How to Build Brick Retaining Wall Steps

A brick retaining wall can transform the inclines and unleveled land around your house into flat areas. Along with the brick retaining wall, steps will also enhance the beauty of the landscape and make it convenient for you to reach various areas. It is easier to build the steps when you are constructing the retaining wall. Here is how to build brick retaining wall steps.

Materials and Tools

  • Bricks
  • Trowel
  • Mortar
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Measuring Tape
  • Level
  • Hammer

Step 1: Planning the Layout

Decide on the type and design of the steps. Some options you can choose from include flowing curves or straight side walls with the steps built into the retaining walls. You can also have stairs projecting outside or sweeping with the wall. It is better if the steps are made with the wall to maintain uniformity. In this case, the height will be about 7 inches, using two layers of bricks. The foot depth will be 10 inches. We are making the "getting in" type of stairs with a rectangular wall. You can work out the number of steps based on the elevation of the top area and the height of the bricks. You will get the number of steps by dividing the height of gradient by 7 inches in this case.

Step 2: Deciding the Position of Stairs and Excavating

When you have worked out the number of steps, width, height and depth of the steps, cut the steps into the ground at their exact location according to their size and layout. Excavate the soil from that location.

Mark the wall lines with stakes and nylon string using spray paint. Make the trench for its base. Dig a trench that is about 6 inches deep and one foot wide.

Also dig a base trench about 6 inches deep and 18 inches wide for the steps. Fill the base trench with coarse gravel and sand. Fill the trench for the wall as well. Compact the ground and make it even, checking with a level. Put a layer of mortar over it.

Start building the layer of bricks for the first step by keeping their ends facing outwards. Lay the bricks one by one, filling the gaps between them with mortar. Lay another line of bricks behind the front bricks in longitudinal direction so that the depth becomes 12 inches. Fix another layer of bricks over it after spreading the mortar such that the joints are staggered. You can use a half-foot brick at the edge. Fill all joints with the mortar. Align and level all the bricks for the step. At the same time, you can lay the two layers of bricks for the wall. Make it 9 inches thick. Attach the bricks in the adjoining wall to the steps and align its face maintain its level and alignment. Fill the soil along the wall base and in front of first step, and then compact it.

Step 3: Installing the Second Step

Prepare the base for installing the second step by putting gravel behind the first step and compacting it. Apply the mortar and level it with the top of the first step. Install the mortar to fix the bricks for the second step on this base. In this step lay the front row of bricks lengthwise and the rear row in a perpendicular fashion. Fill the gaps with mortar. The joints should be staggered. The brick layer on the second step should overlap the inner edge of first step by 2 inches, leaving 10 inches depth of step. Fix another layer of the bricks on the second step by staggering them. Make step height 7 inches. You should also fix the two layers of bricks on the wall.

Step 4: Installing the Next Step

Continue the procedure as given in Step 2 until you lay the last step level with the ground above. You should also complete the wall with the steps.

Step 5: Finishing the Steps

Join the soil level with the topmost step and compact it. All joints in the bricks for the steps and the wall should be filled with mortar and leveled. The steps should merge properly with the retainer wall.