Concrete porch steps provide reliable access to your doorway, and are easy to build on the spot. Follow these guidelines to create your own poured concrete steps in a weekend.
Step 1: Measure the Stairway Location and Arrange Construction Access
If you are replacing existing steps, measure and note their dimensions carefully. If the entryway has an outward opening screen door, add 20 inches in depth (front to rear) to create a landing at the top. Purchase the handrail if it must be set into the wet concrete. Arrange access for the concrete truck or have a wheelbarrow and ramp handy to bring the concrete to the stairway location.
Step 2: Prepare the Ground Base for the Concrete
Dig all grass and dirt away from the stairway base, down 2 inches below the level of frost. Make the ground base 6 inches wider than the stairway base. Measure the height of the steps (the rise), with a straight 2 by 4 piece of lumber. Mark the level height with a pencil, along the bottom of the carpenter's level. Dig from the house to the full length of the stairway base (the run). Compress soil till level.
Step 3: Construct the Concrete Support Forms
Drill 3 holes at least 3 inches deep across the foundation of the house. Insert the 3 bars, and place the moisture-resistant barrier against the foundation. Make the support forms from the plywood, extending from the wall to the landing edge. Cut 2 notched supports for the stair risers and treads, and finish the fronts with 2 by 8s. Shave off 1/8 inch so the step treads will dip to allow water runoff. Brace all risers and sidewalls with angled planks and stakes.
Step 4: Fill the Support Forms
Fill the support forms with concrete rubble, bricks or gravel 4 inches away from the forms and 4 inches below the finished concrete top. Paint on motor oil to coat the inside of the wooden forms. Pour the concrete in slowly starting at the bottom front of the stairway. Let each layer solidify before pouring the next layer. Compress the concrete slightly while pouring. Smooth the surface with the concrete leveling trowel. Eliminate air pockets by tapping the front riser planks.
Step 5: Remove the Supports
Remove the front riser supports once the steps can stand. Finish the stair tops with the finishing trowel. Plane the step angles with a step trowel. Smooth outside edges with the edger. Remove the side supports when the concrete has fully hardened. Patch any rough spots or depressions with concrete patch putty.