One of the challenges of building in the desert is the climate tends to be more abrasive and damaging to our materials. For the project, I was tasked with building a new set of porch steps at a residence in a desert environment, nestled at the base of the mountains, and not far from a huge lake.
The old steps had begun to succumb to the constant beating from temperature swings, long days in direct sunlight, the blistering heat of summer, hot and dry, as well as the freezing temperatures of the winter, and the occasional torrential downpour. The old steps were wobbly, narrow, generally difficult to navigate, and by the time I received my task, downright dangerous.
For the new steps, I started by setting a sturdy foundation; the ground below was solid, so I simply scraped off the loose top layer, tamped out the sections I wanted, and set paving stones for my steps to rest above the ground level. I also setup drainage under and around the steps to prevent water from washing washing out my foundation.
I then built new steps, with rails, out of 2 x 12″ PT boards, and attached everything using Deckmate screws. The new steps are four feet wide at the treads, with solid rails on both sides that will actually hold a persons weight if needed.
With several improvements over the old steps, the residents were quite happy to have safe, solid steps to get up and down, and even better, they were able to confidently carry groceries from the cars in the driveway to the kitchen just beyond the porch!