Monday, March 31, 2014

Tips On Building Dry Stack Stone Walls #7: More On Steps

In the last post we looked at a set of steps with three treads:
 and this time let's look at a longer set of steps. 
Please refer to the previous post as some of the important fundamentals for steps 
that I included there will not be repeated here.

The posts to date in this continuing series for the owner builder are:

When laying out a set of steps it is important to have an idea of the total rise 
of the area where the steps will be, and in this case the bank is about 4'+ high.
 I divide that number by the rise of each step which for landscaping purposes I often use 8"+/-.
With that I can figure that I need six steps (48" divided by 8" = 6 steps)
 In this case my treads are 16" long so my total run will be 8' (6 x 16" = 96").

As you can see above, I have measured out 8' to locate my first tread 
and that should ultimately put the top step right at the top of the bank.
For a stairway in the home this all has to be very exact, with a very different rise to run ratio,
but in landscaping there is more wiggle room to adjust either the total rise or the total run 
by slightly altering the landscape itself (when possible).
I could add inches at the bottom by gently sloping the path up to the first step
 and at the top by adjusting the height of the path up or down.

A big mistake in laying out steps is not doing an accurate layout.
You don't want to end up with the top tread cramped for space
 or too far away from the top of the bank. 

In the above photo I have the first two steps set 
and as I stated above I am using an 8" rise and an 16" long tread.
Please refer to the previous post:
for more on how to select and set the steps, the rise and run,
 and the difference between indoor and outdoor steps.

Also as I stated in the previous post it is important to tip the tread down about 1/4" to 3/8" 
from the front, or nosing, to the back where the next riser goes up. 

Again I am working from bottom to top and I am using a hand truck
 to get the large step stones to the top of the hill 
so I can roll them down into place in a pre arranged order.

Above you can see I have three treads set, 
and I have started to build a side wall to stabilize the the bank before going further.
I am backfilling between the side wall and the bank with carefully placed ruble
 to provide firm support and to allow water to easily drain away.

I had set aside at the stone pile some of the "blockier" stones 
just to be able to use them in this part of the project as this was an area I wanted to highlight.
I also wanted a set of flat tops on this wall to set potted plants on
 because of it's visibility from the house and front yard.

In the photo above note how the flat middle stone on the side wall
 has been "locked" into place with a small stone set upright
 that extends down into the wall below.
It is rather hard to see but that lock will help prevent the flat stone 
from working it's way out over time.

The side wall not only holds the steps firmly in place 
but it also serves as a buttress to the retaining wall leading up to the steps.

I filled in around the steps with ruble and on top of that I covered the ruble 
with the small chips and flakes that were left over from chiseling.

These following two posts include more photos from this section of wall to the left of the steps,
 both showing the building and more finished photos:

Here are links to the complete series of this project for the owner builder: