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How to Fix Stone Steps

Updated February 21, 2017

Old stone steps can deteriorate over time, leaving the mortar between the stones loose or crumbling. If this occurs, it is important to repair the steps to maintain a safe surface to walk on. The mortar between the stones must be chiselled out and repointed with fresh mortar in a two-part process. The first part is called tamp pointing and is followed by finish pointing. Two different mortars are used for the mixes. The end result will be a sturdy repair for your stonework.

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Chisel out the loose or crumbling mortar joints in the stone steps until you reach solid mortar, approximately 2 to 3 inches. Tap a masonry chisel with a masonry hammer as you guide the chisel along the joints to clean it out.

Brush any loose debris left behind by the chisel out of the joints, using a wire brush.

Mix seven parts sharp sand, one part lime and one part cement in a mixing trough with a trowel. Slowly add water until you reach a stiff batter-like consistency.

Pack approximately half of the depth of the cleaned-out mortar joints in the steps with the mixed mortar, using the tip of a pointing trowel. This is called tamp pointing.

Mix six parts sharp sand, one part lime and three-quarters part cement in a mixing trough with enough water to create a stiff batter mix, using a trowel.

Fill the remaining depth of the tamp-pointed joints with the mortar you mixed in Step 5, using the point of a pointing trowel to finish-point the joints. Drag the tip of the trowel across the finished joints to smooth the surface.


Inspect stone steps seasonally, and make small repairs to the mortar as needed to maintain the stonework.


Wear eye and hand protection when making stone step repairs.

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Things You'll Need

  • Masonry hammer
  • Masonry chisel
  • Wire brush
  • Sharp sand
  • Mixing trough
  • Lime
  • Cement
  • Trowel
  • Water
  • Pointing trowel
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves

About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.

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