Oct 2, 2010

Brick Paver Steps Down to Basement Walkout Patio Replaced

New Brick Pavers Steps lead to Paver Patio

In Ann Arbor this past week, we replaced some unsightly and dangerous patio block steps that had deteriorated and eroded. These dilapidated steps lead down to a basement walkout paver patio that was also repaired and increased in size.  The step replacement was the customer's immediate need for our services.

The old brick steps were loose, sunken, and slippery which all contributed to an unsafe path down to the brick paver patio.  I see these make shift steps all the time leading from an upper grade down to the lower level.  A good design and execution of installing proper paver steps is essential for long-term success & beauty.

I decided to use UNILOCK's Siena Stone Coping Step Units for this particular application.  They are large massive units that when properly installed, should not fail. They have preset 7.5" rises, 4ft wide, and are 20" deep for a comfortable & safe tread.  These particular units weigh over 300lbs and require equipment placement or brute strength to set in place.  We used the latter with some aid from a tree ball cart.

We needed to strategize the placement of these concrete stone steps by evaluating the total height and slope.  Each set of these paver steps would require small brick paver pads in between to transition to each set of steps.  Because the grade in this area was inconsistent, we had a 2-5-2 placement of stone steps. An experience brick paver contractor can foresee or adjust to challenges when if comes to installing landscape steps.

The biggest challenge for designing & installing paver steps is to create a structure that can deter erosion.  Because of the natural slope of grades, water will travel faster and therefore challenge the ground or landscape.  I use two different application approaches when designing & installing paver steps.
Beating the Grade

The first is called "beating the grade" which I have coined over the years for installing the steps and/or paver pads above the grade. Thus, "beating" the grade so water flow does not go over the brick paver step installation but around.  This method is better suited for grades that are gradual and not steep. This is the method we used in today's job post.

Inset Steps
When the grade is steep, the second method  called "encasing or insetting" is the better approach. This "encasing or insetting" method is installing your paver steps "into" the grade and creating sidewalls to prevent erosion onto the paver steps or paver pads. This method is more expensive due to more product needed and added labor but the aesthetic value and appearance is unmatched.

Which ever method is used for installing brick steps down a grade, proper landscaping around the borders and edges is crucial.  Grass, wood mulch, or stone mulch is needed to protect any areas where water may erode.  If you experience any signs of erosion around or on top of your newly installed paver steps, make sure you address the area immediately to avoid unnecessary and costly future paver repair.

In terms of paver maintenance for steps, keep paver joint sand swept into the brick paver pads in between. The step stones or step blocks & caps do not need sand swept inside them but make sure the caps are secure and blocks do not gap. Keep one thing in mind, if a lower paver step begins to excessively settle or move, upper paver steps will soon follow so do not wait to address this need for repair.