Outdoor concrete stairs are a great way to give your yard a finished look. They are also very durable and can withstand the elements. But it is important to plan and build the steps well before you pour your concrete.
First, you need to determine the size of your stairs and then figure out how many risers are needed to span them. This can be tricky, so make a diagram to help you with this task.
Next, you need to decide how you want the stairs to be constructed and what materials you will use for the form. You can use a variety of materials to build your steps, including plywood, 2x8s or 2x6s.
If you choose to build your forms from wood, cut pieces that are the same dimensions as your steps. You’ll need a board for each riser and two boards for the stringers (one for each side of your stair form).
Once you have your form in place, level it using a builders level or laser level. You’ll also need to set it so that it pitches slightly away from the house. This will allow water to run off and not puddle on the step.
Alternatively, you can use a rubber form liner for the steps. These are typically 1 to 2 inches thick and come in a range of heights and lengths. Some have a rock-face edge that gives them a natural broken-stone look. They are usually fastened to the form with screws and are reusable.
Another option is to drive vertical lengths of rebar into the ground and embed these bars with concrete “stakes” embedded in them. These rebar stakes will keep the concrete from shifting and will also provide added stability for your steps.
Then, you need to lay a sub-base of granular fill beneath the steps and tamp it down until it’s packed extremely firm and stable. This is a necessary precaution to prevent the concrete from shifting in the ground or deteriorating.
Installing the Stairs
Now that you’ve got your sub-base in place, it’s time to get started building your concrete steps. If you’re not sure what size your steps will be, check with your local building codes to make sure that you can comply with them.
Once your steps are built, you can start pouring your concrete. Depending on your climate, you may want to add a layer of Styrofoam to the base of the steps before pouring the concrete. This will help prevent frost from getting under the stairs and causing them to move up and down.
You’ll also need to dig out the area where you plan to place your concrete stairs. This is to clear away any rocks, trees or grass that could interfere with your pouring process and provide a level, flat surface for the concrete to rest upon.
After you’ve finished digging, lay down the concrete, and then finish it with a trowel and edging tools. You can then pour a second coat of concrete over the tops of the steps to smooth them out.