How to Build Brick Steps with Tile Treads Part 3 How to Build Brick Steps with Tile Treads Part 3
In the last installment of this how to guide on how to build brick steps, you learned how to stake off the foundation, dig and level the footing area and how to make sure the soil was compacted. In this next segment, you will learn how to construct the foundation frame; pour the footing; start laying bricks for your first riser and how to set stone tiles for the treads. So, let's get started.
Step 1 - Build the Footer Frame
Measure and cut 2 x 6 pieces of lumber to the dimensions of your foundation. Nail the lumber together in the shape of a rectangle so that it matches the boundaries of your foundation. Place the frame inside the footer area. Make sure not to disturb the stakes and strings you set up earlier.
Step 2 - Fill Frame with Crushed Rock or Gravel
Fill the wooden foundation frame with 2 or 3 inches of crushed rock or gravel.
Step 3 - Compact Rocks
Use a weighted steel rolling pin or tamper tool to compact the rocks or gravel inside the wooden footer frame. If you don't have a tamper available, you should rent one from a local tool rental store.
Step 4 - Mix Concrete
Follow the directions on the bag of Portland cement for mixing the concrete. You can mix the cement in a wheelbarrow by adding sand and water. Use a paddle or shovel to mix the concrete thoroughly.
Step 5 - Pour Concrete in Frame
Pour the mixed concrete into the frame of your footer. Make sure to spread the concrete evenly. Tamp concrete down with your shovel.
Step 6 - Level Off Concrete Surface
Use a screed or another piece of lumber to level off the wet concrete with the top of the wooden footer frame. Try to make the top of the footer as smooth as possible. If you have a concrete float, this makes the job much easier. However, you can use a large trowel to smooth the surface of the foundation as well.
Step 7 - Allow Concrete to Dry
Allow the concrete foundation to cure for at least 24 to 48 hours before continuing.
Step 8 - Lay First Set of Bricks
After the foundation has cured, you can begin laying bricks for risers. Wet the bricks with water about two hours before using them. Then, do a dry run and place bricks inside the perimeter of your string boundary for the first tread. If you need to cut bricks (in order to match the dimensions of your tread) place shorter pieces of brick inside and not on the corners of the rectangle. When you're ready to actually affix the bricks to the foundation, spread about 1/2 inch of mortar and place the bricks. Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch gap between the bricks and fill the gaps with mortar as you go. Build up the bricks to your desired riser height.
Step 9 - Fill Riser with Crushed Rock
After the mortar for the bricks is set, fill the first riser with crushed rock to about 1/2 or 1 inch below the height of the riser. Use a tamping tool to compact the crushed rock as much as possible.
Step 10 - Apply Mortar
Continue filling the riser with mortar mix and also spread about one half of an inch of mortar on tops of the bricks used for the riser. Make sure to clean off any excess mortar that runs over the sides. Use a trowel to create notches on the surface of the mortar to help secure the tiles.
Step 11- Lay Stone Tiles on Tread
Carefully lay the stone tiles on top of the wet mortar mix and press them firmly in place. Be sure to use spacers and align the edges of the tiles with the bricks. Wipe off mortar that may ooze out from the underneath the tiles.