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How to Install Stone Steps

Replacing worn-out steps with attractive flagstone steps provides a more inviting entry into any outdoor space.

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Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Determine Step Size

Calculating the vertical and horizontal distance for the steps is necessary to determine the number of steps needed as well as the height and depth or "rise" and "run" of each step. The formula for the ideal relationship between the height (rise) and depth (run) of the step is: Twice the rise plus the run should equal 25 to 27 inches. If you can’t make the formula work for you on a hillside, change the length of the stairway. A longer run allows you to have shorter rises. For a shorter run, you’ll need higher rises.

A freshly excavated site creates a clean base. The forms for the concrete foundation are built with 2bys and the concrete is poured. When building forms make sure the concrete is thoroughly dried before removing the boards to prevent the concrete from moving or sagging.

Step 3: Select and Cut the Stones

Selecting and fitting the stones for the treads and risers is the next step. Stones are cut by marking with a carpenter’s pencil, scoring with a chisel and hammer and striking sharply with a sledgehammer. When cutting stones always wear gloves and safety goggles.

Step 4: Spread Mortar and Lay Stones

A 1" layer of mortar is spread and the stones are laid one riser and tread at a time and tapped into place with a rubber mallet. After the joints are packed with mortar and allowed to dry for several days, the new steps are ready to use. After completing your stone steps, keep foot traffic off the steps for a week.

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