How to Replace RV Steps
Posted: April 24, 2023
Categories: User Guides & Installations
How to Replace RV Steps
Your RV step is the very first and very last RV accessory you encounter at the beginning or end of your outdoor adventure. You should feel stable and supported while climbing in and out of your rig. So, if you aren’t happy with your current step, it might be time to upgrade!
In this post, we’ll walk you through the various things you should consider when buying replacement steps, how to measure for the right steps and how to replace RV steps. We’ll also answer common questions RVers have when replacing their steps and walk through step-by-step instructions for installing a new entry step on your rig.
To skip ahead to the various sections of this post, use the links below:
- Reasons to Replace RV Steps
- Shopping for Replacement RV Steps
- How to Measure for the Right Steps
- RV Entry Step Removal & Installation
- FAQs for RV Step Replacement
- The Solid Step® Difference
- How to Measure for a Solid Step
- How to Install a Lippert Solid Step
Let’s start with the many reasons why RVers choose to replace their RV entry steps!
Reasons to Replace RV Steps
If you’ve been RVing for a while, you probably know the various drawbacks that come with standard or traditional RV steps. Commonly compared with diving boards, standard RV steps tend to lack the stability, foot clearance and durability that RV owners need to feel safe going up and down their stairs.
1. Lack of Stability
Probably the most popular complaint from RV owners when it comes to their entry steps is the spongy or bouncy feeling they get when ascending or descending their stairs. This “diving board effect” is generally uncomfortable and can be especially troublesome for those with poor balance or limited mobility.
2. Poor Foot Clearance
Clearance on old, standard entry steps has always been an issue. When the entry door is open, you have very little clearance between the door threshold and the first step. This can make getting in and out of the RV tricky, especially in the dark.
On most triple steps the first tread is anywhere between 8-1/4 - 9-1/4 inches deep. That's less than one foot of landing space to step on when exiting the trailer. The total reach, or distance from the threshold to the last step, is roughly 26 inches for the old-style triple step. This makes getting up and down the stairs a bit of a chore for those without the best balance.
3. Susceptibility to Rust
Another common complaint is the step’s likely ability to rust, which will eventually make the step difficult to deploy and retract. Because these old-style steps are stored underneath the RV when in transit, they are open to any and every element that Mother Nature throws at them.
4. Original Equipment RV Steps Not Working
Lippert is the home to many steps that come as original equipment on new RVs, including the popular Kwikee steps. Depending on the problem you’re having, you might be able to fix them with RV step replacement parts, covert them with a Kwikee step motor or totally replace them.
Shopping for Replacement RV Steps
So, how do you go about finding the best RV steps to suit your specific needs? First, you need to know the upgrade options available for your trailer.
Types of RV Steps
Steps for campers like travel trailers and 5th wheels basically fall into two categories: portable vs. permanent and manual vs. automatic.
Portable vs. Permanent RV Steps
Portable steps do not require permanent installation on your unit. You can simply get them out to use them at your convenience, then pack them up for storage again. Permanent steps require mounting hardware and are – you guessed it – permanently installed into your doorway. That doesn’t mean you can’t switch them out, though!
Modern RVers, and especially full-timers, tend to like steps that are permanently installed on their rigs. These types of steps add convenience to your setup because they live in or around the doorway and are always ready to be deployed or stowed.
Electric vs. Manual RV Steps
Permanent RV steps can be further categorized as electric or manual. Manual RV steps come in a variety of different sizes and configurations. They are made to be manually folded out by the user and are bolted into the RV doorway.
Electric RV steps take away the exertion that may come with manual control. With the flip of a switch or push of a button, electric steps automatically extend and retract when the user is ready to use them or put them away. Like their manual counterparts, these steps also come in a variety of different sizes and configurations.
Considerations for Purchasing Replacement RV Steps
By now, you probably have a good idea of the type of step you want. Now, you’ll need to look at a few more things to make sure your step choice is right for your needs.
Probably one of the more important considerations when buying a new step for your RV is the weight rating. Be sure to purchase a step that will hold at least 300-400 lbs. without bending or breaking. In many cases, this will hold the weight of two adults at one time.
If you’re looking for a long-lasting, heavy-duty step that will be able to withstand prolonged use and tough weather conditions, you’ll want to look for steel construction with a powder coat finish.
Stability is key for getting in and out of your RV comfortably. You want to feel like you always have solid footing. Especially when you’re parked on uneven ground, steps with adjustable legs and feet can be game-changers when it comes to balance and proper support.
You get what you pay for! Replacing RV steps may seem like an expensive upgrade if you’re looking for something that provides stability and strength. However, you should keep in mind that, especially if you’re RVing full-time, you use your steps at the beginning and end of every adventure. This is an RV accessory that you want to be happy with long-term!
How to Measure for the Right Steps
Okay, now you’re ready to buy. But first, you need to take the correct measurements to ensure you get the right step for your rig. Nothing will spoil your new upgrade faster than opening the box to discover you bought the wrong thing! Use the following steps so that you can be a happy camper from unboxing to the finished install.
Note: These instructions are general. Different types of steps may require more or fewer measurements, depending on their configuration and how they attach to your RV.
Measure Step Width & Height
Start by measuring the width of your current overall step assembly. Then, measure the height from step to step, or the “rise,” which is the distance between each step in the assembly.
Measure Diagonal Length
To get the length of your step, you’ll need to measure from the center of the step assembly at the crossbar diagonally down to the edge of the last step.
Measure Height from the Ground
Next, you’ll need to measure the height from the ground to your entry door threshold. This height measurement will determine what kind of configuration (double, triple or quad) your new RV steps need to be, assuming you’re going with a fold-down model.
This measurement should be done at tow height and on a level surface. If your jacks are deployed or the ground is not level, the ground to threshold measurement could produce inaccurate numbers. If you order steps that are too long, then park at campgrounds that have a concrete slab next to the RV parking spot (where the RV is on gravel and sits lower than the slab), the steps contact the slab and do not allow the entry door to shut. The same is true at some campgrounds where the ground slopes up on the curbside.
Measure Threshold Width
Lastly, measure from inside edge to inside edge of your entry door frame, then round up to the nearest even number. This will determine whether you need a standard or wide step assembly.
Jump to the “How to Measure for a Solid Step” section of this blog to get a more in-depth look at the previous two measurements.
RV Entry Step Removal & Installation
Alright, you have your new step in-hand and you’re ready to install! Generally speaking, you can follow the steps in the procedure below using just a few tools and the help of a partner.
Please note: These instructions are general. Different types of steps may require a few more tasks. It’s always a good idea to consult the instructions provided with your new step assembly.
- Uninstall your existing step assembly. To do this, find the bolts that attach the assembly to your RV. Loosen them with a screw gun, then lift the steps up and out of your doorway.
- Unbox your new RV steps and properly position the assembly in your doorway. While one person holds the step assembly, the other should use the provided fittings to secure the new steps to the RV.
As you can see, this is a fairly easy DIY project. However, if you don’t feel comfortable drilling into your unit, you should seek the help of a professional at your local dealer. If you’re looking for instructions on how to install the Lippert Solid Step specifically, jump down the section below titled, “How to Install a Lippert Solid Step.”
FAQs for Replacing RV Steps
If you have additional questions about RV step replacement, you’re not alone! Take a look at the below answers to questions that RVers commonly ask when looking for a step replacement.
How much does it cost to replace RV steps?
There are a lot of different factors that make up the cost of replacement RV entry steps. While the cost hinges mostly on the configuration that fits your trailer and your needs, new steps can run between $300 and $800. If you’re doing the step replacement yourself, you can save a little money on the installation. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with that type of work, you will have to pay a bit more to account for the cost of a professional installation at a local dealer.
Are all RV steps replaceable?
While technically, all steps are replaceable, that shouldn’t be confused with “interchangeable.” If your current step is broken and you need a replacement, or if you want to switch from manual to electric or vice versa, you can certainly do that with a replacement job.
However, some aftermarket steps weren’t necessarily made for motorhomes. Fold-up style steps are a hazard for motorhomes because they block off the exits, which will cause major issues in an emergency. Motorhomes also tend to sit much lower to the ground than travel trailers or 5th wheels, so some aftermarket steps would be far too long to properly fit on a motorhome.
What is the standard RV step size?
These measurements can vary based on brand and stair type, but standard RV steps are usually between 25 and 36 inches wide.
The Solid Step® Difference
Engineered to make life on the road safe, convenient and simple, the Solid Step by Lippert is the upgrade your RV needs before you embark on your next journey. The Solid Step comes in two, three and four step configurations, making it possible to upgrade the entry step on a variety of 5th wheel RVs and travel trailers.
- Starting At $282.95Lippert Solid Step® Premium RV Steps - Double
- Starting At $362.95Lippert Solid Step® Premium RV Steps - Triple
- Starting At $441.95Lippert Solid Step® Premium RV Steps - Quad
More Foot Clearance
If you remember from earlier in this post, a common complaint that RVers make about their RV steps is the foot clearance. The Solid Step has an extra-large top step, which measures 13 inches deep. This makes entering and exiting the RV easier than ever, especially in the dark or when carrying items in or out of the RV.
The Solid Step also improves upon the total step reach, or distance from the entry door to the last step. The Solid Step reach is a maximum of 23 inches for a double step, 31 inches for a triple step and 40 inches for a quad step. This improved distance allows for a more natural climbing and descending motion.
Stays Parallel to Ground
The Solid Step tackles the stability issue with flying colors. Using the two adjustable foot pads, you can laterally level the step. Just release the pin and ease the foot pads down to the desired level. This feature allows the steps to stay parallel to the ground reducing the risk of slipping or falling during use. Since the Solid Step is grounded, the bouncing and sponginess is now eliminated. Best of all, the Solid Step extendable legs lay behind the bottom step, so there are no tripping hazards.
No Bounce Design
The Solid Step is sturdy. It has an extra-wide 13" top step for easy entry and exit and is rated at a 400-lb capacity. What might be considered the most improved feature over traditional RV steps is the Solid Step’s “no bounce” design. Even on sloped or uneven ground, the Solid Step’s adjustable legs can be extended to reach ground level, providing safety and stability in a way that no other RV entry step has done before. Entering and exiting your RV is as stable as ever, and gone are the days of the wobbly, bouncy bottom step!
Resistant to Rust
Because the Solid Step is stored inside the trailer and not underneath the floor, it's protected from the elements during travel. This addresses the common issue that RVers have with their stairs rusting. The Solid Step design permits the step to stow inside of the entry door, keeping road debris and corrosion away while simultaneously permitting continuous skirt metal on the RV, enhancing the aesthetics of the coach.
Easy to Use
Deploying and storing the Solid Step is simple. Just operate the easy-to-grab handle, which unlatches the step from the door to the lower step. Raise the step back to the doorframe and use the grab handle to lock the step back into place.
Full Threshold Panel
Other advantages of the Solid Step over the competition include a full threshold panel behind the top step, which protects the trailer sidewall and skirt from damage. The Solid Step kit also features a floor backing plate, which ensures that the step is securely installed on those RVs without the proper floor support underneath the door threshold. Mounting screws are provided for either wood or laminate floor applications depending on the needs of each RV.
Solid Step Accessories
BONUS! The Solid Step also has a range of premium RV step accessories and add-ons, so your step can be customized exactly how you like it.
Lift Assist Kit
This gas-strut system makes your Solid Step assembly virtually weightless — making it easier for campers of all ages and abilities to use and store your steps.
Entry Assist Handrail
This easy-to-install handrail attaches directly to your Solid Step and stores right with your stairs.
This storage box can be mounted onto the chassis of the trailer under the Solid Step assembly. The pre-assembled storage box is made of powder-coated steel, has a sealed lock and two keys.
All-Weather Floor Tray
Designed to store shoes, camping gear and even pet dishes, this floor tray can withstand the rigors of the RV lifestyle and is made specifically to catch the debris from your Solid Step inside your doorway during storage.
How to Measure for a Solid Step
Two quick measurements are all you’ll have to take to find the right Solid Step for your RV.
Measure the height from the ground to your entry door threshold.
22" - 28" height = Solid Step Premium Double
27" - 36" height = Solid Step Premium Triple
34" - 44" height = Solid Step Premium Quad
Measure inside edge to inside edge of your entry door frame — rounding up to the nearest even number. This will determine if you need the 26" or 30" Solid Step assembly.
25" - 28.9" entry width = 26" Solid Step
29" - 36" entry width = 30" Solid Step
Solid Step Sizing Guide
|Tread Count||Floor Height||Entry Width
(Frame to Frame)
|2||22" - 28"||25" - 28.9"||26", 28"||733931||26" PREMIUM DOUBLE SOLID STEP|
|29" - 36"||30", 32", 34"||733932||30" PREMIUM DOUBLE SOLID STEP|
|3||27" - 36"||25" - 28.9"||26", 28"||791572||26" PREMIUM TRIPLE SOLID STEP|
|29" - 36"||30", 32", 34"||791573||30" PREMIUM TRIPLE SOLID STEP|
|4||35" - 44"||25" - 28.9"||26", 28"||791574||26" PREMIUM QUAD SOLID STEP|
|29" - 36"||30", 32", 34"||791575||30" PREMIUM QUAD SOLID STEP|
How to Install a Lippert Solid Step
Ready to install your Solid Step? Follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to replace your current RV steps with a Solid Step.
Prior to installation
Grab the following list of tools before you start:
- Cordless or electric drill or screw gun
- Tape measure
- Appropriate drive bit
- 5/32" drill bit (for #10 wood screws)
- 13/64" drill bit (for #10 bolts)
- The help of another person
You’ll also want to verify that the trailer is on level ground and that the floor of the trailer has sufficient backing material for securing the Solid Step. If uncertain, check with the trailer’s manufacturer for backing material and its location or use the backer plate and fasteners provided.
If the trailer floor has a step threshold transition piece, it should be removed now as well.
1. With the step extended in the down position, place the Solid Step assembly inside the doorframe. Before installing any fasteners, make sure that the step is properly leveled so the threshold of the step rests firmly on top and in front of the aluminum doorframe threshold, without any gap between them. The rear of the step wall should be approximately parallel with the trailer’s sidewall in this position.
2. Verify with a tape measure that the assembly is centered in the doorframe. Measure from frame to frame.
3. With the step assembly still in the extended position, install two fasteners. Most trailers use flooring construction that is sufficiently strong to support a Solid Step with a simple wood screw installation. Generally, if the flooring contains a wood subfloor thickness of at least 1/2", Method A may be used. If unsure of your subfloor thickness, or are otherwise aware that the floor has a foam-laminated core construction and only a thin wood subfloor (sometimes used for weight savings), then Method B should be used. This optional installation method connects the Solid Step hinge plate to a strong steel backing plate, which gets placed underneath the floor to ensure maximum floor support.
a. For wood flooring, drill pilot hole using the 5/32" drill bit and install two #10-1-1/2" wood screws into the mounting plate via the two access holes located in the top of the mounting plate.
b. For laminate flooring, drill two holes straight down with the 13/64" drill bit via the access holes located in the top of the mounting plate. Insert two #10-4" bolts into the mounting plate, through the floor and through the backer plate. Secure with the plain washers, lock washers and the nuts provided.
4. Once the two fasteners are secure, carefully lift the step assembly into the upright, stored position. If the latching mechanism doesn’t engage, it will need to be adjusted to operate properly. Have one person hold the step assembly from inside the trailer.
5. Once the two fasteners are inserted, carefully lift the step assembly into the upright, stored position. If the latching mechanism doesn't engage, it will need to be adjusted to operate properly. Have one person hold the step assembly from inside the trailer. Do not attempt to lock the step in place, as the latching mechanism may need to be adjusted to the proper left-right orientation and tightened in position before using the transport lock. Attempting to engage the transport lock without proper adjustment may cause damage to the doorframe or step assembly.
6. If adjustment is required, loosen the two bolts on both sides of the transport lock. This allows for adjustment from side-to-side in the latch mechanism.
7. Once the latch mechanism is in the correct position, tighten the bolts. Do not overtighten the bolts! Overtightening may damage the threads or cause the bolt heads to break off.
8. Once the transport lock has been adjusted, test its functionality by shaking the step assembly to simulate road vibration.
9. Engage and disengage the transport lock to ensure the latch flanges do not scrape against the doorframe.
10. After adjusting the transport lock and with the step assembly in the upright stored position, secure the hinge plate to the floor of the trailer using the additional fasteners provided.
a. For wood flooring, drill pilot holes using the 5/32" drill bit and install eight #10 - 13 x 1 1/4" wood screws into the mounting plate via the eight remaining access holes located on the hinge plate.
b. For laminate flooring, drill eight holes straight down with the 13/64" drill bit via the eight remaining access holes located in the top of the hinge plate. Insert eight #10 - 24 x 4" bolts into the hinge plate through the floor, through the backer plate, and secure with #10 washers, #10 lock washers and #10 - 24 nuts.
11. If necessary, use the horizontal slots to make additional small adjustments to the step assembly positioning in the doorway.
12. If a backer plate is being used, apply silicone sealant around the holes.
13. Extend the step assembly.
14. Insert the two provided caps to cover the access holes in the mounting plate.
Congratulations! Your Solid Step installation is complete. Now, all that’s left to do is use your new stairs.
Release the Steps
- Disengage the transport lock.
- Firmly grasp and pull out the vertically stored Solid Step and firmly rest it on the ground.
- Adjust leg extensions as needed.
Secure the Steps
- Retract the leg extensions.
- Lift the Solid Step up to its stored position and make sure the transport lock has been engaged.
Leg Extension Adjustment
The leg extension is secured with a quick release clevis pin. Adjustments can be made to the leg extensions in 1" increments by extending or retracting the inner leg for the optimal angle and to adjust for the ground surface angle.
To extend the inner leg:
- Remove the quick release clevis pin from the tube and the slot in the angle.
- Extend the inner leg to the ground and at an angle so the steps are parallel to the ground and level.
- Reinsert the quick release clevis pin into the tube and slot closest to where the inner leg and tube meet.
To retract the inner leg:
- Remove the quick release clevis pin from the tube and slot.
- Retract the inner leg.
- Reinsert the quick release clevis pin in the tube and slot.
Solid Step Installation & Owner's Manual
Download the full Solid Step installation and owner’s manual for more information or visit support.lci1.com/steps for additional entry step support documentation.