Building Concrete Steps – How To Build Concrete Steps and Stairs Video

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Phil Puccio

Building concrete stairs doesn’t have to be difficult. If you want to learn how to build concrete steps, just follow this step-by-step guide.

This concrete step-by-step building guide covers sizing, preparing the base, building the formwork, pouring, finishing and curing the concrete from start to finish.

How to build concrete steps

After reading through this guide you will have a much better understanding of the skill and time it takes to build concrete steps all by yourself.

My videos at the bottom of the page show you how I do it and give you a good idea of ​​whether you want to build the concrete staircase yourself or hire a professional to do it.

“NEW” this SIMPLE LAYOUT TOOL cutting your stair stringers takes the guesswork out of it. It also comes with its own step-by-step video showing you how to use it. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT if you are trying to build your own concrete stairs.



STEP 1. DETERMINE SIZE your concrete steps. Before you begin constructing concrete steps, check with your local building code to ensure you meet all required dimensions. Keep in mind that you also need to check what is required for handrails.

Build concrete stairs

ONE “riser” is the vertical area of ​​the step and a “to step” is the horizontal area of ​​the step. To determine the overall size of the concrete staircase, you must first calculate the total rise and course of the steps to be built.

Measure the distance from the floor to where you want the landing or top platform of the steps. This measurement is the total rise of the stairs.

For example, if the total rise is 28 inches, 4 risers of 7 inches will work fine. If the total rise is 24 inches, 4 risers of 6 inches would work. A comfortable riser is usually between 6 and 8 inches.

After calculating the number of risers you need, you can calculate the run. Each tread should be at least 12 inches deep for a 6-8 inch rise. The top step or landing should be wide enough to comfortably stand on when the steps lead to an entrance.

For the above example, if the top landing is 36 inches and the remaining 3 steps are 12 inches, the total length of the concrete steps is 6 feet from the building’s facade. If this is too wide, adjust the top heel to suit your needs.

Level all of the floor in front of the door at least 6 inches wider than the concrete stair. Dig down and remove grass or topsoil to a depth of at least 6 inches.

After removing the topsoil and leveling the area, fill in the area with gravel or crushed stone. Compact the newly filled material with a hand tamper to give you a solid base at first.

If you live in a cold climate area, laying 2 inches of Styrofoam on top before filling with gravel will help prevent frost from getting under the stairs and moving them up and down.

How to build concrete steps

STEP 3. CREATING THE FORMS for the concrete stairs. You can use either 3/4 inch plywood, 2 x 8 or 2 x 6 to build the forms for the concrete stairs. The slope and run of the stairs will determine which material is best to use.

If you are building concrete steps out of plywood, cut out the sides of the stairs first. Measure and cut according to the overall height and length of the stair you determined in STEP 1. When you’re done, the plywood should look like a silhouette of the stairs.

If using 2 x 8’s, cut the bottom length first as that will be the longest, then stack the remaining 2 x 8’s according to the yardage (12 inches less) than the one below. Screw them together with 2×4 and you have your sides.

Once the side forms are complete set them in place, plumb them and drive 2×4 stakes into the ground on the outside of the forms to hold them in place. Fasten the risers to the side-forms with nails or screws. You may need to rip the 2×8 if the pitch is less than 7 1/2 inches and more than 5 1/2 inches (2×6).

After the shapes are nailed, staked, and set in place, level them with a construction level or laser level. Remember that the stairs should be a little away from the house so that the water drains and does not form a puddle.

Use lots of 2×4 clamps to keep the forms from flexing as the weight of the concrete will want to push the forms outward.

How to pour concrete steps

STEP 4. POURING THE CONCRETE into the concrete stairs. Concrete step construction can be done by mixing the concrete from bags you purchase or by calling a Redi-Mix concrete company and having them deliver the concrete pre-mixed on a concrete truck.

Having done both, I would suggest calling a redi-mix concrete company if the stair is made of more than 20 bags of concrete. It’s much less labor intensive and much faster than mixing by hand.

Start pouring the concrete in the bottom step first. Solidify the concrete by tapping the outside of the molds with a hammer and spading the concrete on the inside of the molds with a shovel.

Continue this process through each step, aiming upward at the forms, until you have filled the forms to the top.

Some of the concrete may sag under the risers when pouring, don’t worry, this is normal. Allow the concrete to sit for 20-30 minutes and then re-strip. It should now be stiff enough to hold without sagging.

Smooth the surface of the concrete with a hand float and bring the “cream” to the top. Leave this on for a while until all the blood water has evaporated.

How to finish concrete steps

STEP 5. FINISHING THE CONCRETE – PThe final finish on the concrete is key to a good looking staircase.

The concrete should be dry enough that no water is visible on the concrete surface and wet enough to work on some cream if you smooth the surface.

After leveling the surface, use a broom and drag it across the surface of the concrete to give it a non-slip texture.

Remove the risers, make sure the concrete is built up enough so that the concrete doesn’t sag or submerge. (about an hour after you water them).

Once the riser boards are removed you can smooth and brush this surface or use a wet sponge to work up some cream and sponge out air pockets and voids. The sponge gives you a unique texture that is slightly different from the broom texture.

STEP 6. CURING THE CONCRETE by keeping it moist. After finishing, allow the concrete to cure overnight.

The next day, remove the side-forms, patch any voids with a concrete patching material, and keep the concrete wet by hosing down with water. The longer you keep it wet, the better it is for the concrete (preferably 2-5 days).

After a few weeks you can apply a concrete sealing to protect the concrete and to facilitate cleaning.

Building concrete steps can be fun. Take your time and review all of your measurements, use lots of braces, and find someone to help you. Concreting is always easier with an extra person.

Forming concrete steps and a concrete terrace

This video shows you how I form a series of concrete steps with a fixed patio slab.

Pouring and finishing concrete steps along with a fixed patio slab

Watch as we pour the concrete for this concrete staircase and accompanying patio slab.

Then see how we finish the concrete for the stairs and patio.

More information on concrete steps and stairs:

Click on CONCRETE PORCH STEPS to see more great ideas.

Click on PREFAB CONCRETE_STEPS to learn more about the advantages of prefabricated concrete stairs.

Click on PRECAST CONCRETE STEPS to learn more about these beautiful steps.

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