How to build brick porch steps

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Brick porch steps not only give your home an attractive, traditional look, they are also as durable as it gets. Built properly, they can last decades without showing any wear. To build a set of quality brick stairs, you must follow masonry rules strictly and take the time and care to do it right.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Cement
  • 2-by-4 planks of wood
  • Screed
  • Bricks
  • Mortar
  • Trowel
  • Mallet
  • Hammer
  • Bolster

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the existing stairs if there are any. If you have a set of brick steps that are in disrepair, the easiest and best thing to do is get rid of them altogether and start over.

  2. 2

    Excavate the soil to below the frost line using a shovel. Compact and level the ground to prepare it for cement.

  3. 3

    Construct the frame for the cement using 2 by 4s lining the perimeter.

  4. 4

    Mix the cement according to the package instructions and pour it into the base. Screed the cement level and allow it to cure as directed. The cement base will provide stability to the brick porch steps.

  5. 5

    Measure from the base to the top of the porch to determine how high steps need to be, also called the "total rise."

  6. 6

    Determine how high you want the rise of each step to be to satisfy the total rise. This will require a little creative math since bricks generally have fixed dimensions. Play around with different patterns to get the rise you need. The rise on a brick step is usually between 6 and 7 1/2 inches.

  7. 7

    Wet the bricks with a garden hose a couple hours before you start to work with them.

  8. 8

    Mix the mortar according to the manufacturer's directions.

  9. 9

    Lay a 1/2-inch layer of mortar on the concrete base and use the screed to level it.

  10. 10

    Lay the bricks according to your pattern, leaving a 1/2 inch of space between them. You can use temporary form bars to guide you in a straight line. Set the bricks into the mortar with a tap from the mallet.

  11. 11

    Fill the spaces between the bricks with mortar using the trowel and move on to the next layer in your pattern.

  12. 12

    Finish the look, tooling the exterior joints with a concave jointer tool.

  13. 13

    Remove excess mortar from the bricks with a stiff brush after the mortar has set a little but isn't entirely cured.

Tips and warnings

  • Install a grid of rebar before pouring the cement to add even more structural stability to your brick steps.
  • Build a slight pitch into the tread on the steps to facilitate rain runoff. If water is allowed to pool on the treads, it can seep into the mortar and cause damage.
  • You may have to cut some bricks to finish off the edges. If so, place a bolster on the cut line and strike it with a hammer to make the cut.

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