Do-It-Yourself Brick Steps

Written by carson barrett
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Do-It-Yourself Brick Steps
Using different coloured bricks can liven up your staircase. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

In the past, many homes had staircases constructed of brick. These staircases lasted for decades if they were properly built and maintained. You can build a brick staircase in your own yard. They're usually used to lead up to the front or rear door, but you can also build them as part of a landscaping project in your yard. When you build a brick staircase, you must first build a concrete base, then lay the bricks on top of that.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Spray paint
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Tamp
  • 1/2-inch thick plywood boards
  • Saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Motor oil
  • Concrete
  • Water
  • 2-by-4 board
  • Bricks
  • Mortar
  • Trowel
  • Level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Joint tool
  • Rag
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Wet saw
  • Ear protection

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Instructions

    Building the Concrete Foundation

  1. 1

    Mark the location of the steps by spray painting the ground where they're being installed.

  2. 2

    Excavate the marked off area to a depth of six inches, levelling out the soil when you're done.

  3. 3

    Pour four inches of gravel into the hole. Smooth the gravel out and tamp it down.

  4. 4

    Construct the form for the concrete. Follow local building codes when constructing the form and deciding how many steps the staircase will have. Cut a sheet of 1/2-inch plywood that fits the width of the steps to be the back of the form. Cut two identical sheets of plywood that match the profile of the staircase for the sides of the form. Nail the side panels to the opposite ends of the back panel.

  5. 5

    Measure and cut sheets of 1/2-inch plywood to fit the risers (the front part of the steps). Nail the risers to the front edges of the steps on the form. The form now looks like a staircase without the treads (the part you step on).

  6. 6

    Apply a thin coating of motor oil to the plywood on the inside edge of the form to prevent the concrete from sticking to the form when you remove it.

  7. 7

    Put the form into position on the gravel where the steps are being built.

  8. 8

    Mix a batch of concrete, following the instructions on the packaging.

  9. 9

    Pour the concrete into the form, starting with the bottom step at the front of the form. Continue filling the form with concrete, working a shovel in the concrete and tapping on the sides of the form to remove air bubbles.

  10. 10

    Smooth the concrete on the top of the form by sliding a 2-by-4 board across the top. Allow the concrete to cure for the time specified on the packaging.

  11. 11

    Remove the form after the concrete has cured.

    Laying the Bricks

  1. 1

    Soak the bricks in water for about 10 minutes a few hours before you begin laying them. This helps prevent them from absorbing moisture from the mortar, which can cause it to crack.

  2. 2

    Mix a batch of mortar, following the instructions on the packaging.

  3. 3

    Add a layer of mortar 1/2-inch deep on the riser and tread of the bottom step.

  4. 4

    Drag a 2-by-4 board over the mortar to smooth it out.

  5. 5

    Begin laying the bricks in the mortar on the riser of the bottom step keeping a 1/2-inch gap between the bricks. Gently tap the bricks into the mortar with a rubber mallet, using a level to verify that they are the same height. Fill the joints between the bricks with mortar, and run a joint tool over the mortar in the joints to smooth it.

  6. 6

    Set the bricks into the mortar on the tread of the bottom step, using the same method you used for the bricks on the riser.

  7. 7

    Continue installing the bricks on the rest of the staircase, using the same method. Allow the mortar to set for the time specified on the packaging.

  8. 8

    Scrape away loose, dry mortar with a stiff wire brush, and wipe the bricks down with a damp rag.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a wet saw to make any needed cuts in the bricks. Wear safety goggles and ear protection. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using the wet saw.
  • Contact your local zoning board before building the steps to acquire any needed permits and learn the building codes you must follow.

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