Block steps are sometimes necessary to create a step when an estimate for other types of stairs is beyond the budget. The greatest advantage of block steps is their economy. They can be built easily and quickly, given proper planning. Another advantage is that you can vary the height of each step, providing easy access up and down without any need for risers. Begin by finding level ground, ideally right next to the house or other structure you will be building around. Set posts at the perimeter of the area you wish to use; you’ll need enough posts to construct a curved wall of blocks.
Even though you’re probably used to seeing outdoor steps that are made with stone, brick, or wood, it’s actually quite easy to build a set of block stairs. Not only are they relatively straightforward and quick to construct, but if you build them correctly from the beginning, they’ll be sturdier and last longer than their counterparts. So if you’ve been looking for a way to add a permanent or semi-permanent staircase to your home or garden area that’s less work than traditional methods of construction (like wood or brick), block stairs might be for you.
Setting the foundation.
Before you can build a staircase, you must first build the foundation. This is true for all things in life: before we build houses or streets and neighborhoods, we need to lay down a foundation. While your house may be more complicated than a set of stairs, the principle remains the same: if you want to get from point A to point B, then there’s no way around building something sturdy on which to stand.
When I say “foundation,” what do I mean? Well, our lives are all built upon certain principles—the most important being that happiness comes from within ourselves rather than being dependent on external factors like money or material possessions. If we try too hard to satisfy these needs without first having them met within ourselves (such as through meditation), then what happens? We can never reach satisfaction because our focus is wrong; instead of looking inward toward peace and contentment, we’re looking outward toward things which may never give us anything but temporary gratification at best.
That’s where block stairs come into play: they allow us freedom from relying solely on outside sources like other people or community events while also providing support so nothing falls apart during our climb upwards toward self-realization.
Preparing the surface.
- Remove rocks and debris from the area.
- Level the ground. Use a 2-by-4 or other straight piece of lumber to mark a line at the height you want your stairs to be, then use a level or plumb bobs to make sure it’s as level as possible.
- Mark the area where your stairs will be by using a string line (a long cord with weights on either end) and stakes so that you can see where you want them to go before digging them in! Remember: Digging yourself partway into an unexpected hole is no fun.
Creating your step template.
The first step to building your block stairway is to create your template. To do this, you’ll need a tape measure and straight-edge (a ruler works great).
Using the straight-edge, draw a line that’s equal to the finished width of your risers onto the surface where you want your stairs built. Make sure this line is level and straight, then mark off each riser with an additional centerline as shown below:
You can use these measurements as guides when placing your blocks; however, if you’d like more accuracy out of them (such as if they’re going into stone), it’s best to take two separate measurements: one from left to right and one from front to back make sure both are level before marking off points where screws can be driven safely.
Building the first riser.
- Build a level base.
- Build a level riser.
- Build a level step, making sure it’s even with the top of the riser and the top of the landing.
- Build another level riser to form a second step that will lead up to your block stairs.
Laying base course of blocks.
Lay the first course of blocks by placing them on top of the foundation. Make sure they are level and spaced properly, so that when you place subsequent courses, they will be level with each other. You may want to use a level or plumb line to check your work as you go along.
Place blocks so that they are level with the top of your foundation and also with the top of your last course (the one above it).
Laying the rest of the steps.
Lay the rest of the steps. The last step is to finish laying the steps in place, making sure they’re level and spaced evenly. If you have any questions about how to do this, please consult your manufacturer’s instructions.
Finishing up and maintenance.
- Once the blocks and concrete have dried, seal all of the joints between the blocks. If you want to make your stairs extra clean and smooth, use a grout saw to cut off any excess mortar that’s sticking out from between two adjacent pieces of stone. This will make it easier for you to seal these areas later on with some kind of moisture-resistant sealant (i.e., epoxy sealer).
- Once again, making sure to leave enough space between each block so they don’t crack or break down over time due to being too tightly packed together.
- Lastly and most importantly make sure your mortar is a good quality one!
Block stairs are relatively simple to build and will last a long time if built correctly.
The first step is to prepare the blocks. For a standard 12 x 12 block, use a cement-based mortar that is 1/2″ thick and apply it to the back of the block with a steel trowel, leaving enough room for expansion. You can either use premixed mortar or make your own by mixing Portland cement and sand at a ratio of 200 lbs per 1 cubic yard of concrete (or 80 lbs per cubic meter). The ideal moisture content for concrete is around 5 percent by weight or 25 percent by volume; if you have access to an electronic moisture meter, this will be helpful when determining what your mix should be. Make sure that there’s no standing water on the surface when you’re ready to apply the block mortar if there is, let it evaporate before continuing.
Once all of your blocks are mortared in place they need some time set up before they can be used as stairs; add something like garden stakes around each corner where two sides meet so that they don’t fall over while drying out properly (we found these metal stakes did a great job).
So, we’ve just seen how to build block stairs. You now know all the steps involved in creating a beautiful and sturdy set of steps from scratch. We hope you had fun learning with us, and we’re sure you’re excited to get started.