Everything You Need to Know About Purchasing RV Steps

Last updated on February 17th, 2020 at 06:43 pm. Originally published on February 16th, 2020

If you ask us, one of the most underrated RV accessories is also one of the very first you encounter when entering your RV: RV steps! Without a great set of RV or motorhome steps, getting in and out of your motorhome comfortably can be a difficult task. You might even hurt your knees or have an accident. There are plenty of options to make it easy, too, including electric RV steps, folding RV steps, and a variety of awesome accessories to make them even better, like RV step lights, RV step rugs, RV step carpet and so much more.

With so many options, choosing the right steps for your RV can seem like a daunting task — not to mention figuring out how to install them, or just measure them to make sure you have the right fit. Fortunately, we’re taken a deep dive into all the things you didn’t know you needed to know about RV steps so you can shop, install, and step in confidence. Here’s what you need to know!

Different Types of RV Steps

First, it’s important to decide if you’d like to utilize portable RV steps or permanently installed RV steps. The difference is within the name! Installed RV steps are, as the name implies, permanently installed and always a part of your motorhome, whereas portable steps can be folded up and stored and are simply assembled nearby your motorhome or travel trailer as needed.

A majority of modern RV owners want permanently installed RV steps on their rigs. Of this type, there are two subtypes to choose from: manual RV steps and automatic steps for your RV.

Image via Amazon

Manual RV steps, also known as an “RV add a step,” are one of the most versatile options. They resemble a small ladder and typically have hinges which makes it easy to add or remove steps. Manual RV steps are attached to the RV by being framed, bolted or welded to the door. To operate them, you simply fold them out manually — just like the name implies!

Image via Amazon

Electric RV steps, on the other hand, never even needs to be touched – they automatically retract and open with the push of a button or flip of a switch. Part of these include an RV electric step motor, which lets them open immediately when the RV door opens.

These types of RV steps are also welded to the frame or bolted to the door of your RV. The Kwikee RV step is one of the most popular brands of electric RV steps, and they are operated by an electrical switch inside the RV. Both manual and electric RV steps can be installed by a professional or as a DIY project.

What are the Best RV Steps?

Now that we’ve parsed the difference between manual and electric RV fold out steps, you may still be wondering how to determine which type is best for your needs.

It all comes down to personal preference — and how much work you want to do (or have done) to your RV to get them working.

For instance, manual RV folding steps are pretty simple affairs; you just attach them to the frame of your rig and boom, you’re done. Electric RV folding steps, on the other hand, take a bit of wiring to get working. They’re also considerably more expensive than manual steps are, and that’s before factoring in installation.

Along with the RV steps themselves, you may also want to consider adding in an RV step light to help illuminate your way into your vehicle, or RV step carpeting or rugs to help increase grip and keep you from tracking mud or dirt into your rig on your shoes.

Now, let’s switch gears and talk a little bit more about the available types of portable RV steps!

Benefits & Features of Portable RV Steps

Portable RV steps don’t need to be installed and are typically more affordable than electric steps. When not in use, they can be folded up (in some cases) and stored away. There are several types of portable RV steps, including:

Adjustable-leg RV platform step, which is made of aluminum alloy with adjustable legs that are slip-proof.

A folding RV step, which is the most cost-effective, hassle-free option for an RV step. These types of steps resemble a stool, and can be unfolded for use and folded back up for storage. They typically have two handles and are easy to store when not in use.

Porch-style steps with handrails are a very sturdy option for RV steps, and have handrails on either side. They’re an excellent choice if you’ll have young children or elderly adults visiting your RV.

Solid plastic box steps have no moving parts, and are made from a solid piece of durable and high-quality plastic. They are typically available in 2-step and 3-step models, for whatever option works best for your RV.

RV Steps: Pricing

We’ve laid out all the various different kinds of RV steps out there! But hold on a second. What is this project going to set you back?

As an RV owner, you’re probably no stranger to the fact that RV repairs and upgrades are, well, not cheap. But when it comes to RV steps in particular, the prices range considerably depending on what you’re getting.

For instance, a set of manual, permanently installed RV steps might cost less than $100, or right around that price. An electric set, on the other hand, might run you closer to $500 or more before installation.

And portable RV steps also come at a wide range of price points; for instance, if you’re just getting a simple stool, you might spend as little as $60 or so, whereas a porch-style step with handrails might cost you more on the order of $350 or more.

As in all things RVing, it’s a good idea to shop around and see what’s out there before you commit to a purchase decision. That way, you’ll get the best deal on your RV steps — and save money for the real fun and adventures!

What to Look For When Buying RV Steps

What should you look for when buying RV steps?

Well, along with a great deal, you also want to look for high quality materials and a setup that’s in good, working order. It’s easy to buy things online these days, but if you get a chance to shop for your steps in person, you’ll be able to see the workmanship for yourself and ensure the product is free of rust or any other obvious physical problems.

Keep in mind that RV steps are only one of the many RV parts and accessories that can make or break your RV camping experience. For more information on everything from sofa beds to water pressure regulators, click here to browse our RV parts and accessories blog category.

RV Steps: FAQs

Let’s finish out our article on RV steps with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this important RV accessory!

How do you measure RV steps?

If you need to replace your RV steps — or just install some in the first place — you’ll want to start by measuring the steps to ensure the right fit. The exact number of measurements you’ll need to take, and where they come from, depends on which model of step you choose; but in general, you’ll need the overall width of the setup, the height from step to step, and the diagonal length of your step from the crossbar to the bottom. (Check out this guide from etrailer for a detailed schematic on what kind of measurements you’ll need.)

How do you replace RV steps?

To replace your RV steps, you’ll first need to uninstall any steps that are already in place. Find the bolts that attach them to your rig and unscrew them to lift the steps off so you can install the new ones.

Then, place your new RV steps into the same location and utilize the appropriate fittings to secure it to your rig. Always be sure to follow any instructions included with your specific set of RV steps.

How do you install RV steps?

Although the exact instructions for installing RV steps will vary depending on what steps you have, the basic process is essentially the same. With portable RV steps, you won’t permanently install them, but rather use them as they’re needed.

How wide are RV steps?

The width of RV steps varies by brand and stair type, but they generally tend to be between 20 and 36 inches wide.

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