Installing Granite Steps
Granite steps can really dress up the front of a home. Their natural look along with their ruggedness and low maintenance makes them an excellent alternative to other doorstep choices. A few years ba...
Granite steps can really dress up the front of a home. Their natural look along with their ruggedness and low maintenance makes them an excellent alternative to other doorstep choices.
A few years back I decided to replace the prefab concrete staircase that graced my home’s entranceway with granite steps.
Installing granite steps is not a home improvement project that do-it-yourself homeowners can normally do themselves. This said, there are some aspects of the project you can do yourself.
To begin the process of installing granite steps, start by finding a granite stone supplier that can come to your home and assess your project. They will listen to your ideas, make some measurements, and determine the number of steps you will need for the project. They will also state, as they did in my case, that the pre-fabricated concrete steps will need to be removed and that a solid footing/foundation slab will need to be constructed to lay the granite steps on.
Removing the Prefabricated Concrete Steps After meeting with the granite stone supplier, I went to task on removing the prefabricated concrete steps. With a pair of safety glasses, work gloves and a sledge hammer I began the process of breaking up the prefabricated concrete steps. After a couple of hours of work I reduced the steps to small fist size stones. I removed the material from the site; however I kept them relatively close at hand for the next stage of the project, building the concrete footing/foundation slab. Building the Concrete Footing/Foundation Slab During the process of demolishing the prefabricated concrete steps, I observed that they had rested on a few concrete bricks, which laid flat on the fill material around the foundation.
Using a shovel and pick ax, I removed about 1.5 feet of fill material from around the foundation entrance way and replaced it with some of the broken up concrete prefabricated stones. While adding the stones, I also mixed in some of the original fill material.
Next, I drilled several 2 inch deep holes into the side of the concrete home foundation wall and slid rebar rods into them. The rebar rods, laid flat on top of the stone/file material.
I then attached several rebar rods perpendicular the other rebar rods I just installed into the concrete and tied them together with stainless steel wire.
With the fill and rebar in place, I built a wooden frame using 2”x8”s that sat on top of the fill/stone base. The frame was open along the back wall (next to the foundation).
I hammered in wooden stakes into the ground on the outside of the frame and attached them to the frame using screws. While screwing them in I made sure the frame was level, by running a 2”x4” on top of the frame, with a level placed on top of it. I checked the back side, the front side, and from corner to corner.
I then placed into the frame additional stones from the demolition of the prefabricated concrete stone steps and back filled along the outside of the frame with fill.
Pouring the Concrete Slab
Though you can buy bags of Portland cement and mix up your own concrete, I found it better to order concrete from a local concrete mixing company. It’s a heck of a lot less effort and the cost for a yard of concrete is relatively inexpensive compared to buying small 80 pound bags of Portland cement and mixing them up by hand.
After the concrete was poured I used a 2x4 as a strike board to level off (screeding) the concrete. Basically this process involves laying the 2x4 on end across the concrete frame and working from back to front moving the board in a sawing motion side to side. This process floats the concrete and creates a smooth finished surface.
I then let the slab set up for a couple of days before removing the frame and backfilling with soil. After the slab had set up for about a week it was ready for the granite steps.
Installing the Granite Steps
This was the easy part (at least from the homeowners perspective), as it involved only watching the granite stone supplier lifting and installing the granite steps in place. In our case they actually had a crane on the truck that lifted the stones and moved them into place.
Installing Railings If railings are required, you can pre-drill holes into the granite steps and install railings if required or desired.
Installing granite steps involves some significant upfront work; however the finished look is well worth the investment. Surprisingly, the cost of installing granite steps is cheaper than one may originally think, so before you decide to forgo the idea of granite steps contact a granite supplier and get a quote. Also, if you are not up to the site preparation the granite supplier may be able to do the work or at least offer you contractor names that can do the work for you.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. For more information about DIY Home Remodeling and Home Additions and Home Remodeling and Home Maintenance visit homeadditionplus.com and homeaddition.blogspot.com.