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How to Build Cascading Steps

Catherine Hudgins

Cascading steps offer a simple solution to climbing a shallow rise on a pathway or accessing a low deck, patio, porch or door. Such steps flare out to become wider as they descend and can be made with flat slabs of rock or shallow boxes, stacked to form steps. Since cascading steps take up more space than standard stairs, consider their placement carefully. Use them where you only need a few steps.

Cascading steps give your home or patio a welcoming look.

Step 1

Divide the total rise needed by desired height of each step to determine the number of steps needed. Multiply the number of steps by the desired tread depth. Measure that distance perpendicular to the deck or landing area with a measuring tape and mark with lime or chalkline. Draw a line from the width of the lowest step to the deck. Remove sod and 4 to 8 inches of substrate from the marked area. Fill with cement or use gravel smoothed with rake to make a pad. Check the level.

Step 2

Measure, mark and cut 2-by-6-inch lumber to create a frame sized to cover the pad. Nail the frame together. Add blocks (cross-bracing) to the inside of the box if necessary for stability. Cut stair treads from 5/4-by-6 decking lumber, adding 1/2-inch to the total depth to allow for overhang at the front of the step. Nail the treads to the box frame. Make the other steps the same way, reducing the depth of each box from the previous one by one tread depth and decreasing the width as planned. Make every box the same height.

Step 3

Place the bottom step on a pad. Stack the remaining boxes in order of decreasing size, aligning the backs of all steps and centering each width-wise on the one below it. Connect the individual box frames to each other using strap ties and bolt the assembly to the deck frame with hex bolts.