How to Construct a Concrete Staircase: A Step-By-Step Guide

One way to enhance the curb appeal of your home is by building a concrete staircase that connects the front yard to the entrance of your house. Admittedly, building concrete steps is a lot more challenging than pouring a sidewalk. However, you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself and it’s not as complicated as you might think.

All you need is the right materials and some meticulous planning. Here’s a beginner’s step-by-step guide to pouring concrete steps.

Step 1: Planning Your Concrete Staircase

Figuring out the different dimensions is the first step. Keep in mind that the final plan should comply with your local building codes concerning the measurements.

  1. Measure the total “rise.” This is the height of the top landing to the base.
  2. Measure the total “run.” This is the front to back distance that the staircase spans.
  3. Measure the width that encompasses the left and right sides of the stairs.
  4. Determine the number of stairs you need by dividing the total rise with the “riser” height. The riser height is how tall each step will be and is typically between six to eight inches. If the result is a decimal, round it up to a whole number.
  5. Divide the total run with the number of stairs to determine the tread depth. The tread is the horizontal surface of each step. The depth should be at least eleven inches to accommodate small and big feet.
  6. If you feel that the calculated tread depth is too long or too short, you can do two things. You can either adjust the total run or lengthen or shorten the tread of the top landing.

Step 2: Preparing the Base

After the planning phase is over, it’s time to work up some elbow grease. Start by staking out the four corners of the base of your steps. You’ll need to prepare this area to receive the concrete.

Take out all the grass and debris and dig about six inches of topsoil from the surface. Level the area and fill it with crushed rock or gravel. This should provide a solid base.

Step 3: Building the Step Forms

Use the dimensions in step 1 to create a wooden form. This is the framework that the concrete can mold into. You can use either ¾ inch plywood, 2×8 inch, or 2×6 inch boards.

Start with the side forms first. You can just cut it out if using plywood or by stacking boards of different lengths on top of each other.

Set the side forms in place then attach the riser boards using nails or screws. Use bracing as necessary along the perimeter of the base and at the center. You can also build a rebar cage inside the form as reinforcement to minimize concrete stair repair.

Step 4: Mixing and Pouring the Concrete

You can buy concrete that’s pre-mixed or you can mix it by hand. Refer to this guide on how to properly mix concrete.

Pour concrete starting from the bottom and going up one step at a time. Make sure that the concrete is spread evenly and packed tightly. Smoothen out the surface by using a hand float.

Let it dry a bit then drag a stiff brush on the surface to create a texture with improved traction. You can remove the forms after one day but let the concrete fully cure for about 28 days.

Step It Up

The last step is to enjoy your new concrete staircase! For more home living and DIY articles, feel free to browse our site.