How to Build Brick Steps with Tile Treads Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.)

If you would like to build brick steps for your porch, shed or other area of your landscape, you could create some drab looking run-of-the-mill brick steps. However, if you want to create something much more appealing, try adding a layer of tile over the brick steps. The effect of tile treads over a brick set of steps is impressive and something that will make your neighbors envious. It's a moderately easy DIY project and can be completed in your spare time over the course of a couple of weekends. Here is a handy how-to guide that will show you how it's done.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Bricks
  • Concrete blocks
  • Stone tiles
  • Portland cement
  • Thinset tile mortar
  • Fine sand (or regular sand sifted through a screen)
  • Water and hose
  • 1 inch Rebar
  • 2 x 6 lumber
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Shovel
  • Wheel barrow
  • Level
  • Chalk line
  • Square notched trowel
  • Stakes and String
  • Mortar mixing paddle (or other type of mixer)
  • Rubber mallet

Step 1 - Choose and Clear the Location for the Steps

Determine where the steps will be located and make sure to clear away all debris and obstacles. If you are replacing a set of steps, remove and discard the steps. If the steps are made of wood, you may be able to use some the wood for the foundation of the steps.

Step 2 - Determine How Many Steps You Will Need

In order to determine how many brick steps you will need, you first need to calculate the total rise and run of the steps. In a sense, this is the height and depth of a stair case or set of steps. This will help you figure out how many steps will need to be installed so that people can comfortably and safely use them. You should contact the department in your city or county that is in charge of building codes and ask them what the required height for stairs or steps are. However, in most cases, the steps can usually be no higher than 8 inches per step (6 or 7 inches is much better though).

To calculate the total rise and run for the steps use the following method:

  • Measure the height from the bottom of the surface that the steps will sit on to the surface of your porch, shed or other area the steps will be used to access. This is the rise of the steps.
  • Divide the rise of the steps by the height one single step. For example, if the rise of the steps is 3 feet (36 inches), and your desired height for each individual step is 6 inches, then you would need a total of 6 steps (36 รท 6 = 6).
  • To determine the run (depth) of each step, subtract the rise amount from 17. So, if you have steps that are 6 inches in height, the run would be 11 inches deep (17 - 6 = 11). This is how deep the steps need to be. You can add an inch or two to make the steps easier to use if you like.

As a general rule of thumb, you can build the steps as wide (from side to side) as you like. However, just make sure they are wide enough to be used comfortably.