Building a Big Staircase Over a Landscape Retaining Wall & Connecting it with a Bridge to a Patio

Speaker 1: So the story starts out, we built these beautiful boulder retaining walls on this property that we're going to sell. And after we get the walls all done, my wife looks at me and says, "Well those look nice, but how's anybody going to get up to the upper patio if they want to get there from the driveway?"

Speaker 1: You could've said something before I had the walls finished, Honey.

Speaker 1: And so I looked at Frank, and I said, "Hey, let's build some stairs over the retaining wall, and then let's build a bridge to the patio."

Speaker 1: Now normally guys, I don't like to build stairs over. I kind of like to build them through and incorporate them in, so I want to hear from you on this video as you watch it, let me know. Do you like this idea? Do you like this design? Good, bad, or in between, lay it on me. I just want your guys' opinion on this one.

Speaker 1: Oh here's another fun thing I do Guys. On today's video I take all of Frankie's tools and I ask him, "Just use Milwaukee and let me know what you think."

Speaker 1: So let's see how this one goes.

Speaker 1: Today in this spot, we're going to build a wood staircase up and over this boulder retaining wall and connect it with a wood sidewalk. That's going to help us gain access to the upper level from the lower level. So what are we waiting for? Let's get going.

Speaker 1: When you're building a staircase, what's the most critical thing to take into consideration, Frankie?

Frankie: Keeping your steps level. You know when you're walking uphill, everything's flat. So your step pattern ain't tilting down or up, because it's just unbalance. I mean, you'll walk up the steps funny.

Speaker 1: Now another one of those common sense building techniques is to always keep your stair treads the exact same distance. If you have one stair tread that's a little higher or a little lower than the others, it will throw you off every single time. So making sure that your stair tread height maintains and equal course over the entire staircase is vitally important.

Speaker 1: Would also keeping the steps, every step the same height be ...

Frankie: Oh yes. You got a nine inch rise with a ... I usually to go with, well, eleven inch step with a nine inch rise, seven inch rise. Might want to check that before you show that. I think it might be a seven inch rise. I better grab my tape measure.

Speaker 1: He's a perfectionist.

Frankie: Seven inch rise. With an eleven inch step. Two boards gives you that little bull nose in the front.

Speaker 1: He is, just like when it comes to details, there's no compromising.

Speaker 1: Now an important note, these stairs are not actually technically connected to the house. So the code requirements for these are not going to be as stringent as if this was actually tied into the main structure above. But you still have to use common sense.

Speaker 1: Hey Frankie, I got a question for you.

Frankie: Yes.

Speaker 1: You ever thought you'd use a battery powered miter saw before?

Frankie: No. I would've never have thought that it would have had enough power to it for my use to use it.

Speaker 1: And how is this holding up for you?

Frankie: This is holding up good. I've made, the same battery as I've started the job with, and I've cut and made all of my spin ... or my stairs. Basically everything I've cut up there has been cut on the miter saw.

Speaker 1: Oh so you're telling me that you've built this entire staircase on that one battery?

Frankie: Yes. Yes.

Speaker 1: No way.

Frankie: I'm still using it.

Speaker 1: No way.

Frankie: Yes. And I've still got life in this one.

Speaker 1: How much life you got in it?

Frankie: I have ...

Speaker 1: Two bars.

Frankie: Two bars. Yes.

Speaker 1: Holy cow.

Speaker 1: Now one of the common sense building techniques that I want to talk about is the amount of stair stringers for your project. Some people will try to skimp and just use them on the outside. What will happen is the stair treads will eventually begin to deflect, crack, or oven break. Now in this case, we have a three foot wide opening, so we're using three stair stringers. If your stair tread happens to be wider, you may want to opt to add a fourth one in there.

Frankie: I made a pretty clean cut.

Speaker 1: That's Frankie's first time ever using a Hackzall before.

Frankie: Yes. Nice little tool.

Speaker 1: It's kind of like a sawzall, but I think it's a little more well balanced and just easier to handle. It's kind of like and extension of your arm a little bit more, isn't it?

Frankie: Yes.

Speaker 1: Now sometimes you have to get creative to make the staircase actually fit your site. I want you to take a look at the bottom two landing platforms. We actually imported fill soil, and built those two bottom platforms. This helped us raise the entire staircase up, which pushed it over the top of the retaining wall. This also allowed us to push it in closer to where we wanted it. If we had left it down, it would have actually bumped the entire staircase further out into the driveway.

Speaker 1: All right, Frankie, what are you up to now?

Frankie: Putting the deck boards down for the sidewalk.

Speaker 1: You were telling me about gaping. What do you mean by gaping?

Frankie: Well, the gap in between them, I'm going, I usually go ... over that 16 penny nail in between them. I'm going a little bit wider now, because there is a lot of leaves that fall in this area, and I don't want stuff to sit in here. Because if it sits in there, it'll just rot the boards that much quicker. We don't want that because then you'll be replacing boards.

Speaker 1: So you're actually spacing a little wider to let the debris slide through.

Frankie: Yes. And then, like underneath too, there's ... because we're floating across everything, I got air space underneath all my planks.

Speaker 1: This is the air space Frankie's talking about. He's going to actually keep the soil from being on the boards, on the sideboards, when the finished product is done. Now I noticed you don't look like you're lining up the ends. Are you planning on cutting them at the very end?

Frankie: Yes. I cut them again. So I just kind of, I cut everything at 40 inches, you know, I got 10 foot boards, so I cut everything at 40 inches. So now with my overhang, well, instead of trying to get every one exactly right, I just cut them at the end.

Speaker 1: All right guys, now that you've seen it, let me know what you think of it. Now, if I was doing this on someone's property, this is not the way I would normally do it, but this is my own place, and so this is where I get to experiment and try different things. Now if I was building something for somebody else, what I would normally do is definitely pull that boulder retaining wall apart and then build returns going up the slope. Then I would sandwich those stairs in between those returns, making the whole thing kind of look like it was all nestled together real tight. I just wanted to see what it would look like if I literally just forged a set of stairs over a retaining wall.

Speaker 1: Like I said, not the way I normally do it, but I'll take that chance on my own property. So let me know what you guys think. Do you like the idea? Or don't like it? I don't care. Let's share. Hey that kind of rhymed.

Speaker 1: Give me a big thumbs up if you find these videos are helpful in any way, shape, or form. God bless you guys. And let's make something great!

Speaker 1: Yes, Frankie's actually taking apart the batteries on his cordless tools and fix them.

Speaker 1: We're rolling.

Speaker 1: All right today, we're going to build a set of staircase.

Speaker 1: All right today we're going to build a grand staircase.

Speaker 1: All right, today in this spot, we're going to build a timber staircase. We're going to wide, flare it out on the bottom to make it inviting. Up and over ... I don't like that last part. Is it a timber staircase or a wood staircase.

Frankie: I would just go with a wood. Yes.

Speaker 1: Wood staircase?

Frankie: Yes.

Speaker 1: All right, today in this spot we're going to build a wood staircase to go up and over this boulder retaining wall with a ... what kind of a sidewalk are we going to build, Frankie?

Frankie: Expandable ... no it wouldn't be ... a sidewalk spanning from rock to rock, or something like that.

Speaker 1: And a wood sidewalk.

Frankie: With a, well yes, with a, well, with a floating, I mean, I don't know how I would say it, actually.

Speaker 1: It's a wood staircase and a wood sidewalk.

Frankie: Yes. Yes.

Speaker 1: It's kind of unique.

Frankie: Yes. Sidewalk over the wall, yes, your block wall, or your rock wall.

Speaker 1: All right, today in this spot we're going to build a wood staircase.

Speaker 1: Today in this spot, we're g ...

Speaker 1: Today in this spot, we're going to build a wood staircase up and over this boulder retaining wall, and connect it with a wood sidewalk. That's going to help us gain access to the upper level from the lower level. So what are we waiting for? Let's get going.

Frankie: That wasn't bad.



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