Paving stones provide support for some strong and durable outdoor installations, including decks, walkways and retaining walls. These pavers can also withstand the wear and tear of outdoor steps leading into your home, garden or patio. They come in a variety of designs and styles, and once you select your stones, you must provide adequate support and foundation for your building project, or the pavers could crumble under its weight.
Excavate 8 inches deep in the area in which the first step is installed; the width of the compacted area will vary depending on the intended size of your step. Compact the subsoil with a plate compactor or hand tamper to create a completely flat support surface.
Lay down a layer of landscape fabric to cover the excavated area. This will aid in rainwater drainage under the step. Cover the fabric with a ¾-inch layer of crushed stone aggregate and compact that layer as well. You now have a stable, flat surface on which you can install your step.
Mix two parts dampened sand with one part Portland cement to create a thick paste. Trowel a ¼-inch layer of this paste on top of the base material to create a flat surface for installing your pavers.
Set your first course of pavers directly onto the sand/cement mixture, checking for level after you lay every stone to ensure the pavers fit flat against the ground and each other.
Cut 1 inch from the first paver in the second level of pavers to ensure staggered joints between stones, which provides better structural support for your steps. Depending on your stone, you will need to use a chisel and mallet or a diamond-blade wet saw to cut them. Continue to build upward and stagger joints until you reach the appropriate height for your step.
Spread a layer of sand over the top of your paver step and sweep it into the joints between pavers to provide better structural support. To settle the sand, compact or tamp the surface of the step when completed.
Some types of natural stone pavers require sealing the stones against weathering and pressure. Consult your stone manufacturer for details. To build a second step above your first, excavate the area in the appropriate direction to a depth of 1- to 2-inches lower than your intended step height. This allows proper room to lay base material and to partially bury the first course of pavers, providing optimal support.