Patio and step question

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Alan, Jun 11, 2002.

  1. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    It looks like I'll be doing a patio of about 600 sf with tumbled pavers. All material will be Techo-Bloc, Elena pavers and (as of right now) Creta wall blocks and caps for a 3 rise step up to the house. The patio itself is no problem, but I've never tried to incorporate a step into one.

    This step will be curved and the top wilbe something like 3' deep, allowing room for people to come out the door and get oriented before they step down.

    If I run Mini-Creat and caps I get a 6" rise.., not enough to feel comfortable underfoot. Full Creta would give me about an 8" rise,, too much for code compliance.

    I'm thinking about running full Creta in successive courses and changing base grade to let me come up with a 7" rise. To do that the lower course would be set down to bury the block behind the pavers, leaving a 4" reveal. Next row back would be buried to allow two courses plus a cap to make the next 7" rise, etc.

    In that scenario the steps would set on prepared base. If I go Mini-Creta I would stack them on the pavers, glueing them in place to keep them from shifting. Then fill the cavity with base material and set the pavers for the landing .

    Darn, I hope this makes sense, not a very good description. If anybody can shed any light on this arrangement it would be appreciated.
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Are you sure that 8" risers will not meet code in your area. It usually does in a landscape application.
    Is this just one riser? I have not used the product you have described, but changing a base elevation to make the riser a certain height is not bad if it is only one step. Keep in mind that you will be building, I assume, off of the first step to make the second which means that the block will dictate the riser for the second step. Also the cap stone will not be under the second step, so it does not figure into the height of the riser.
    Draw out the base material, patio surface, riser, cap stone, second riser, and second capstone to scale. This will keep you from making some big mistakes.
    Good luck,
  3. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Does the first course for the step meet with wall block? If not you can change grade for each course.
  4. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    a 6" rise per step is just fine. And AGLA's right, 8" is within code anywhere I've been.

    We've installed steps many different ways, including the method you're going to try - my advice is to use a method that allows 1 base prep (not 3-4 like what you're going to do), and try to come up with some other way, using other materials, to give you the rise you need to get up to patio doors, by stacking and gluing block or pavers.

    It'll end up going much faster that way, and it'll be less likely for you to have settling problems in the future.
  5. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073


    Creta blocks are 5". A reason I hate them, because they don't work out to be good steps. I would shoot for the mini-creta and make 6" steps.

    I don't like the idea of setting the blocks on top of the pavers. I would bury 1 block/part of a block below the pavers or have it so it is started at the same level as the bedding course for the pavers.

    I don't see any problems with the 6" step either. It will work out fine.

    As for building the first step, then trying to level the base behind the first step for the second one at such and such a grade, I would not try that. A real pain in the but.

    Usually best to 'stack' you steps all from the same level. For example, if you have three steps, the first step will consist of 1 block, the second 2, and the third three. It costs more in block, but it speeds up the installation and leads to a much more stable and enduring set up steps. The less you fill in the 'hole', the less chance you have for sinkage.

    Don't forget flashing against the house behind the steps either.

    Also, for the mini-creta or creta, be sure to use a adhesive on all of the courses, not just the cap to the top block. Mini/regular creta are small block. I usually adhere not just the cap to the top course but also the top block to the next block also, as I learned the blocks still move if you only glue the cap when walked on.

    Finally, try using the polymerized sand on the pavers in the top of the step. I've always had problems keeping sand in them, as it tends to wash out throuh the cracks in the blocks/caps frequently.

  6. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    Steveair - here are some things we do to reduce sand exiting the step structure:

    Use the adhesive you brought along to fill in the spots where it tends to leak.

    Use the expandable foam you use for your pond builds. It can also help in making up for any differences in block heights when using the stack method for building steps.
  7. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073

    Hey stonehenge,

    I've often thought of using the foam but questioned its longevity over time. For some reason on a job, I had a can and used it to fill the gaps of tumbled wall blocks that I used for a set of steps. It worked out pretty good.

    What you are saying is you use it to make up differences in the blocks also? I've always just get out that 'dirty old' diamond cup grinder and level my top courses out. Does the foam seem to hold up over time. I've been known to use a few pennies or washers here and there, and if I'm really in a bind, even quarters, but's thats only for the really, really high end jobs....

  8. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Hey guys, I assume you're talking about the black foam for ponds, dark so it doesn;t show up between stones and stuff. How "rigid" is that stuff compared to the sealant foam you use around doors and windows? And, as a thought, there are several filler foams available in the autobody industry that end up virtually a "structural" density. pumped between body panels they expand to stop rattels and are stiff enough to prevent the outer panel from caving in under a mild load. I just had a wild hair thought that they might be good material for this purpose. I'm thinking they are a two part urethane of some sort soo they should work on any clean, dry substrate.
  9. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    Alan - I haven't heard of that kind of foam, but it's piqued my interest. Do you know of any brand names of the stuff?

    As for color of foam, that doesn't matter much, because it doesn't ever get to a point in a step const where you might see it.

    As for it's durability over time, it seems to hold up well - it's pretty thin when used to bridge differing heights (no more than a quarter), but when it gets used for that, it's primarily being used as a sand block, and that's just a nice side benefit.
  10. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Both 3M and SEMS make the autobody adhesives and foams. One of our plow customers is a body supply house, I'll see about getting information on the stuff. I've seen the sample gobs they have for sales help, if I can get my hands on one of those I can see just how firm the stuff is.

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