Front Stoop Construction Tips
The curb appeal of your home can be dramatically improved by installing or repairing the entrance, and a front stoop is one of the best fashion fixes for an elevated house or apartment. If your house has an elevated entrance, you probably already have a series of steps leading up to the doorway.
Check the hardness of your existing concrete steps. You can use a small ball-peen hammer to knock at one of the sides. If any material flakes off or dents easily, it might be a good idea to just replace the entire stoop.
Look for mold or cracks. Many insects will use cracks in cement or mortar to gain access to the house. If the stoop is in good shape, but has fissures, these can be repaired easily with a silicone-based compound.
If the stoop needs to be completely replaced, you will need to have the following:
- Forming boards: These hold the cement in place as you cast each step up to 8 inches below the level of the door entrance. You will need stakes to hold them in place as you cast the concrete.
- Cement Mixer: It will not really be possible to mix the amount of cement you need with just a hoe and wheelbarrow. You can rent or buy one from the local supply store. If you plan on doing more than one stoop, it may be wiser to invest in your own.
- Trowels: You will need a triangular trowel, a floating wooden trowel and an edging trowel.
- Buckets: At least two 5 gallon pails make things go a lot smoother.
Step 1 - Mark off the area where the stoop is to go. This can be done with spray marking paint or stakes and string. The area should be well drained, and be of an even slope. Due to building regulations, the risers of each step can not exceed 8 inches per foot of level surface.
Step 2 - Cut the forming lumber, typically 2x8 inches, into the size of the steps you require. These "formers" will make the outline of the finished step at each level. They can be attached to the stakes used for the layout using long nails partially driven in, or simply held in place with large cinder blocks.
If you want to use the same former for each step, you can, but it will take longer. Each step has to dry for at least 24 hours prior to removing the former.
Step 3 - Pour the concrete into the former. Tamp it down with a small piece of 2x4-inch lumber, as this will help get out any air that is pocketed in the wet cement.
Step 4 - Screed the step with a wooden float, making sure that you end up with an even finish across the surface.
Step 5 - Run an edging trowel around the inside of each former after the concrete has firmed up. You may need to wet the trowel to get a smooth edge.
Step 6 - Repeat for every step leading up to the entrance door.
Step 7 - Keep the cement damp for the first 24 to 48 hours. This will keep the concrete from drying out too quickly and make the cured cement much harder.
Step 8 - Remove the forms after 24 hours.