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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
What do we install these
Answered in 3 hours by:
3/26/2018
Thomas
Thomas, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 40
Experience: Owner/ Vice President
Verified

Hi and thank you for choosing JA! Using the pavers is much easier from a "handling" standpoint, but more extensive from a prep perspective. Whichever way you decide to go, I will try and outline both approaches. First things first, make sure you have dug your elevations where it is you need for the rise and run of your steps. In any stone or paver application...MOST IMPORTANT PART OF IT...is the sub-base! You will want to make sure you have a solid, compacted gravel base. This will provide a solid base for the pavers and the stone. If you do go with pavers, you will need to dig a 6" x 6-8" wide footer to build a brick and mortar riser and end caps, fill that with the stone material, and set your pavers on top of that. I find that to be the best approach to a solid stair systems with a paver "tread". If you are using the big stone stairs, a solid, compacted gravel base is really all you will need since typically the thickness of those large stones, as in the picture you provided, are large enough to for your rise without anything else needed. A little tip you may want to do when using the big stones, install a wedge under the back of the stone, so that it pitches just slightly to the front. This will insure water runs off and doesn't create a puddle near the riser. These will be solid...your biggest challenge will be handling them and moving them around. That said, once you have all your prep done and a solid compacted base for those steps, renting a tow motor or other lifting device would be very helpful. I would also suggest you talk to the supplier of the stone steps and ask them if they can assist you with setting them in place. Many of the suppliers also install, if they are a landscape specific company, and, for a small fee, probably close to what you would pay to rent a machine, can so the install of the steps relatively inexpensively if you are buying them from that company. I can't emphasize enough...please make sure you have a solid, compacted gravel base. It isn't a difficult project at all, just need to make sure your base is solid, it is measured properly for the depth of the stones, the stones pitch slightly back to front...and get some help to set those HEAVY pieces! I hope this has been helpful! Thank you for choosing JA!

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Paver floor, which I have all the base materials ready for this, I just didn’t know what to do for the stairs. Should I build retaining wall first then put steps between wall? Do I use dirt base or compact 57’s?
I would use the 57’s...just remember 57’s are not self compacting and do settle a lot so be sure to compact them. Yes, build your retention wall so the stone base has something to hold it in place. I do know people who use compacted soil under heavy stones, but I don’t like taking the chance of it degrading over time from water. I also will even mix in some concrete mix from a bag under my stone base just as added precaution if the area tends to be a “wetter” area of the yard or location...not necessary, just something I learned from someone years back.
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
What stone base are you referring to?

I'm sorry...probably confusing terminology on my part! When I refer to "stone base", I'm referring to the compacted 57's. In other words, build your retention wall, then start your sculpted area for the stairs within the retention wall. As mentioned, I take a bag of concrete mix and spread it over the dirt then add the stone (57's) and compact it. I'm not really sure how you are going to set the steps, but one way to make sure they are solid as possible, is to actually set your steps over the block retention. I'm not sure if you were going to have the retention wall exposed and decorative, or if it would be buried just to provide a solid barrier/ divide for the steps and the landscaping. Either way will be both nice looking and functional!

Thomas
Thomas, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 40
Experience: Owner/ Vice President
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Do I bring the retaining wall out as the wall of the steps? See my outline in red. It’s not the best drawing.
As my retention Wall is going around the wall where it will meet the steps, do I bring the wall out at a 90deg. I would have to build the side walls first so i can properly build up the gravel

This sketch is perfect! Yes...that is correct based upon the sketch...which now I see exactly what you are doing. So, you may actually have two options depending upon the type of material you are using for the retention wall. If it is a heavy enough stone, and flat on the top and bottom, you can set your steps directly on top of it. If it is a more decorative stone with less vertical load capacity (like a paver type stone), you can use a cinder block inside so the step slab rests on that with the decorative stone on the outside. Very similar to a typical brick application around the foundation walls of a house. Either way, build you retention wall at 90 degrees and start building your base inside the retention wall with the 57's and be sure to compact them. I am assuming your step slabs will basically be laid overlapping each other or butted up top of slab to bottom of the next step slab again assuming these slabs are the thicker 6 - 7" step slabs. Simply set your first step and fill behind it to the top of step elevation with the gravel and set your next step on top of it. The 90 degree retention wall would start underneath the second step since the first will be laid on the ground elevation. In other words, set your first slab then build the retention wall as you rise up with your steps. This will provide you with a nice "guide" as to the height of the retention wall without having to calculate or guess at exactly where the next step is going land, especially since most step slabs can be rough cut slabs.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
the steps are 48x17x6.5. I am a little confused. You state I can use cinder blocks or lay on wall block if heavy enough but use 57’s and compact.It is ok to use all 57’s correct and compact? Form the step layer into the compacted 57’s?I think the wall blocks we are using are roughly 17x10x6.
I probably won’t set the stone slabs on the wall blocks but since they are 1/2” thicker is that going to be an issue?I’m using about 5” of DGA for my base of pavers And wall blocks with an additional inch of sand for the pavers. I’ll want the first step to start at the top of the paver layer I assume. Where the steps are going do I not put the 5” of DGA or is it ok to start my 57’s on top of the DGA layer?

I'm sorry, just trying to provide all the options. Yes...just compact the 57's and set the step on top! If you are not setting the slabs on top of the retaining wall blocks, the thickness of the retaining wall blocks is not an issue since they are decorative and this is just fine. You can set the first step right on top of the pavers. You can start the 57's on the DGA, whatever is easiest. The DGA, in this application, is most likely as good as 57's. In our area, DGA is typically 3/4" and less (down to dust). 57's are more consistent. Either way is fine for your starting point.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok, I have a good idea of what to do.
Will it be an issue that the wall blocks have that lip on the back bottom to push against the block it sits on? therefore they will slightly stair step backwards.
Therefore my bottom wall blocks on both sides of my slap will be 48” apart, however and the steps go up and I stack the wall blocks the width will get slightly smaller. How would you address this?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Stone slab* not slap

Yes, these are not going to be the easiest to work with when fitting your steps inside that wall. If I'm hearing you correctly, the only way to make this work would be to actually cut the slabs to the length you need to accommodate the actual width. My suggestion would be to find a straight stacking stone that matches for your step retention wall or one that provides a nice contrast from the actual retention wall to create a more feature aspect for the steps.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok. Thanks for the help. And what do you use as a wedge to slightly angle the step forward?

Just build up that area with some of you DGA on top of the 57's or you can even just slightly pitch your compacted 57's. Sometimes it's easier if your cutting stones and pavers to make some thin wedges out of that scrap. If you don't have that, just try and pitch your base. This isn't absolutely necessary...but does keep the water from ponding at the risers!

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***your not you in the first sentence. I hate typos!!!

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There are a number of different design layouts you can incorporate, but it depends on the type and design of the stone you are using. It also depends on the level of experience you have to cut and fit the stones, specifically the transition points, from retaining wall to steps. I would also try and take into account the amount of space the stone steps will take coming out into the patio, and, of course, the size of the step slabs. That said, again depending on what is available, to add some "feature" look to the step, I would try and do a radius on each side of the steps transitioning wall to steps. Given the fact your retaining wall stones are the type that have a slight angle back, this may be more difficult...depending on what is available. The other option would be, as you mentioned earlier, a perpendicular to the retaining wall stair step at 90 degrees. This too will be a nice look and be your easiest and cleanest install.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I was thinking about giving it a radius. In saying this I think you are saying to curve the wall into the step wall. Therefore the top row of steps would be wider than the bottom row of steps

Exactly...that is why I gave my "disclaimer" about the type of wall material you are using, but, yes, that is what I was describing. It would require either a different size stone slab at the top or you may have to cut the slabs for the lower steps, but that was what I was describing. That is why I am suggesting you have to make the call as to how much work you want to do for that feature. A straight stair would be easier and give you a very nice look. Your call as to how much extra work you want to do to achieve the radius. Also, take into account if the stone step slabs have a finished end that might be exposed. If that is the case and you cut the lower steps, it make take away from the look if those ends are exposed and have a cut edge on them.

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