Premade Steps For Mobile Homes | Know Your Options Before You Buy
If you are either looking to buy a mobile home, or you are a new owner, you probably already know that mobile homes are elevated and need steps for access. You might also be tired of the relatively generic steps that tend to come with manufactured homes, especially older models.
If you’re looking to upgrade but not sure what to expect, what to consider, or what your options are, we are here to help you through today’s guide. After reading this, you’ll be able to confidently choose from the best, premade steps for mobile homes. So you can get in and out of your home!
Do you need exterior steps?
The simple answer is yes. It’s a requirement for mobile homes to be placed in an elevated position in almost all states. This is to protect them from floods as well as other weather conditions.
As a safety precaution, local authorities also require you to have steps leading down from your exit doors. So, even if you are OK with jumping in and out of your home, it’s still against the law.
Difference between stairs and steps
The difference between steps and stairs is relatively straightforward:
If you have three or fewer steps, then it’s a set of steps. On the other hand, if you have four or more steps, it’s technically a flight of stairs. It’s important to know the difference because safety codes and requirements could be different based on what kind you have.
Knowing the basics of the anatomy of stairs or steps will come in handy when browsing for your new steps:
Anatomy of stairs or steps:
- Step: The combination of a riser and a runner constitutes a single step.
- Rise: The rise is the vertical height of each step and the riser is the physical piece of vertical material.
- Runs: The run is the horizontal length of each step, i.e. the distance between the outer surface of two risers. The actual material is also referred to as the runner.
- Tread: It’s easy to confuse the runner and the tread. However, the tread is the actual outer material that your foot or shoe makes contact with.
- Nose: The nose is an optional overlapping of the runner over the riser. Its length is limited by local codes and usually set at less than 1 inch to not be a trip hazard.
- Slope: The slope is the degree at which your stairs or steps go upwards. It’s a product of the runner to riser ratio and can be measured from nose to nose. The average slope for home steps or stairs is around 35 degrees give or take.
- Railing: The railing is the diagonal handrail that you hold on to when climbing or descending stairs. There can also be a bottom railing running along the lower end of the banister.
- Posts: These are the vertical beams that act as the primary support for the handrail. You usually have one at each end of the steps/stairs. If your steps/stairs are long enough, you might need additional posts running at certain intervals.
- Baluster: Balusters are the vertical support beams that hold up a railing. Local codes usually determine the width between balusters at around 5”.
- Banister: The combination of the baluster and the railing is what makes up a banister.
Other general standards …
It’s important to note that most of these have standard measurements determined by local building codes for the safety of people using them. This is especially true for the runners, risers, nose, and slope but may also be true for the banister’s components. Usually, if there are four or more steps, you must have at least one railing.
Some of the general requirements are:
- A minimum of three feet wide.
- There should be a railing on both sides. Usually, they must be at least 34” high with a maximum amount of spacing between the balustrades.
What kind of materials are premade steps for mobile homes made of?
As always, wood is the most popular choice when it comes to steps or stairs, even when it comes to the exterior. From an aesthetic perspective, it’s definitely one of the better-looking options with a lot of variety when it comes to staining, grain, etc. Wood also has the benefit of being relatively affordable and readily available.
It can also be one of the easiest to repair when damaged. This is a good thing as wood is much more susceptible to water damage, rot, insects (like termites) or physical damage.
The most common types of wood steps are:
- Cedar: A staple of all wood construction. Cedar is so popular because it’s adaptable to the moisture conditions of different areas and more resistant to rot than other woods. Oh, and it looks pretty good.
- Composite wood: This type of wood consists of a combination of wood and polymer fibers. This makes it much more resistant to weather and insects than other types of wood. It’s one of the more expensive types of woods. You can get it in a lot of different styles. This is the lowest-effort wood to use.
- Treated wood: Treated wood is usually a bit more durable than other types. This is because it’s strengthened by compressing the wood and treating it with certain chemicals. However, you will still need to seal it yourself from time to time to ensure longevity.
Of course, there are many other types of premade wood steps to choose from. Remember to also consider whether the balustrade is made of wood as wooden steps with metal balustrades are quite common.
Metal steps are the next most popular material after wood. They are also usually inexpensive, lightweight, and a lot stronger and long-lasting than wooden steps. The biggest downsides to metal steps are that they aren’t as attractive to look at and that they are susceptible to rust over time. So, they require a bit of maintenance now and then.
Of course, you should be able to paint metal steps anyway you like. They also usually come as a movable unit and can sometimes even be taken apart and put back together easily. There are a number of different types of metals used for these kinds of steps. Aluminum is one of the better quality but more expensive options. Iron, or some of the heavier metals, is usually only used for balusters.
If you choose concrete steps, you are opting for a bit of upfront effort and investment in order for carefree long-term use. As you might expect, concrete steps are extremely heavy and solid making them very hard to move and readjust. Once you put them in place, you are banking on there not being any reason to move them soon. This shouldn’t be a big problem for manufactured homeowners as these homes are rarely moved anyway.
In order to install concrete steps, the soil will need to be properly prepared so that the steps don’t shift or “settle” with time, making them go uneven. The biggest upside of concrete steps is that they are extremely durable and can last almost indefinitely. They are also usually easy to clean. However, most come without railings or balustrades that might need to be bought separately.
Concrete steps are also usually only viable for use as exterior steps.
Fiberglass is a fantastic option, particularly for exterior steps because they aren’t affected by weather, are easy to clean, and super lightweight. However, they are on average the most expensive type as well. These steps usually consist of an inner layer of wood that’s covered in fiberglass material.
There is a huge variety of products so you have to make sure that you buy one to suit your needs. Some might be a bit too lightweight, and therefore unstable, to be used comfortably as a long-term solution whereas others offer great stability.
You also get options that can fold, be assembled or disassembled easily, and come with different features like handrails.
Of course, plastic is completely weather-proof and resistant to just about anything else mother nature can throw at it. The biggest problem with plastic is that they vary greatly in quality as well as that they can often appear very cheap.
You also need to make sure that the steps you buy come with some kind of grit or pattern on the runners for grip as smooth plastic can be extremely slippery, especially when wet. Again, like fiberglass, they may not be an ideal permanent solution. However, they can be great for other uses where you need a bit of elevation as they are also lightweight.
What else to consider?
- Design: You will be able to choose from a wide variety of designs and styles when you set out. However, this can be limited a lot by what type of steps you choose. Wooden and metal steps usually have the best variety with ornate balustrades whereas fiberglass, plastic, and concrete will be plainer.
- How it fits in: You should consider how to fit the steps in with the rest of your home. In most cases, your steps will be at the same height as the home’s skirting. One solution is to use a material similar to, or the same material as, the skirting material on the sides of the steps or at least pick steps that match it.
- Accessibility: If you look for it, you’ll be able to find steps with accessibility features like extra secure handrails, shorter rises with longer runners or even a wheelchair ramp. If you have someone in your home, or that often visits your home, with special needs, this might be worth looking into.
- Landing: You will be able to choose between steps with either a small landing or that transition straight from your door to the steps. Steps with a short landing might be a bit safer to use and a bit more accessible.
Can you build your own?
Yes! Building steps would rate as one of the easier DIY home construction projects to take on. If you have a bit of experience working with power tools and carpentry/concrete pouring, you should be fine.
There are plenty of guides available online that you can follow to build your own small flight of steps or stairs. The cheapest and easiest DIY stairs to make would be wooden steps, with concrete being the hardest.
The good news is that you can find separate metal or wooden balustrades that you can attach to your steps if this is a bit beyond your skills.
Think about making additions to your home
Before you do anything permanent, like a set of concrete steps or stairs, think about the other possibilities. People are still often surprised to hear it but you can use this opportunity to make some useful or just plain, yet inviting, additions to your mobile home. We’ve created an article detailing three mobile home additions that you should consider.
Instead of putting steps directly at your exit doors, you could erect a porch/deck, sunroom or screen enclosure. These can then have steps leading down from them to the yard. If you build something permanent like concrete steps, you might find this hard to remove if you ever want to install something bigger.
Also, if you install a deck or porch, depending on whether you do it yourself or get a contractor, you could also buy steps or build them yourself. Lastly, you can think of implementing something unique and large-scale, like one of these special exterior stairways.
Check for options before you buy your mobile home
If you haven’t bought a mobile home just yet and you’re already thinking about what you can do in the way of steps, you might not have to look any further than your manufacturer. Most big mobile home manufacturers like Clayton Homes, Champion Homes, etc. provide customization options for their homes. Sometimes, this includes picking the specific steps or stairs that come with your home.
Be knowledgeable before you decide to make the big purchase!
And, that’s all you need to know when it comes to premade steps for mobile homes. Remember to try and find examples of what other people have done online before you make up your mind, there is always a wealth of interesting and exciting ideas, tips, and tricks that might surprise you. You might also want to tackle this as part of a larger mobile home exterior remodel. We’ve got a whole series to help you with this type of project.