I was just hoping to get some advice on updating the outdoor steps at the back of my house.
These are a bit all over the place, have narrow treads (that are not uniform) and can be a bit slippery and dangerous when it rains (please see photo 1).
I'm installing a deck that will be just above the level of the bottom step (so the bottom step will be covered by the deck), but before installing the deck, I would ideally like to:
As I'm planning to do this myself (with my pretty basic skills), I'm wondering if anyone has some advice about the easiest and best way of going of about this?
For instance, would either of these options work well:
1. Remove concrete layer, mortar in additional bricks to extend treads, and then (using mortar) pave/tile directly on brick
2. Keep concrete layer (which isn't particularly level), pour additional new concrete to extend treads, and then (using mortar) pave/tile on concrete.
Or would it be better to demolish the existing steps and start again?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Photo 1 - Existing steps
Photo 2 - Example steps with pavers/tiling
Photo 3 - Example steps with paver tread
Thank you for sharing your question about your outdoor steps. Since the initial repair of your steps was not ideal, I suggest removing the old concrete and putting on a new layer with the correct height and level. I also suggest factoring in the height of the paver and deck in your repair calculations.
Your current brick steps still look to be in good condition, however, if you feel that a new set of steps would be better for your decking build, I recommend factoring in the time and cost element of adding this extra job to your deck.
Please keep us updated with your progress, we look forward to seeing the start of your project.
Thanks so much for your really useful suggestion and advice.
Following on from this, just had a couple of additional follow-up questions. Would you or anyone else have any advice/resources on:
1. Which type of pre-mix concrete to purchase from bunnings (given I will pave/tile over the top)? Quick set? Self-levelling?
2. How to lay the new concrete on the brick steps (once I've removed the old concrete)? Would the process be something like clean bricks, lay formwork, mix concrete (with a bonding additive to help bond to bricks), and then pour concrete (for both steps at the same time or do top step first, wait to dry and then pour middle step etc)?
Any further suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.
To add to @EricL's response, I believe the priority here is to address the inadequate depth of the steps and any safety issues. I suggest going with your original idea of removing the concrete layer, mortaring in additional bricks and creating an adequately sized landing and first step. Two bricks wide would be sufficient. You can add formwork around the now suitably sized landing and step. You'll then be able to pour the concrete to create the pad and step/step riser.
Quick-set Concrete would be suitable for your project, and I'd advise adding reinforcement mesh into the pad and step riser to prevent any chance of it cracking. This reo-mesh needs to be raised, so it sits midway in the concrete. The Quick-set will "self-level" to a certain extent, and you'll need to vibrate the formwork to remove voids. You can hit the formwork with a hammer to settle the concrete.
It would be best if you could pour everything in the one go to achieve a homogenous structure. It will take some forethought on your formwork, but it is achievable. I've created a rendering to assist you with this process. Please note that the step is now three bricks high. Depending on the height of your deck, this should be a reasonable step down onto it.
The process you've laid out for pouring the concrete is spot on.
Please give us a shout if you have further questions.
Wow, thank so much for the super helpful advice and rendering Mitchell - really appreciate this!
Sorry, forgot to ask about what would be the best/easiest way of removing the current concrete layer without damaging the existing bricks?
Any further assistance/guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much for all your help.
Start at the edges where the concrete meets the brick. Place the bolster on that line and hit it with the hammer. You should be able to separate the concrete or at least compromise the joint. Then, start on the surface and face of the steps and try to chip off concrete segments. Repeat this process and work your way across the steps. Some solid blows with the hammer on the surfaces should help break up the concrete.
If you're not making any headway, picking up a budget-friendly rotary hammer drill would make the job a breeze.
Please let me know if you have further questions.
Wonderful - thanks so much Mitchell. This is really helpful!
No technical advice here… but some practical and style thoughts. I have a real thing about outside steps … especially on new builds - just ask my husband 🙂.
Anyway. The mistake I think often happens is that people create mean little steps that just do the job. They never have any style or actually make using the stairs better. The examples of other steps in the photos you’ve shown illustrate my point. Wider, longer and more balance. Even having a return can look great. Stairs can be a wonderful feature.
If you can I’d think about the proportions and the look in older examples. The brick veneers of the 50s and 60s are full of lovely steps. so that’s my 2bobs. But back to listening to the technical dudes.
Thanks so much @MMF155 - really appreciate your thoughtful insights about ensuring both form & function (& will definitely take your thoughts on board)!