How to Build Brick Steps
Brick steps add a very attractive look to a home and will last for a long time. They require very little in the way of maintenance and always get admiring glances. You can employ someone to add brick steps to your house or you can do it yourself. It doesn’t take any advanced masonry skills and the results are often spectacular.
You will need to create a cement foundation for your brick steps. To do this, establish where the steps will meet the ground, and how much ground area the brick steps will occupy. Dig out the earth to a level below the frost line and make a frame of 2x4-inch lumber to line the hole for the foundation.
Mix the cement and pour it into the foundation, filling to the grass line. Level with your screed and leave it to cure for at least 24 hours although longer is preferable to obtain a full cure.
How Many Bricks?
You need to determine how many bricks you’ll need to build your steps. To do this, measure the total rise which is the height from the foundation to the level the steps will reach. Next, determine the rise of the steps. This will generally be between 6 to 7.5-inches.
Now determine the width of the steps. Take some bricks to lay out a sample step and count them. Lower-sized steps will require more bricks. From this, you will be able to calculate how many bricks you need for each step and riser, and how many steps you’ll have to build in total. Put together your figures and you’ll be able to come up with a total for the number of bricks required for the building the steps.
Laying the Bricks
Before you lay a single brick, wet all the bricks with a hose about 2 hours before you plan to begin working. To start, mix the mortar and spread a layer 0.5-inches deep on top of the foundation. Next, begin to lay your first layer of brick according to your chosen pattern.
Tap each brick into place gently with the mallet, leaving 0.5-inches between each brick. You will need to use the trowel to fill this space with the mortar as you go. Keep using the level to check the bricks are straight and even in all directions.
Continue building up step by step, keeping each step one size smaller than the one below it until you’ve mortared in all the steps. After finishing each step, check them again with the level to be certain it’s straight in all directions.
Finishing the Steps
Once you’ve laid all the brick steps, you still need to finish them. Use a concave jointer to 'tool' all the exterior joints. This means wiping off the excess mortar from the joins so that it presses inward slightly.
Allow the mortar to set for a few hours. Before it hardens completely, you will need to remove any excess water from the exterior bricks using a brush and water. This will give a clean look to the brick steps. Leave the mortar to harden fully before using the steps.