Using precast concrete steps has a number of advantages over forming and pouring concrete steps from scratch. Precast concrete steps save you time and labour, and you can purchase the steps in a variety of height and width units that will fit your building. Precast concrete steps are hollow, which makes them lighter than poured-in-place steps. Therefore, they will not settle as much and you will not have to raise them later.
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Things you need
- Pea gravel
- Rigging (slings or chains with shackles)
- 2-foot piece of rebar
- Grout mix
- Mason's jointer tool
Clear the area where you are going to place the precast concrete steps with the shovel. You want to clear an area that is slightly larger and wider then the base of the steps and dig down 8 inches into the ground.
Fill the area you dug out with 4 inches of pea gravel. The pea gravel will help water drain and prevent the soil from being washed away underneath the steps, which can cause them to sink.
Set up your crane. Have the operator make sure that he can swing the boom of the crane to move the precast steps into place without running the risk of hitting any wires or objects.
Attach the rigging to the picking hook of the crane, and then to the picking points cast into the step. Use shackles to connect the slings or chains of your rigging to the points. The picking points are metal eyelets that are set in the concrete steps that allow you to pick up and move the steps with the crane while ensuring the steps are supported evenly.
Tie two ropes to the stairs, one each to one eyelet on each side. Have two helpers use these ropes to control the steps while they are in the air when the crane is moving them into position. This way you can prevent the steps from swinging and can guide them into position easily as the crane lowers them into place.
Lower the steps into place, guiding them with the ropes. When the steps are almost touching the pea gravel, push them into position so they are centred on the door or walkway they are leading up to. Disconnect the rigging from the steps. Remove the eyelets by placing a piece of rebar through the eyelet and using it like a "T" handle to unscrew the eyelet (turn it counterclockwise).
Mix your grout with water, following the instructions on the grout bag for the proper ratio, until the grout is slightly thicker then pancake batter. Use a trowel to apply the grout between the precast steps and the wall or building. Smooth the grout using a mason's jointer by lightly dragging the curved side of the jointer over the grout. This will give it a smooth finish.
Tips and warnings
- When you have your helpers holding the ropes, make sure that they do not stand underneath the precast steps, but out to the sides. Should anything go wrong and the rigging break, they will not be underneath the steps if they fall.
- Most states require that the crane operator be licensed and certified by the state they are operating the crane in. Failure to make sure that your operator has the correct licensing may not only cause your job to be shut down, but you may also have to pay a fine.
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