Thursday, April 25, 2013

Outdoor Steps

My favorite thing about working on the house is delving into challenges that I've never done before. This landscape project has all sorts of new adventures lying in wait. The first one is building concrete steps. I've done concrete bases for posts, slabs and plenty of other general concrete work but never steps.

This task actually started last summer but more fun things to do in the sun distracted me and I abandoned all form building practices.

The original steps. You can't see in this blurry picture but they're in bad shape with a major crack. Sledge hammer lying in wait.

Fortunately, these were built poorly so demolition didn't take long.

It was a pile of rubble in minutes.

I laid out the new step shape with rope.

I pre-cut the stone pieces and shaped them on a 4x8 plywood. The steps acutally ended up being slightly different but this still helped.

After realizing I couldn't pound wood stakes in the ground, I discovered metal stakes with holes to attach the wood to.
Getting there with bendable but weak plywood.

After finding 1/4" plywood that would bend but not break, my forms were completed.

I added 3/4" minus gravel up to 4" below the top of the forms and a few inches at the face of the step.
My orange buddy for the concrete mixing process which saved hours of manual concrete mixing.

Adding rebar to the top step.

I used 20 bags and was only about 1/4" shy of the top of the forms.

Done with the concrete pour
And from the other side.

After a couple of days, the forms are pulled off.

In mid stone install, using white polymer thin set. The challenge was the different thickness of travertine patio stone which ranged from 3/4" to 1 1/4"
Complete with the stone setting.

After a day, I add the grout. I completed this at 9pm in the dark, literally feeling my way around to make sure the grout was set in place. This made for some surprises the next morning!

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