How to build steps for a brick patio

You can build steps for a brick patio using concrete, stone or wood, but to keep with the design of the patio, you can build matching steps from brick. Brick is a versatile building material for steps because you can dry stack the bricks for a temporary set or you can build permanent steps by mortaring the bricks together during installation. This simple process for building steps requires little tools and time.

Measure the height of the patio to determine the necessary length of the steps and how much land you must excavate. Divide the height of the patio by the intended rise of each step. A good rise size for steps lies between 15 and 25 cm (6 and 10 inches), assuming that you use bricks measuring 7.5 cm (3 inches) thick; you may want to make the rise of each step measure 22.5 cm (9 inches). In that case, divide the step height by 22.5 cm (9 inches) to determine about how many steps you need for the entire set. Multiply the number of necessary steps by 25 cm (10 inches), which is the necessary depth for a comfortable step tread.

Use the result of the final multiplication to mark how far from the patio the steps must extend. Choose a necessary width for the steps and excavate the sod from the step site with a spade. Place removed sod and soil in a wheelbarrow to assist in carting the soil away.

Check the levelness of the area after removing the sod. Remove additional soil as necessary to create a perfectly level site for the steps. Tamp the soil down in the area with a manual soil tamper.Check the soil with a level occasionally and continue tamping until you produce a perfectly level site with tightly packed soil that does not shift under your footsteps.

Fill the excavated area with crushed stone until the layer of the stone lies flush with the surrounding ground. Use the manual tamper again to compact the stone layer until it also stops shifting under your weight and measures perfectly level.

Remove all dirt from the wheelbarrow and rinse with a garden hose. Empty a bag of ready-mix mortar into the wheelbarrow and apply water according to package directions. Use a garden hoe to mix the mortar powder with water.

Lay the first course of brick into the step site. Start in one front corner of the step site and set the first brick into place. Apply mortar to the interior sides of the brick with a trowel and set the next bricks into place. Create an entire, solid sheet of bricks. Use a jointer tool to keep the mortar joints between bricks as smooth as possible.

Apply two more layers of brick on top of the first. Follow the direction above and make each layer the same size as the lower layers. After you apply the first three layers, move inward towards the house 25 cm (10 inches) to make room for the first step tread. Apply three smaller layers of bricks over the first three layers, to create the first step in the set.

Repeat theses steps, applying three layers of brick and moving in 25 cm (10 inches) until you reach the top of the patio.


Avoid walking over the steps until the mortar has about three days to dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Spade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Level
  • Manual soil tamper
  • Crushed stone
  • Bricks
  • Ready-mix mortar
  • Garden hose
  • Garden hoe
  • Mortar trowel
  • Jointer tool
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About the Author

Penny Porter is a full-time professional writer and a contributor to "Kraze" magazine. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in journalism at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky.