Building landscape steps for easy access outdoors electricity electricity goodness

I recommend putting the railing in the center of the steps instead of on each side because outdoor stairs often turn, and this can be tricky. A pressure-treated-wood post such as cedar can also make a nice split rail material. Place a vertical rail of cedar on the top and bottom and insert hand rails about 36 inches high.

A. Concrete steps cost about $300 per step to be installed as opposed to $150 for a stone step. While concrete as a material may be cheaper than stone, it’s much harder and more time consuming to install. On average, it takes about two full days to lay concrete steps but only half a day for stone stairs. The prep and installation of concrete is also much more meticulous because there is more room for error.

I also tend to prefer stone over concrete steps because of the aesthetics and durability. Stone is more durable, as concrete tends to crack unless laid perfectly, and it’s available in more shapes and colors than concrete. So, especially when considering a DIY project, I recommend stone for outdoor steps.

Stones and pavers can also be replaced if needed, while concrete steps would need to be re-poured. If a homeowner is looking to install a more formal outdoor stairway, then I recommend pavers because they are much stronger than mixed concrete at 9500 PSI.

Use a sledge-hammer to drive each box horizontally into the ground where you want each step. Stake each side of the boxes to keep them in place and screw the stakes from the inside out. Add rebar for each concrete step for added support. You will then use a continuous pour for even concrete. A pump truck is helpful for this type of project because using a wheelbarrow can be difficult and timing is essential.

Work from the bottom toward the top, and use a trowel to smooth the tops of the concrete steps as you go. Then you’ll need to remove the wood boxes. Timing is essential for this part, as you want to wait until the concrete is dry enough to keep its form but wet enough for the wood to move and the concrete to be smoothed on the edges. A good test for this would be the finger test. Touch it; if your finger sinks right in, it’s too soft. Wait until your finger leaves a 1/8 inch imprint, but that’s it. The whole project will take, on average, two full days. Due to the intensive nature of this type of work, it’s best left to the pros.

A. I recommend using crush and run materials. They should be placed 6 inches below the step line. If you live in northern climates where you reach below freezing throughout the winter, you’ll need to add a 12-inch sub base below that, making it an 18-inch base total. This is because freezing can cause a heaving factor, where aggregate can move with heat and water after a hard freeze. In the 12 inches below the crush and run materials, add surge stone which is about the size of a large egg. This prevents moisture from pushing up on the product.

A. No, if you use stringers for concrete steps, you cannot achieve a consistent pour. I recommend making boxes. The stringers are less work, but, in the end, the boxes yield a more finished look that’s well worth the extra time. With boxes, you’re less likely to make mistakes. Each step in the process is critical, and a professional with experience in this area can streamline the project.

A. If a designer installs the concrete steps, homeowners should expect to pay $300 per step. I base this on an average project of 10 concrete steps for $3,000. In comparison, a stone step installation will only cost $150 per step because concrete steps are more intricate and require a higher number of team members to accomplish. Final Thoughts

Homeowners with any significant slope on their land might want to consider having landscape steps installed. Like walkways, they become permanent fixtures that not only add beauty to the yard but also fill a practical need. They can lead you safely and more comfortably to a front entry, a storage shed, or a patio, for example. If well-made, they can increase the value of your real estate by adding usable space and creating a safer environment for homeowner and guest alike.