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I'm planning stringers and deck landing for the deck I'm building, and will be laying some patio slabs to form the landing. When preparing the ground for the slabs, I will probably grade the ground to slope slightly away from deck (1/8 inch per foot, or about a 0.6 degree slope).

I'm not anchoring the stringers (or any part of the stairs or posts) to the landing, but will likely install some blocking between the stringers to prevent lateral movement of the stringers, and also to support the bottom railing posts. There will be no piers for the bottom posts either.

My concern is that if I cut the bottom of the stringers level, then they won't be flush with the landing, and that this will create issues when using the stairs (for example, when standing on the bottom steps, the wood may flex to fill in the gap so that it is temporarily flush with landing, which doesn't sound like a good thing from a safety, comfort, or structural integrity point of view). And if it doesn't flex, that sounds like a lot of stress on the stringers that could lead to a crack.

Yet in all the guides I've read and watched online, I never see anyone commenting on this nuance. Most people building concrete pads seem to grade them slightly away from deck, but don't talk about cutting stringers to match this grade.

Is this something I should take care of by cutting the bottom part of the stringer to match the grade of the landing?

If it's not something I should worry about, why not? 1/8" per foot means that if the base of the stringer is 10-12 inches long, then the stringer will be about 1/8" off the ground at the edge farthest away from deck.

Here's a somewhat exaggerated drawing illustrating the point:

enter image description here

I also just realized that if the deck itself was graded to match the ground, then the problem would take care of itself. But in my case, the deck is level (I'm planning on ensuring gaps between the deck boards to help prevent water pooling).

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    It usually looks nicer if it matches, plus spreading the support out evenly. The one thing to be concern with is if the the ground settles after, might need shims to pack both edges.
    – crip659
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:00
  • Thank you, that makes sense!
    – spacediver
    Nov 30, 2022 at 13:01
  • By the time you have 4x4 railing posts bolted to the sides of it, also resting on the ground... meh.
    – Mazura
    Nov 30, 2022 at 17:29
  • Mazura, would you instead recommend keeping the landing level to avoid these issues?
    – spacediver
    Nov 30, 2022 at 17:39
  • I wouldn't pitch a 3'x3' landing; only, make sure it crowns in the middle just a tiny bit. W/e it is, there can't be a dip.
    – Mazura
    Dec 2, 2022 at 1:27

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Yes, you should cut them in a perfect world. But, you're right that they aren't always done. This will provide a better footing and greatly reduce stress to the stringers' tips and resist slipping around as well.

Though, you can help the stringers' bottoms last longer by setting them into a color matching caulk/sealant and don't have to worry about a perfect cut or actual full mating.

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  • Thank you for the sanity check, and the suggestion!
    – spacediver
    Nov 30, 2022 at 19:59

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