edseaman

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by edseaman, May 20, 2008.

  1. edseaman

    edseaman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    I want to build a set of stairs for the front porch of my cabin. Total height is 40 inches, with 12 in treads - figure 5 stairs with risers of about 8 in apiece.
    Have mapped it out in L-shape of 78 in by 106in ( stairs will need to be 6ft long. Would like them done out of the same rock I have used to face the basement wall around the cabin. Don't know how to proceed now. Could someone advise? Thanks
     
  2. John Zaprala

    John Zaprala LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 283

    call a contractor who knows what he's doing. Seriously, no offense if you have no idea, most likely you're going to build a liability, not steps.
     
  3. edseaman

    edseaman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    How about something constructive ( no pun intended). I have done rock work before- just not steps. A little help would be encouraging. Thanks.
     
  4. John Zaprala

    John Zaprala LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 283

    I'm not trying to be smart, but your stating to build a staircase from a similar stone you used on a basement wall. Is that a veneer then? Obviuosly, you'll have to an actual stone and not veneer. Most quarries have stepper boulders in beige, gray, you name it. We build the boulder steps in similar fashion to buildig block steps. We use a modified stone base about 24" deep and then a layer of grit to level the steppers. Most steppers will be between 6-8" tall. To get the 6' width you will need set steppers side by side.
     
  5. edseaman

    edseaman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Great! I just need a little bit more info. I realized that while I used veneer for the wall I have to use boulders for the steps And I know I have to go down under the ground a bit - if I dig down 12 in and level with clean crush am I on the right track? I also realize I have to backfill behind each step with the clean crush. My biggest problem is since these are free standing steps, what should I put on the sides of them to hold all that clean crush in place? Can I use treated railroad ties and bury the first ones under ground? Will they hold up or will they rot? I was also thinking I should drill some spikes through the ties so that they hold together as I build the stairs up that way they would have some support against the crush. Does that sound reasonable?

    My next thought is what if I use the railroad ties to form the risers and backfill behind them with ties on either side. Would that work and last?
    If I use the ties as risers could I then do 2in thick veneer for the actual treads?

    I was looking at some illustrations with nursery stone and they show the use of heavy outdoor netting behind the stones? Why is the fabric or netting necessary and how do you set it in?

    I know that's a lot of questions but I really would appreciate the advice
    Thanks.

    ED
     
  6. John Zaprala

    John Zaprala LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 283

    Ok, a couple things here... Railroad ties in general started rotting the day they were cut, they last around 15-25 years at most. The idea of using boulders as the thread (and riser the thickness is the actual step) is to avoid needing retention. Is there a reason why the steps couldn't be cut into the hill instead of being freestanding? If the boulders are used the boulder has rough sides as well and looks good from all angles. To build these steps or any block steps really, you need to excavate into the hill first. You said 12" if you want to use 12" of base stone that is fine, but that needs to be compacted with a plate compactor every 2 inches of that 12". The reasoning is to allow drainage under the steps and create a firm base on which to lay your step. The fabric is basically to create separation from the soil and stone base, so it doesn't get filled in with soil. Weed fabric is not acceptable for this application. Hopefully, I answered all those questions. Here's a pic of step threads we've recently done, maybe this will help. NOTE: THESE PHOTOS ARE PROPERTY OF NORTHAMPTON NURSERY, LORD HELP THE SAP THAT USES THEM AS THEIR OWN!!!
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  7. edseaman

    edseaman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Thanks for answering. I need to think about this a little bit more now. Don't worry though - your pics are just to help me get an idea of how to do the job.
    I do appreciate your trust. I'll get back to you soon.

    Ed
     
  8. John Zaprala

    John Zaprala LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 283

    That note was for everyone. I know of a few incidents with other members finding their pics on another LCO's website.
     

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