Steps/decks $$$

Steps are one of our most expensive items in a home install. $600 each door for 4 risers plus deck (compliant). Anyone have a less costly design or ideas?

i have the same problem. we are able to build them a little cheaper than 600, but i even looked into ordering them through blevins, and they really aren’t any cheaper.


I have been using a 2’ or 3’ landing when lot configuration permits. Lumber prices have dropped recently.

I buy from a mobile home supply place in North Houston called Atlas mobile home supply of Texas. medium size steps usually around $100 or less and for a larger set with about a 3-4ft deck on top is less than $250 all with handrails. They also sell the fiberglass steps with aluminum hand rail for around $150. I never build a big deck, I just have a nice set of steps and if they want to build a deck, as long as we approve of the design then can build it.

The decks for our rental mobiles are kept to a reasonable min. size and we built most ourselves or hire a handyman. Our code requires a 4x4 platform if the door opens out but even for those that don’t, I tend to build a 4x4 platform and run the step parallel to the house which allows us to use only one railing. Pickets have to be less than 4 inches a part. The darn pickets are a cost that is way out of proportion in my opinion.

The main deck we build as reasonable as the site allows. I like one deck that is wide enough to allow tenants to move furniture in (and if necessary, for me to move it out) without much trouble.

Each deck seems to be slightly different from another due mostly to our mountain terrain. I like the 7 x 5 style that seems to fit the space and furniture clearance I prefer.

We buy regular house doors to install when we can. They are metal doors and if purchased at supply houses run about $80. These are bigger than mobile home doors so it takes some time to install but once done, they do not get damaged.

I also like very wide steps with 3 stringers. we build the steps just under 4 feet wide. This again allows tenants and us to move furniture and appliances in and out with ease (remember I work alone much of the time so hauling fridges and stoves up narrow steps is killer).


Tony, reading your post sparked a thought in my tiny little mind: my building code requires “intermediates” be spaced < 4" - that would be the pickets.

Why couldnt one use vinyl lattice? That’s under $20 for a 4’x8’, and cheaper than rot resistant pickets, and would do the job.

Would THAT fly for your code? Or has anyone had it pass, or similar, less expensive shortcuts?

I have seen this done and have talked about doing it but have not tried it yet or checked the code. The code has made some changes recently, for example we have to have, what I refer to as “kick plates” boards that enclose each step (as if you would kick this board with your toes on each step).

I suspect that the wording would likely allow this if it were secured by 2x4 supports cross bracing the lattice. We already install a tope rail and bottom rail so it would only be one more 2x4.

One thing that we have adopted is we install our pickets on the INSIDE of the rail which seems contrary to how I see most decks built. I find that this kids etc. from kicking the pickets out and seems to even provide better stability on the hand rails as we essentially lace the pickets between boards (sandwhiching them) in between (from bottom up) nailed to step, 2x4 rail, top rail.

We had one real high, narrow deck that pickets kept getting kicked off or would warp and come off. Due to the height it made it a bit of a pain to replace. I find that our style really looks better and lasts better for these homes.

If the lattice works out it might save both time and money but we would attach it the same as above.


I have had problems securing PVC lattice to wood in the past. The lattice needs to expand and contract yet screws/nails do not allow any sort of movement. This has caused the lattice to crack and come apart. I’m curious as to whether or not anyone else has had this problem.


I was referring to vinyl lattice; cracking? Never seen it. If you need a solution to this with wood lattice, all I can imagine, with my limited imaginer, is to predrill a hole with room for expansion, or a slot via a series of adjacent holes, like vinyl skirting rails. Use a washer for each fastener if necessary, depending on your judgment on the size of your hole necessary for expansion versus the size of the fastener head.

Unless, of course, t know the difference between their head and their hole . . .


(BTW, this is a serious suggestion, but at the end, the punch line just kind of presented itself!!)

I have not priced the lattice yet but will be building a 4x4 deck and steps on monday. I will look into the pricing but the lattice I was thinking of was the wooded lattice that comes in different thicknesses. I will have to compare this to the price of pickets. I suspect that it would defn save some times.

There are some wholesale type supply yards around where I have seen piles of pickets and may also look for lattice.

Some of the savings on decks may have to come in the form of supply house pricing such as these.

I tend to overbuild these small decks anyways. These things get quite a bit of use and are supporting not only the coming and goings of some larger people but they furniture and appliances.


I also tend to overbuild things. I just built a ramp for a tenant, over $800 in material alone. I found 3/4" x 6" x 6’ pt fence slats at Lowe’s for $2.39 why not use these for the pickets? Cheaper than precut pickets and less work to install. I also purchased the “keystone” brand pt decks/steps from Blevins, they are well built but expensive, they gave me some ideas though. I am going to do some garage engineering this week. And see if I can come up with a low cost, easy to build, sturdy, good looking, portable design. Stay tuned

This is something I also considered and may look into this monday by pricing the difference.

I always try and find multiple uses for wood so that I can keep a supply on the truck at all times.

For example, using 1x4 boards 8ft long and using table saw to make trim on site has saved me quite a bit. The trim so far has been very basic but I can see that with a little time I could get more and more fancy while using the same board.

I have been using these boards to make tresholds between laminate flooring and carpet or vinyl. I like this very much as I can make the threshold quite wide if necessary and adjust it to any height variation I need.

The 1x4 boards run about $1.49 each. Compare that to the cheapest trim and 1/4 round and you quickly see how making 3 or 4 pieces out of a $1.49 saves me big time. Compare that to a wide, wooden threshold and the numbers get real interesting.

Door molding and door frame repairs with the same boards. Or cut into 4 sections and use to hold up insulation and vapor barrier underneath the homes. The list goes on and on.

By using this technique I can keep the wood costs down.

I use 2x3’s for floor repair (support braces) since this is cheaper and does not effect the stength of the repair.

Luan has become the duct tape of panelling and repairs for me. Just about anything seems to find a repair use for luan for me.

Keeping several sheets of luan, a few sheets of plywood (I am now phasing this down as well), 2x3’s and 1x4’s allows me to fix most anything that comes up and manufacture it quickly and to the exact size I need without having to make several trips to Lowe’s or the mobile home supply store.


Tony, I am no where near where you are as far as volume, yet :-). But I see where a few basic pieces could save me trips to the store. My enclosed trailer is the next thing going in my shop for some axle work so I can register it. I just bought a portable table saw. I chose the Ridgid 2400 after reading lots of reviews and campairing myself. It is guaranteed for life, and fits under the hardcover in my pickup.


I’m into cheap trim myself.

For older homes we rip down 2 x 3s or 2 x 4s 3/8 wide by their 1 1/2 height. this gives you 6-7 8ft. pieces unless you buy studs which are cheaper but 3 inches shorter. We recently trimmed an entire 1974 home in this including windows and doors. We also ripped 1 x 4s in half and used them as “crown moulding” caulked and painted the same as the walls, it looks great.

I have a nice Bosch router table and lately have been re-creating matching drawer fronts (close enough anyway) and making my own trim like counter top mouldings out of leftover 1 x 4 pieces if it’s not too much footage (too time consuming).


Hey Steve,

I have looked into routering as well. Had an old table that won’t work, bought a new one without much research but the older router I had apparently won’t fit (my handyman was going to use it while I worked on another home).

I have just begun to fabricate our trim and other similar type needs on site. To be honest it is rather interesting and I do believe it will be something that I enjoy and do more of as time goes on.

For now I am just creating very basic trim so as to get homes up and running as quickly as possible. For example, trimming the floor after putting in laminate flooring.

My handyman created quite a bit of trim for the doublewide we moved in. The interior doorways where the two halves of the home marry was about 6 inches wide and along that seem there were not only the main arch between the living room and kitchen but 2 bedroom dorrways and a closet.

The ability to make the exact pieces needed in various sizes has proven cheaper although a bit more time intensive but again, when driving all over town several times looking for material in the big old truck I have can get expensive as well (I so love this truck).

The ability to create drawer fronts with a router would be excellent as it seems that most of our repo purchases are missing atleast one drawer.