Feel in over my head: How do I fix these block steps?

Old 06-09-15, 04:19 PM
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Feel in over my head: How do I fix these block steps?

The steps themselves are freshly poured concrete and in good shape, but the big blocks on either side are literally crumbling to the ground. I called a contractor to have a look and he quoted me almost $1500, which is way outside of my budget and seems unreasonable. I have never done a project like this, but figure that it might be doable (everybody has at some point "never done x").

I've searched for instructions on repairing steps like this, but most either involve pouring concrete or cinder blocks, neither of which is really what I need. It looks like the blocks are something like this, so I figure that the process will be somewhat similar to cinder blocks, but am not sure.

Here is my expected course of action (please let me know if and where I am going wrong):

1.) Remove the crumbling blocks with a cold chisel and wire brush. If a block is so much as partially "rotten" it will be easier to just get rid of it.
2.) Replace the blocks with something roughly the same size and shape. I am worried that I won't be able to find something appropriate. If so, would it be possible to split blocks easily or would I need a wet saw? It looks to me that the blocks adjoining the foundation itself are fine and so that I will likely just need to replace the blocks forming the two "steps." 3.) Mortar between the blocks and tuckpoint the outside.
4.) I understand that most modern construction put something in between the blocks and the steps themselves (putty? matting?), but I am not sure what. Also, I suspect that would go in before I actually laid the blocks. and then be covered with mortar by tuckpointing.

This all seems like it might be doable (maybe?), but it is certainly daunting. Am I pretty much right in the above steps or am I underestimating this project? Thanks!
Old 06-09-15, 04:44 PM
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"cinder block" has not been around for a long time.
Sure looks like someone has been using a lot of salt to deice the steps.
Old 06-09-15, 04:49 PM
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The pros on this will be along, But IMO, you might be able to save the bottom two steps and the slab under everything, but the two blocks on the sides and most likely the top 4 steps are in trouble. Plus, I would be very concerned about the house to steps interface. If not done correctly there will be some damage behind there.

Yes, you can DIY this with a temporary set of wood steps, as this will take more than a weekend.

Old 06-09-15, 04:52 PM
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It also looks like there is a separation in the steps where someone tried using caulk. While the steps above and below look intact something is moving.

As bad as your end sections look I wouldn't worry about repairing them. I'd remove them altogether. Save the top caps if you want to reuse them but I don't see much else worth saving. I know it sounds bad but that's actually good news. You don't have to be so careful during demolition trying to save blocks and you don't have to find matching ones. It also frees you up to get a little creative with the repair. Maybe use brick or a modern block with a decorative face.
Old 06-09-15, 05:04 PM
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I agree. I wouldn't replace the block (which isn't cinder block). Remove it & don't use a chisel. How about a jack hammer or chipping gun? After all the block has been removed, finish the sides of the stoop & make sure the railings are up to code.

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