Introduction: Dog Stairs for Bed (take 1)

I have 3 senior dogs.  They're all allowed in my bed, but they're starting to have trouble getting in.  One has hurt herself recently; I thought she had decided not to try to join me in bed anymore, but after about a month she started trying to jump up again.  She can't.  So I made her a set of stairs.

As you'll see, my first attempt didn't work out for her, but it did make quite a nice set of stairs.  It's just too steep in its current configuration.  Take 2 will involve dismantling this project to see if I can find another solution that does work for her.

This particular set of steps is made to rest on the bed frame.  This way it takes up minimal amounts of space in a pretty small bedroom.  I wanted something very lightweight, since I can't carry much that's heavy.  It's also relatively inexpensive, and was quite easy to make.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

* 2 stair stringers (~$5/each) -- for the side of the stairs
* 1 1"x8"x10' board, cut into 18" pieces (~$10) -- for steps
* box of 1 1/2" screws (~$5)

Optional supplies:
* a piece of pipe insulation; this piece is 1/2" rubber insulation, but it's expensive (~$6).  could possibly use just regular insulation, about 1/4 the cost -- for padding the underside
* piece of runner carpet, 2'x6' (again, I got a somewhat expensive piece at $12, could be much cheaper) -- for traction on the steps

* Drill
* Staplegun
* Measuring tape
* Pencil
* I had them precut my board at the store, but you might need a saw.

Step 2: Choosing the Layout

These steps were designed to rest over the bed frame, with a board that holds the steps in place.  My bed frame is 21" off the floor.  I had two options: low, or high. 

The low option--the way the stringers are designed to be used--would not be high enough.  The tall option would be just about right.  So I selected 1"x8" steps (to match the width of the available space) and prepared to make tall steps.

Step 3: Construction

I started by attaching one board across the center step.  There was about an inch of overhang on each step.

Then I made sure everything was square, and attached a second board across the bottom step.

I attached a board across the back for stability.

Step 4: Construction

I attached a board across the back, the one that will be used to hang over the bed frame.  I measured to make sure it was attached an even distance from the top on both sides.

Then I squared things up and attached the top step, using the same amount of overhang the other steps had.

At this point, it could be considered done.  If you had a metal framed bed or didn't care about padding against the frame, you wouldn't need to do any more to make it usable.  The carpet (next step) adds traction, but may not be necessary.

Step 5: Carpeting

I laid the carpet across the steps, evened it up, and started stapling it on from the bottom to the top.  I wrapped it around the bottom to provide a little padding for my bedroom carpet.

First I attached it across the front face.

Then I went back, folded it over on the side, and stapled it down.

I had to cut it to allow it to fold in some places.

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A note as I get started on Take 2: Boy, I put a LOT of staples in this thing.  I would have been better off putting in just enough to secure it, then making sure that the dog could use it.  I did not want to have her try it without the carpeting, as she's old and her hind end coordination is iffy; I definitely wanted the security/traction of the carpet.  But I would still have been better off not using QUITE so many staples. 

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Step 6: Padding

I cut approximately 1' pieces of pipe insulation and attached them to the back of the stringers.  I did use the staplegun, but I'm not sure it actually did anything.  This insulation is very soft and rubbery; I think the staples just went right through it.  The insulation has a self-stick edge, and that seems to be doing all the securing.

After each side was padded, I also cut a piece about 22" inches long and stuck it across the board on the back.

Step 7: Finished!

And that's the end of it!

Except for two things:  The insulation padding did add more height than I realized it would.  I thought it would be more compressible.  Instead, it props the steps up about an extra inch.  (Possibly cheaper pipe insulation would compress better.)  I made up for this by sticking a board underneath it to level it out, but it's not a good enough solution.  What it needs is a bed frame that's about 2" lower--or for me to take the board off the back, insert a spacer, and put it back together. 

However, in its current configuration, the dog who really needs it can't use it.  Her hips are too iffy.  She can't climb them this steep.  So I have to take it apart and put it back together in a lower configuration.  Coming up next: dog steps take 2.

One additional bit of finishing detail: I could have spray-painted the stringers a color that would match the carpet.  That would make it look slightly more polished.