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Footing for granite step install

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Clarkscape, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Clarkscape

    Clarkscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    What approach do you use? I was taught by an old engineer to poor concrete footing and tie into foundation. I recently watched a video by Bobcat Ninja's crew where they used geo fabric and compacted dense grade. Thoughts?
  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    A few variables need consideration.

    We will not build block steps if there are more than 3 risers.

    We will not build block steps on houses less than 2 years old.

    In 2012 we had to rebuild block steps that we built in 2010. The steps had 5 rises just an enormous amont of weight. They settled. We did everything right. The house was 4 or 5 years old at the time.

    It took a week to tear down and rebuild. Had to buy 3 tons of gravel. Had to buy one pallet of block. Had to buy adhesive. Plus fuel to get to the property for 5 days. Lesson learned. Never again. We fixed it. I feel good, we did the right thing. Customer is happy. Never again will we do monsterous steps like that. If client insists then they can sign a waiver accepting no guarantee.

    Bestthingto do is completely excavate the overdig zone. That is expensive and does not happen in minutes. You'll prove yourself out of the market. Nice composit steps are way cheaper and they don't settle.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Clarkscape

    Clarkscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    DVS, On 2010 job what did you use for your footing...Compacted base material or concrete footing/slab tied into foundation wall?
  4. TomG

    TomG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 674

    Hey that's my video! haha

    DVS is referring to block steps, big difference from granite steps. We will not install block steps on any house around here unless the homeowner agrees that there is no warranty. Way, way to many call backs because of our freeze thaw climate.

    Back to granite steps, first I'm assuming you mean a granite stoop, like to a front door? What we do is excavate at least a foot and a half (dependent on soil conditions and age of house) of material and then back fill with 3/4" processed gravel. We over dig the sides and front of the stoop by at least a foot all the way around. Again dependent of soil conditions and age of house. Along with the processed gravel, every 4" we put in a layer of geo-textile fabric or geo-grid no matter what the soil or the age of the house is.

    We do probably 40+ granite stoops a year and this works for us. I'm not saying its the best way to do it in all parts of the country but it looks like your from Massachusetts so you have similar soil conditions to me.
  5. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    Whats the biggest one youve done tom?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    This was on a compacted base. What should have been done is we should have excavated down 10 feet and started from scratch. Sounds so simple and straight forward doesn't it? A no brainer. Well, this was a high dollar project. But that high dollar amount was all there was. Excavating the over-dig, backfilling, and compacting doesnt happen at the snap of a finger, that is if you do it 110 percent correctly.

    Then we have water drainage issues. (in terms of future projects we havent met yet)

    Gutter issues on the house. (in terms of future projects we havent met yet)

    Mature deciduous trees that over hang the dwelling's gutters (in terms of future projects we havent met yet)

    We're starting to get busy again, my 2 week winter break is about up. But I'm hoping to write a long report about what I've learned, what to look for in the future, and all that jazz.

    Its gonna be hard to sell a job to someone that wants/needs 5 step risers and all the other contractors aren't even blinking an eye. But you know what? Thats why I my company has another division of service that is profitable and doing very well! Helen Home Owner doesnt wanna go with me because I wont warranyty 12,000# of steps - no biggie, my trucks still leave every morning.

    3 pallets of block. 5 tons of gravel. Plus a pallet of caps. Grand steps. Too much weight even if on a slab, it'll pull the slab off the foundation wall and maybe even put pressure on the foundation.
  7. Clarkscape

    Clarkscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Yes, i am referring to granite stoop...on a side note, Tom G. your father turned me on to the granite idea when he did the ICPI training about 5 years ago down here on the Cape; Greatly appreciated....It has worked out really well!
    The slab approach has worked out for me up to this point, no call backs, no unfortunate situation like DVS had. With that be said, if the dense grade/geo combo can save me $ on time/material end i am going to implement it. Tom, Is there a specific grade geo fabric you prefer?
  8. TomG

    TomG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 674

    The biggest pad we have done is a 11'x5' pad (weighs 6,050lbs) on top of one 11' step. But the biggest total stoop i think is a 6'x4' pad on top of eight 6' steps.
  9. TomG

    TomG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 674

    I'm glad it has worked out for you!

    There is not a specific grade fabric we use. We buy it through our hardscape supply yard in 12' rolls. We use Mirafi. And when we use geo-grid we just use the same stuff we use behind our walls.

    I have a question for you since you do a slab. Do you mix your own concrete or do you get it delivered in a concrete truck? The reason I ask is because we have found we can get or aggregate compacted to a higher psi than if we mixed the concrete our self. And if we want a higher psi concrete from a truck the minimum they will deliver is usually way more than what we need so its not cost effective.

    And I will say if the slab has worked out for you so far there is probably no reason to change.
  10. Clarkscape

    Clarkscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Yes, we mix, instead of having it delivered, for exactly the same reason you described.
    That is something....you can get a higher psi compacting! That reversable compactor must really pack a punch!!
    What instrument did you guys use to figure out the psi?

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