Replace landscape steps

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Old 12-13-16, 09:38 AM
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Question Replace landscape steps

These steps were existing when I bought the property.

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They were built on a foundation of landscape timbers just sitting on the ground. As a result, they are rotting from the ground up. The deck boards are mostly fine, but the landscape timbers are rotting.

I want to replace them with something longer-lasting, but I'm not sure what. I priced out pavers and natural stone, but it's more money than I'd prefer to spend. (I've got nearly 200' of distance to cover!) So I'm trying to determine the best way to do it with with wood or composite.

One option is to build each step like a little deck, with four 4x4 posts supporting joists and deck boards on top. But that's a lot of holes to dig! (I'll probably have about 40-50 steps.) And then I still worry about the posts rotting over time. I know there are several ways to do this. One is to put some rocks down at the bottom of the hole, then put in cement like you would a fence post or mailbox. A longer-lasting option would be to use concrete form tubes to make footers and bolt the 4x4s onto a stand-off at the top of the footers. Then you have no wood-to-earth contact, which is better, but that adds a lot of work and expense.

Then there are some options with composites. One is to use the fence post method, which is less labor intensive than the concrete footer method, but use composite 4x4s as posts. Another option is to build the steps as they are now, but with composite landscape timbers. That requires virtually no digging or concrete, but potentially more composite material.

Any thoughts on these options or suggestions for other options?

Thanks!
 
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Old 12-13-16, 04:17 PM
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Being down south you dont have frost issues so that helps. 40-50 steps with any kind of post/footer is a HUGE amount of work.

I've build 4x6 frames and filled with stone which is relatively easy and provides a very solid footing and eliminates needing to have any stain/finish.
 
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Old 12-13-16, 08:17 PM
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That would be a ton of stone. Actually, to be precise, I got a quote to do something similar and it was 4.2 tons of stone!
 
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Old 12-14-16, 03:54 AM
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Is that a Power Company lake? I see no draw down like we have in the mountains on TVA. Do you have any lakeside issues connecting the walkway to the dock system?

7 tons of stone will cost you about $200, so that isn't the big expense. I like the idea of framing and putting in gravel (possibly #57) in the void. It won't need any tamping as it will be compressed as you put it in the form.
 
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Old 12-14-16, 08:40 AM
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Marq1, what kind of wood would you build the 4x6 out of? Pressure treated pine? Something else? How long do you think they'd last being in contact with the ground?

chandler, yes, it's a Georgia Power lake. They used to draw it down a few feet each winter, but not anymore. Occasionally (maybe once every few years) they'll draw it down so people can work on seawalls, etc.

I was thinking more of the handling of that much stone, but I guess I'd only be dealing with a wheelbarrow at a time. I also worry about the stone getting kicked out all over the place over time.
 
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Old 12-14-16, 03:51 PM
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Our lakes need drastic drawdowns starting on Labor Day due to winter rain and snow run off from the mountains.

I had a similar question posed to me when I chose to put pea gravel in our church's day care school playground. Previously they had nasty pine bark. Everyone said the kids would be throwing it all out into the parking lot. It's been there for 6 years with no problems, and the kids are cleaner when they return to class . So normal traffic would probably not affect #57 gravel contained on the sides too much.
 
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Old 12-14-16, 05:26 PM
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Treated wood is really only needed when buried in the ground but even pine would last 20+ years sitting in the open.

I'd see what is available in your area and go from there.
 
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Old 12-14-16, 06:49 PM
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Any lumber used outside should be pressure treated. If it is in contact with the ground it should be rated as such.
 
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Old 12-15-16, 03:12 AM
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I agree!! Unless it's a naturally weather resistant wood like cedar, redwood or cyprus - decking needs to be pressure treated! I've seen non PT wood used on decks/fences that needed boards replaced within a few years
 
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Old 12-30-16, 07:07 PM
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I would just jack those platforms up with a car jack or something or a big fulcrum, then prop them up with some wood while saws all'ing the rotten wood away. Replace rotted wood with pressure treated GROUND CONTACT 4x4s, or 6x6s. Possibly woodlife coppercoat seal the wood first. Or just replace the rotted wood with cinderblocks and hide the cinderblocks by covering with wood that matches the deck boards and don't have that wood touch the ground. Or put a nice stucco over the cinderblocks.

If you use 'landscape timers' that are rated for ground contact, keep in mind those usually have way less amounts of treatment in them and will rot out faster than a true ground contact 4x4 fence posts (or 6x6). I'm really hesitant to put wood directly on the ground though regardless of chemical amounts or sealers. We had a call back on a deck that was built only a few years prior and under the 2 story deck was a scrap pt 2x4 sitting on the ground that was rotted quite bad (not reason for call back but just saying). however a pt 6x6 should take many decades to rot out if you want to use those.


I'm not sure what the rotted pieces look like that are the problem. If they are horizontally stacked timers that fill the whole are (riser) of the step, then you could, like you said, replace them with vertical 4x4 posts, and use premade concrete 4x4 piers and then brace the vertical posts and then if you want, hide that framing by putting horizontal boards over them.

Other than that, it all look nice. Maybe just re stain and seal it or repaint it with Deck Restore 10X (or 4X) which can get pricey but the stuff is long lasting and like goop and grippy and makes it look almost like composite.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 03:25 AM
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Deck Restore 10X (or 4X) which can get pricey but the stuff is long lasting
That product is way over rated and wears out quite quickly. I would not recommend it for a waterside application like his.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 03:27 AM
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I wouldn't recommend those types of coatings for any application where the wood is exposed to the weather! While it can give an initial nice look, once the coating starts to fail [and it will] it will be a nightmare getting the wood to look good again.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 06:12 AM
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however a pt 6x6 should take many decades to rot out if you want to use those.
Really? My contractor says pt 6x6s would only last about 15 years at the most.

That product is way over rated and wears out quite quickly. I would not recommend it for a waterside application like his.
I don't plan on using it for this project, but I did put Deck Restore 10x on both my floating dock and my deck and it has shown zero signs of wearing out after several years.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 04:09 PM
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The rustoleum restore paint, on concrete I've seen it peel bad in testimonies. For wood though the 10X says it lifetime warranty if applied according to the label.

Deck & Concrete Restore 10X has a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Rust-Oleum Corporation guarantees product performance for the product in this can only as long as you own or reside in your home when our product was applied according to the label directions. You will receive as your exclusive remedy either a refund of the original purchase price or replacement with a product of equal value. We do not guarantee the product against factors beyond our control, such as damage to the product by others, poor condition of the substrate, structural defects, improper application, etc. We will not be responsible for labor or the cost of labor for removal or application of any product, or replacement of any wood structure.

https://www.rustoleum.com/pages/home...x-faqs/?page=8


"My contractor says pt 6x6s would only last about 15 years at the most."

the 6x6s even at home depot says Ground Contact •Lifetime limited warranty $21 each 8 footer
WeatherShield 6 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. #2 Pressure-Treated Timber-260691 - The Home Depot


still though I am weary of wood on the ground as I said, I would prop those platform with vertical 4x4s on concrete piers /cinder blocks, and then you can hide that frame with planks if you want, leaving the planks above the dirt. Or at least put gravel under the 6x6 or 4x4 and wood preserver. but it would be easier and less materials and worry to make legs on piers.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 04:54 PM
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the 6x6s even at home depot says Ground Contact •Lifetime limited warranty $21 each 8 footer
WeatherShield 6 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. #2 Pressure-Treated Timber-260691 - The Home Depot
Yeah, but there are some reviews that say they rotted within a year and they would not honor the warranty!

I think we're going to go with these: Best Plastic Lumber U.S. | Sustainable Lumber Manufacturing

About twice the cost of wood, but should last 50+ years.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 04:10 AM
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Sounds like a Plan Mike. I have a client here on Lake Chatuge who wants to install marine grade Trex on a long walkway and dock. I gave him options showing the cost of PT versus Trex (7 times the difference), and he still wants Trex, so there must be something to be said for the plastic lumber.
 
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