How to Install Brick Paver Steps

What You'll Need
Brick pavers
Hand trowel
Rubber mallet
Hand brush
Tape measure

Installing brick paver steps is a do-it-yourself job that requires a plan. Once you know what you want your brick steps to look like, the excavation, foundation and paving processes can proceed in succession. Moreover, having a plan will help you work out any foreseeable problems the laying of the pavers may pose. Something may always come up, but you will be well prepared to deal with it. Laying brick pavers is a nice alternative to framing steps and pouring concrete. It is arguably less labor intensive and achieves a more elegant look. 

Step 1 - Plan the Steps

Before striking ground, plan how the steps will look by making a simple sketch. Will the steps go straight up, or will they curve? Take adjacent landscaping into consideration and the slope of the hill the steps will climb. Decide how wide and deep each step will be and the height of each rise. You will have to factor in the thickness of the brick paver and a shallow bed of sand to the height calculation. When determining the width and depth of each section of tread, consider the dimensions of each brick. Eight by sixteen inches is a common size for a brick paver. Considering each step should be at least 2 feet wide and 16 inches deep, 3 of these bricks side-by-side would make one step. Or you can make each step bigger and lay out the bricks in a different pattern. However you decide to do it, make sure it works with the planned dimensions. 

Step 2 - Stake Out the Path

Set stakes in the ground on either side of what will be the steps. Lay as many as you need to keep to the path as you dig. Connect each stake with a length of string to use as a guide. 

Step 3 - Excavate

With the shovel, roughly dig out the form of the steps. Follow the guide provided by the lines. Use the hoe or the trowel to level out each step. Keep a carpenter’s level handy to measure your progress. When digging out the space for each step, try not to disturb the grass (if there is grass) at the rise point between each. 

Step 4 - Fine Tune Your Work

With the tape measure, make sure the width and depth are accurate to your plans. The height of each rise between steps can vary, but make sure it is not so high that it is uncomfortable. Remember that each paver is about 2 inches thick, so consider that when determining the rise. Check each step with a level, adding dirt where necessary. Use either a scrap piece of 2 by 4 or a brick and compact the dirt down on each step. Stand back and make sure it looks good according to your plan. 

Step 5 - Add a Bed of Sand

On each step, add a layer of sand and spread it out evenly over the entire excavated area. It should be about 1 inch thick. Make sure it is level. 

Step 6 - Lay the Brick Pavers

In the pattern you had conceived of, begin to lay the brick pavers from the bottom step up. Arrange them as you wish, working them into the bed of sand. Each time you place one up against another, check the level between them. Each brick should be snugly up against the next. 

Step 7 - Sand in the Wedges

Even though the brick pavers are immediately touching, there will be cracks between them. Sprinkle a little sand on each step and sweep it into the cracks between the bricks with the brush. Repeat this until the cracks are filled. Lightly tamp down on each brick paver with the rubber mallet to make sure it’s set. Spray the entire set of steps with a fine mist so that the sand settles between the cracks. Afterward, sprinkle more sand to fill in any gaps that appeared. 

If you measured correctly, the brick pavers on each step will fit snugly into an excavated area of the slope. The sand between the cracks of the pavers will help to secure the bricks as well. Installing steps into a grassy hill lets you leave the grass intact where there is a rise between each step.