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StepsI have kind of a difficult retrofit coming up. Old multitier

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by SCL, Mar 12, 2002.

  1. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 543

    I have a difficult retrofit to bid. Multi-tier retaining walls with railroad tie steps in the middle. Walls are landscape timbers and they want to maintain that look, much against my advice. Its their place though. I did convince them to go away from the ties for steps and would like to put in stone of some sort. Problem is, there are 28 steps at 6" and the treads are winding. Depth of tread is between 8" and 20". Don't know of any 20" deep products. Any suggestions?
  2. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 1,277

    You can get saw-cut, split-faced, bush-hammered limestone steppers that are 6" in height, 24" in depth. But they'll cost ya. Buechel Stone, Halquist Stone, Fond Du Lac Stone and Eden Stone are 4 Wisconsin companies that can likely serve your needs. The steps will run you about $60-70 each.

    Another idea - you could have limestone outcropping-type stone, with differing dimensions. They might serve you better in a winding staircase. But I'd think that for design consistency you'd then have to work limestone in somewhere else, too.

    One last idea - does the whole step need to be a single stone? Could you have a more narrow piece of limestone act like the riser/main part of the tread, and fill behind it (from the top back edge of that stone to the bottom front edge of the next step up) with rotten granite?
  3. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    I think Stonehenge is right on this one, natural stone steps would be the way to go, calling a stone supplier and having all the measurments will go a long way. Lastprice I got on snapped stone in small quanities was $100 per ton (only one trailer load)
    this is like 7 or 8 tons using 3 foot widths, prices to you will run around $140 per ton look for 24" snapped 3' wide. A more rustic looking step can be made with outcropping stone, sizes vary more here along with depth and length but 5" to 6" might work you'll just have to play with it some for it to work.
  4. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Sorry my brains not working :) How about Siena stone caps from Unilock? I know their 7 3/8 thick but they make the 20" you need in depth.
  5. diginahole

    diginahole LawnSite Member
    Posts: 249

    I agree with paul, Sienna steps re the way to go. They are easy to install and very inexpensive.Off the top of my head I think they cost about $40 each.

    The only way that I would choose to use units tht can't be manhandled into place is if you have machine access from the topside so you can start at the bottom and back your way out. You would need a big crane to lift units up 14 feet out 24 plus feet. If you can't back out as you build, I would use smaller retaining wall units like Pisa II with paver treads to suit your site requirements.

    On a design side of things, try to keep the steps as uniform as possible to make them safer and more comfortable to navigate.

    Good luck. These can be very profitabe projects if you can back out your machine as you build steps.
  6. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 543

    Thanks guys, we're on the same page. I hadn't thought much about natural stone that could well be the the ticket. I had thought of the Pisa II with the 2' coping, but that's where the greater than 12" depth hurts me. If I could figure that part out I'd have my answer. As far as Sienna stone goes, this was my original idea too. I love the look and the stability. My problem here is how do I get a 400 lb. + unit to stack over 6 or 7" high? Limited access from top and good access from bottom. The crane idea may have to come into play. :confused: Thanks again.
  7. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 1,277

    I think I disagree with the concrete units as a solution. It seems that if they are insisting on a timber retaining wall, that they are going for a more rustic look, and I think natural stone does that job better than a man-made product.

    Especially if they said they didn't want the concrete units for a wall. Would they approve of them for steps?

    My reasons are purely aesthetic, and the others are right, that natural stone would be more difficult to install. But I think it would pay aesthetic dividends.
  8. site

    site LawnSite Member
    Posts: 168

    Heres an answer to your access problem- if you use naural stone or some other heavy step material. Find a way to stack all your materials uphill from where you are working. As you build slide steps down the hill as needed. If you have to go a long way set up planks or pipes to reduce friction. Be careful to maintain control of the step, and don't stand below it when sliding it. Gravel or fill material can be hauled up the finished steps as needed. If that doesn't work rent a Lull
  9. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    I think I would just stick with the tie steps.

    Sometimes the left side of my brain gets ahead of the right when it comes to design. In many of my situations, a idea like this sounds great until I give them the numbers.

    Its funny though. If a client says they would be happy with tie steps, then why bother changing their minds? Some guys wouldn't think twice of changing the inital idea, while others try to be more creative. I often wonder if creativity make things more complicated than they really should be, and if the price to be creative is justifiable in situations like this.

    If I had to do the job though, I'm in agreement with the idea of natural stone over concrete. I was at a stone yard about a year or so ago and they had the perfect stone. I think it was from utah, and it looked like petrified wood, very cool looking. It was in slabs that would work well as steps. It would blend in very well with the steps, yet add another dimension to the project. I'll see if I can't remember where the stone came from.

  10. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    If you have good access from the bottom the use it, check with your skid steer dealer if they have a boom attachment for your machine it should get you up the first ten feet or so then work from the top for the rest.

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