Brick stairs on top of concrete patio slab concerns?

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Old 09-09-12, 09:24 AM
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Brick stairs on top of concrete patio slab concerns?

Hi everyone!

I am working with a mason on installing two sets of brick stairs (two steps per stair) from my back patio slab to my two doors. The first stair is a traditional door approximately 36" wide. The second stair is the width of a sliding door approximately 60" wide. The treads would be capped with 2" thick sandstone.

The plan was to build the stairs on the slab directly and not attach them to the house, allowing them to float with the slab.

I live in Northern Ohio. The slab was poured in 2008. It is 4" thick and has the wire mesh and control joints. I do not believe that it was attached directly to the house foundation via rebar or other methods. I have not had any issues since its install with heaving or shifting of the control joints over multiple winters.

What kind of concerns would you see with this type of design? If the slab has not heaved since it was poured, what is the likelihood it would? The backyard was highly compacted due to machinery when my home was built and much of my soil is yellow/grey clay where they poured the slab.

My mason has recently voiced his concern that if I don't cut out the concrete and pour an appropriate footer that after one or two winters, the brick is going to start cracking. If it is floating on the slab, I just can't see how the brick will get the stresses that would cause it to crack?

Thanks for your comments!

Ron
 
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Old 09-09-12, 11:00 AM
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I'm with the mason on this one. If the new steps will be moving (floating) at their interface with the house, which obviously isn't floating, there are likely to be problems caused when the contact faces rub against eachother. Tiny cracks and spalling at first, then getting worse over time and freeze-thaw cycles. Dislodging of the surfacing stone is a possibility, which is why your mason wants to go with footings.

I'm curious about your choice of sandstone for the step surfaces. Way too soft and prone to wear, in my opinion. Unless you have access to some harder stuff than what I'm familiar with.
 
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Old 09-09-12, 11:11 AM
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Thank you for the reply BridgeMan45.

I was under the impression that the stairs would actually be offset from the house and some kind of gasket or caulking would be used to seal the space behind it. He didn't go into explicit detail when I asked him initially, but I was going to keep an eye on that as the build went on. There are cheapo pressure treated lumber stairs from the build right now and they are attached to a 2x8 or 2x10 fixed directly to the sheathing on the house.

If he puts in a footer, would he then have to bind the footer to the foundation of the house to prevent it from still moving independently of the house?

The sandstone selected was a grey sandstone that is very fine grain and was really tight like limestone. I have sandstone in the landscape with other features and wanted to tie it all in together. My mason recommended this particular stone over the one whose color would have been a better match since it was more crumbly -more sandy.

Thanks,
Ron
 
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Old 09-09-12, 11:36 AM
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Installing a thick expansion filler/bond breaker between the steps and existing foundation would minimize the problems associated with differential movement between the surfaces. But in itself can result in other problems, like moisture and water (from melting snow) getting in between and freezing, resulting in a tendency for the filler material to be displaced--I've seen it happen many times over the last 40 years. Do you want a built-in maintenance headache (scraping, caulking, sealing, etc.) every year, or would you rather just kick back and enjoy the look and function of the nice facility you're about to pay some serious money for?

Should you decide to do it the right way, the new footings should definitely be tied to the existing house foundation. Your local AHJ probably can tell you with a phone call what their minimum requirements are. If it were mine, some No. 4 L-shaped rebar dowels, drilled and anchored every 12" or so would be going in.
 
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