree house, you need to build some type of access to it.

Preparation

Cut the bottom end of the first stringer level to the ground.Cut the bottom end of the first stringer level to the ground.
If you're building the tree house for children, a height of 5 feet is optimal. Five feet may not sound very high, but for kids in a tree, it's high enough. For a frequently used tree house, a set of solid, easy-to-climb steps is the best choice. A homeowner with some experience in woodworking should be able to build this project in a few hours.

Step 1

Cut the bottom end of the first stringer level to the ground.

Ensure that the ground at the base of your steps is firm and level. Place one end of the first stringer on the ground and lean the other end against the tree house platform with the 2-inch side against the frame. Adjust the stringer to a 60- to 70-degree angle. Mark the bottom end of the stringer level to the ground. Cut the bottom of the stringer.

Step 2

Mark and cut a level line at top of stringer.

Put the stringer back up against the tree house platform. Mark a vertical line at the top of the stringer and cut on the line to fit stringer to the platform. Attach stringer to platform with 3 1/2-inch galvanized deck screws.

Step 3

Once the first stringer is cut to fit properly, use it as a template to mark and cut the second stringer.

Step 4

Use 3 1/2-inch deck screws to affix steps to platform.

Fasten both stringers to the tree house platform 16 inches apart with 3 1/2-inch galvanized deck screws.

Step 5

Use a carpenter's level to layout placement for rungs on each stringer.

Mark every 8 inches on the inner face of one stringer for tread placement. This will give you a rise, or distance between steps, of 8 inches. Using a carpenter's level, make corresponding marks on the second stringer. Extend a level mark toward the back of each stringer across the inside face. These layout lines mark the top of each tread.

Step 6

Cut treads from 2 by 6 lumber.

Cut 2 by 6 lumber to 16-inch lengths for treads.

Step 7

Drill pilot holes in stringer for deck screws.

Set each tread in place with 3 1/2-inch galvanized deck screws driven through pilot holes drilled in the outside of the stringer. Ensure that the top of each tread is on the top of its perspective layout line.

Step 8

Use 2-inch galvanized deck screws to fasten cleats through pilot holes.

Reinforce each tread with a supporting 1 by 4 cleat. The cleats should fit at the end of each stringer from top of lower tread to bottom of tread above it. Use 2-inch screws driven through pilot holes you drilled to fasten the cleats to the treads.

Step 9

Finish steps with a wood sealer.

Finish ladder with a sealer for wood products, if desired.

Things You Will Need

  • 10-foot lengths of 2 x 8 treated lumber for stringers, 2 each
  • 8-foot lengths of 2 x 6 treated lumber for rungs, 3 each
  • 3 1/2-inch galvanized deck screws, 120 each
  • 2-inch galvanized deck screws, 50 each
  • 1 pint of wood sealer

Tips

  • The optimal angle for a ladder is 60 to 70 degrees.
  • Fasten top end of ladder to the edge of the platform or extend beyond it.
  • Instead of marking treads every 8 inches, you may increase the intervals to 10 inches for a higher rise that is still comfortable to use.

Warning

  • Do not select lumber with a lot of knots as this will compromise the strength of your stringers and treads.

About the Author

Based in eastern Virginia, Cathy Welch began writing nonfiction articles and novels in 1996. She wrote a short story that appears in John Maxwell’s “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.” She writes reviews and nonfiction for Longridge Writer’s Group. Welch holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Christopher Newport University with a concentration in management.