More in Outdoors
For this project, the experts update existing prefab concrete steps. Prefab means that the concrete was poured to a form, and then delivered onsite. All prefab steps have a lip that goes around the front and the sides. In this case, the lip is badly worn and chipped. Because you'll want your surface to be as even as possible before covering it with the new stone, that lip will have to go. Use a chipping hammer to knock the lip off each step.
Check your local building codes before any significant renovation or addition. When covering over your existing prefab steps, it's very important to make sure that your new steps follow code. Most building codes have proper step height between six and eight inches.
Before building anything, you'll need to mix mortar. For a project like this, use type-S mortar, which is a mixture of mortar and cement, and will give you a stronger bond. You'll want to use two buckets of mason sand for each bucket of type-S mortar. That will give you a richer and stickier mix.
In a wheelbarrow, dry mix the type-S mortar and sand with a hoe, then add water. Your mixed mortar should have the consistency of peanut butter. Always be sure to wear a face mask when mixing mortar or concrete in order to avoid breathing concrete dust.
With the mortar mixed, you can now add your bricks to create the new first step. You're going to be setting the brick around the front and sides to create the outline of the new step. Bear in mind that these bricks will eventually be covered with stone veneer, so you can even recycle old bricks for this step.
First make sure that your new step will be level to the ground. Run a string line across the steps at the new height, to mark where you'll be building up to. The original prefab concrete steps may not be level. To solve that problem, set two rows of brick laying flat on one end of the steps, and one row of brick standing up on its side on the other end. That evens out the height of the bricks to make the new step level (Image 1).
With the bricks set, fill in the empty space behind them with broken up concrete. Then cover the concrete with mortar, and smooth it out to get a solid base for setting the stone risers (Image 2).