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How Stairs and Steps Work

Installing Stairs and Steps
Installation of some types of stairs, like the folding stairs that lead into this RV, should be handled by a professional, in most cases.
Installation of some types of stairs, like the folding stairs that lead into this RV, should be handled by a professional, in most cases.
Dan Driedger/iStockphoto

Adding stairs or steps to your trailer or RV may be easier than you think. Most trailer supply stores have a wide selection available for you to choose from, so there are plenty of options. If you search long enough, you'll probably find just what you're looking for. These are just a few examples of the countless choices that you may find:

  • A small metal footstool -- not attached to the vehicle -- simply pick it up and stow it when it's not in use
  • A single foot-step pad -- usually bolted in place -- folds down from a vertical surface to provide a single, relatively small step surface
  • Retractable steps -- usually bolted or welded in place -- these sometimes resemble a small ladder with two or three rungs
  • Electric steps - usually bolted or welded in place -- these steps unfold from beneath the trailer or vehicle at the push of a button, or the flip of a switch


As you may have noticed, unless you're going with one of the options that don't attach to the trailer or RV, the stairs and steps have to be secured to the vehicle. For a lot of trailer owners, this is what usually determines if the stairs that you select are a do-it-yourself project or not.

If you're installing stairs that require you to bolt them to the trailer or RV, most owners opt to tackle the project themselves. Depending on the specific type of stairs or steps selected, the job will likely require a lot of careful planning, measuring and drilling. There's a good deal of satisfaction in completing a project like this -- but that satisfaction only comes if you handle the project properly. You'll need to make the appropriate stair or step selection, take the time to carefully read the instructions provided by the manufacturer, measure everything carefully and use the proper hardware. If you do all of this correctly, there's a good chance that your project will be a success.

On the other hand, there are times when installing steps and stairs may not fall within the capabilities of the typical do-it-yourself mechanic. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Welding stairs to the frame of a trailer or RV in your own garage or driveway isn't something that most people are prepared to do -- or even capable of. If you add figuring out the electrical connections and motor placement for the push button-operated folding stairs mentioned earlier, even some of the hardy souls that were up for the welding may drop out at that point. If you instinctively feel that you should leave the installation up to a professional, you should do so. However, if you feel that you're up to the challenge, maybe you should give it a shot -- it all depends on your level of comfort.

To read more about towing, stairs and steps and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.