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Most raised decks require stairs for access to ground level, while railings are necessary for safety. Along with their practical functions, stairs and railings can add architectural interest to your home and deck. When planning stairs, consider whether you want a gradual or steep ascent and adjust ratio of riser to tread accordingly. The stair width can range all the way from the full span of a deck to a minimum 3 ft. wide.
For all outdoor work you should use rust-resistant hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel nails. Other fasteners and hardware such as bolts, screws and hinges should also be made from similar corrosion resistant materials.
Firm foundations for decks and stair posts are critical for durability and safety. Precast concrete footings are available from your building supply dealer, but pouring your own allows greater flexibility and is more likely to provide better long term performance.