In a garden setting concrete stairs can provide a durable and inexpensive addition to the landscape. The range of choices when choosing concrete steps allows a homeowner to customize the steps to add beauty and function to his particular landscape.
Concrete steps are constructed in two ways. The most common method is to build a wood form in the shape of the proposed steps and to pour prepared concrete into the forms. Another popular way to install concrete stairs is to buy precast steps. In the garden this may mean simply buying the treads (flat steps) and contouring the soil to lay the slabs creating simple steps. Other prefabricated stairs include an entire set of steps and railings that are premade and installed on site.
Types of Finishes
Concrete steps that are preformed came in an amazing selection that mimic natural materials but cost less. You can choose from different colors of brick or something more natural looking such as river rock, cobblestone, or fieldstone. If traditional rectangular steps are installed they don’t have to be boring. Staining concrete with epoxies or some kind of dye is a popular way to get just the color and aesthetic that the homeowner desires. Acrylic stains helps to hide imperfections in the concrete as they seep into the concrete. An acid stain reacts with the lime in the concrete and creates an interesting dappled effect but it can highlight any imperfections in the concrete such as patching. Concrete steps can also be scored or stamped to resemble stone or brick. Usually these kinds of forms are sponged with coordinating colors to get a natural look. Other finishes include adding rock salt to the concrete as it is poured to create pitted more natural finish.
Functional Types of Steps
When pouring concrete or ordering prefabricated concrete stairs you can put in additives that will protect the concrete from salt or the chemicals used to melt snow. One problem with outdoor steps is that they may be slippery during rainy weather. When constructing the steps aggregate stone can be added to the surface to add traction. Traction can also be added by applying a rougher finish, adding a sealant with sand or clear grit embedded in it, or painting them with special paint.
Types of Handrails
Whether or not you add a handrail will depend on the setting of the steps but the most common rail is wrought iron or galvanized pipe. This kind of handrail is embedded in the concrete as they steps are poured to created stability. If you are using concrete slabs set into the ground as your steps then a post set into the ground and connected by cable or rope might be suitable handrail.
Concrete steps can provide years of service to a garden. Planning the style, placement, and finish of the steps will help the homeowner achieve a landscape that reflects the gardener within.