How to Build Patio Steps with Pavers

How to Build Patio Steps with Pavers (Full Guide)

In Lawn & Garden, Tips by Jamie

Whether you’re in a new home or making some changes to your current home, you might be wondering how to build patio steps with pavers to make your front or back area more appealing and stylish. Building patio steps with pavers gives you an end result that is both elegant and functional.

It might seem complicated to build these as a DIY, but we have made the steps simple with this guide. Just make sure to follow the steps exactly as stated and you will have the end result you are hoping for.

You might need to ask a relative or some friends for help in certain steps, but most of the parts can be done on your own which makes this a fun and efficient way to spruce up your home without contacting a construction company and paying for labor?

Ready to make your patio steps with pavers? Let’s get started.

Can You Make Steps with Pavers?

Yes, you can make steps with pavers. In fact, it’s a common way for people to make steps and to add a more stylish effect to their home. As long as you have some basic tools and a thorough guide (like this one) you should be able to easily make steps with pavers.

You will need to make a few simple calculations before getting started to make sure you have the right pavers that can fit the angles and curves of your stairs.

Here are some things to make sure you have before getting started with the process:

  • Pavers
  • Sand
  • Gravel (fine grain usually works the best)
  • Portland cement
  • Shovel
  • Hammer
  • Block of wood
  • Measuring tape
  • Cut off saw
  • Level
  • Wooden stakes
  • Trowel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Retaining wall bricks

Once you have your measurements and your supplies, you can get started with the considerations and the steps below.

What to Consider When Building Steps with Pavers?

Before getting started with building steps with pavers, you want to make sure you keep a few things in mind to ensure you are ready for the process. Make sure to investigate the few things below before you start to build and install the pavers.

The Slope

The slope is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you are considering how to build steps with pavers. You will need to make sure the pavers are well supported on the slope so that no one is at risk of falling and so that the pavers do not come apart.

Here are some steps to follow when building the steps on pavers:

  • Place a wooden stake at the highest point that the steps will reach. You should then put stakes at equal intervals all the way down the path.
  • Start by tying a string at the bottom of the highest stake and then tie it to the other ones as well. Make sure you are tying it securely but there is enough slack between the stakes so they do not pull or fall down.
  • Make sure to use a level to measure the string at the highest point and at each stake as you want the string to be level.
  • Once you’re sure it’s level, you can measure the length of the string from the first to the last stake.
  • You can also measure the distance from the ground to the lowest stake at the string.
  • Now you should have two measurement numbers. Divide the second measurement by the first measurement to get the slope.
  • If you are not doing the pavers DIY, you can give this measurement to the construction company so they know how many pavers and how much material is needed.
  • When you decide to start digging, you will want to carve out about 12 inches deeper than the lowest point of the step. If you excavate too much, you can always refill. If you do not excavate enough though, you might get stuck restarting the whole project since you will need to go back and remove more soil.

You can now follow the normal steps for making stairs with pavers.

Number of the Stairs Needed

Number of the Stairs Needed

Every home will need a different number of steps. Some will need more and some can get away with less depending on where you are putting the stairs. The size of the step also matters. Some people prefer their stairs to be further apart while others want them closer together. You might want to build them closer together if you have small children or pets that will be climbing them frequently.

The number of stairs you buy will affect how much material you need which will directly affect your budget. Knowing how many stairs are needed will ensure you have enough money to complete the project.

The Ground Surface

Where you are putting the stair pavers will determine how much work you have. Some ground is better suited for pavers than others. The good news is that you can prepare pretty much any type of ground for pavers. With properly prepared ground, you can set the pavers in and have them look beautiful.

Some things to be aware of when checking the ground surface are rocks, wet soil, gravel, and tree roots. Always check what is under your ground before you start to put pavers. It’s important to know what’s below the ground before you start the work with the pavers so you can better prepare yourself and the other people who might be helping you.

The more tree roots or rocks that are there, the more work you will have. If you do not remove all the things in the ground, you might also get stuck with bad pavers in the future. They will not as long as expected and you will find yourself with more and more work.

Proper ground prep is the most important thing when it comes to prepping for pavers.

Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is also one of the most important things when it comes to pavers. If you have poor drainage or no drainage, you will find yourself with tons of problems including many that will result in having to completely redo your pavers.

One of the most common issues you might have is sunken pavers. This happens when the base becomes so wet and the pavers begin to sink down because of the water. You might also express an overgrowth of mold and mildew without proper drainage.

In extreme cases, you might find water coming into the home or pooling on the foundation of your property. This can be very costly as you will have to pay high costs for structural damage. Leaking water can also cause damage to your landscaping if too much water gets under your garden bed.

It can cause your greenery to become completely flat and maybe even become so damaged that you have to redo the garden entirely.

As you can see, not taking the time to install proper drainage can cause extremely costly problems in the future.

Type of Pavers You Choose

Type of Pavers You Choose

There are many different types of pavers to choose from. You can choose ones based on many different things including your house material or color or your decorating style. You want any part of your home to match your style and the rest of the home so that it does not look misplaced.

The size of the space you are working with and the way you are going to use the space always matter. You also need to keep in mind the terrain and soil you are building on top of. Your budget also matters as some types of pavers are much more expensive than others.

One of the most common types of pavers is concrete. They come in many different colors, sizes, and shapes giving them the versatility that most homeowners need. They can be affected by the weather though so you need to consider this when choosing concrete.

Brick is another common choice. If you have a higher budget, you can choose marble pavers. This will add great value to your home if you are planning to resell it later. Some other common options are plastic, cobblestone, porcelain, rubber, and granite.

All have their pros and cons. If you aren’t sure which one is best for your terrain or style, you can go to a home store and check out some samples. You can also contact a local contractor and seek out some advice on what they would put if they were doing the project.

Planning Out the Project

Any time you are doing a home remodel project, you don’t want to start anything without first planning. Starting a project without planning can ruin your home or the outdoor area where you are putting the pavers.

Start by measuring everything and determining what materials you need. You can also take this time to consider what type of paver you want to use. Budget is another important thing you want to plan. Make sure you add up all the costs of materials and ensure it’s something you can afford right now before starting the project.

How to Build Steps with Pavers? (Step-by-Step)

Ready to build your steps? Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you.

1. Gather your materials. You will need a way to measure, a plate compactor, a hander tamper, and a cutoff saw with a diamond blade.

2. Lay out the location you want the path of the stairs to be. It’s easiest to use a garden hose for this step because you can move it around and curve it to the exact path you want the stairs to take. You also want to make sure you are making the path wide enough. The best way to do this is to ensure two people can walk side by side on the path.

3. Mark the lines for the path with spray paint. You can now plan for the retaining walls. This is important because you don’t want water to wash the soil away.

4. Excavate if needed. This involves digging where you are putting the blocks. This isn’t a must for every paver process though.

5. Once you have excavated, you are ready to set the stairs. You will need to set the first stair block on the path you have chosen. Even though it can be annoying, you need to make sure it’s completely level. You will spend more time leveling than actually laying the stairs.

6. Once you have the first base course set, tamp gravel around it. Now you can set the second course which will be the first row that is exposed.

7. Glue the second course of the steps directly over the face. Make sure they are flush with one another to make them look the most appealing. You might need to cut the corner blocks which you can use the diamond blade cutoff saw.

8. Make sure to tamp more gravel around the base. You can then level and lay the third course.

9. You should now be ready to build the path. Simply lay the pavers from one end to the other. You might need to cut the pavers at the beginning.

10. Make sure the pavers are snugly fit together. You should be able to lay the last section without cutting them since it borders the open path.

11. Sweep dry sand over the paver joints and tamp the pavers.

How Do You Build Curved Steps with Pavers?

How Do You Build Curved Steps with Pavers

Building curbed steps with pavers follows many of the same steps as above for when you are just making a regular path with pavers. You will need to mark and measure the curve just as you would mark a straight curve.

Make sure you measure the curve correctly and take extra care to level the pavers as this can be a little more difficult when the path is curved. You will also need to have border stones that may need to be cut to fit the curve more efficiently.

Can You Use Cinder Blocks for Steps Outdoors?

Yes, you can use cinder blocks for outdoor steps. It’s a common material to use for permanent and temporary steps. They are durable, but they can wear down over time especially if you live in an area with inclement weather.

What are the Best Pavers for Making Steps?

There are many different options for pavers when it comes to making steps. Some people choose to use concrete while others choose to use bricks. You can also use slate or marble if you have a higher budget. Keep in mind these materials are more fragile as well.

What are Some Cool Paver Stair Ideas?

To make your paver stairs unique, try some of these ideas.

  • Choose Huge Pavers per Single Step. Do this instead of using small blocks of bricks or concrete. This will make your paver stairs look different than all the other ones in the neighborhood.
  • Use Large Rocks as Paver Stairs. Instead of using materials, you need to buy from a home store, you can use large rocks to make a stepping path on your patio or to the front door.
  • Create Multi-Color Paver Stairs. If you have a colorful garden or home, making your paver stairs will go with the theme you already have going.
  • Paint Your Pavers! You can do this if you want the stairs to be all one color and match the outside of the home.

Paver Steps and Stairs Related Questions

Still, have a few questions? Here are some of the most asked questions and answers to help you out.

Do You Need to Excavate for Paver Stairs?

Do You Need to Excavate for Paver Stairs

All jobs are different, but a DIY job likely will not need any excavation. If you think your paver stairs might need excavation, it can be much harder to do it yourself unless you have extensive construction experience.

Exactly how much you will need to excavate also depends on what type of stone or bricks you’re using as well as the sand and gravel.

Even if you want to put the pavers in yourself, you might want to consider getting a professional to come in for the excavation process to tell you how much space you might need.

Can I Install Pavers on an Existing Staircase?

Yes, you can install pavers on top of an existing staircase. Many people choose to do this on concrete stairs because putting pavers on them makes them look more attractive. You will need mortar if you are going this route as mortar will keep the pavers in place.

If you do not put the pavers in place with mortar they can become loose and be very dangerous for yourself and your guests.

Can You Build Paver Steps into a Hill?

Yes, you can make paver steps onto a hill but it requires a few more steps and some more skill. You will need to set stakes at either end of the path where you want the paver steps to be. If the path has to be curved around landscaping, you also need to keep this in mind when making the path and putting in the stakes.

You will need to dig terraces and also cut and set risers. Always make sure the steps are secure and that they can bare weight as people will be walking up and down them.

Can You Build Paver Steps Against a House?

You can install paver steps against a house foundation. You will need to lay the pavers against the concrete of the foundation where it rises from the soil. This might not be a good option though if you also need to put pavers against siding or against vents as this can get costly and may not be safe for the home.

If you want to install pavers and see that it might involve going against siding or vents, consider contacting a professional contractor as doing some of these steps yourself might cause problems with the foundation of the home.

How Much Crushed Stone and Sand is Need for Paver Steps?

How Much Crushed Stone and Sand is Need for Paver Steps

When figuring out how much-crushed stone you need for your paver steps you will need to consider the amounts and thickness of the materials in the layers you are using for the steps. If you have worked in the construction or have someone helping you from this business, you know that the materials for paver steps are measured in cubic yards.

You will need to multiply the length, the width and the height of the area you are putting the steps in and then divide by 27 to get this measurement. Make sure you are measuring in feet and not inches to make the process much easier. 

If you get a fraction, it’s recommended that you round up. This way you will have a little extra which is much better than coming up short.

Are Paver Stairs More Affordable than Deck Stairs?

In most cases, paver stairs are more affordable than deck stairs. The exact cost though will depend on many different factors such as the quality of the materials you are using. The larger your area is where you are needing stairs, the more you will need to send whether you are using paver stairs or deck stairs.

Deck stairs are also made out of wood, so keep in mind they may not last as long as paver steps especially depending on the area you live. If you see a lot of rain or storms in your area, you will need to replace the wooden deck stairs more often since they are more susceptible to mold and water damage.

Are Paver Stairs More Affordable than Poured Concrete Stairs?

Paver stairs are usually more expensive than poured concrete stairs. For poured concrete stairs, you need fewer materials and less labor if you are hiring a professional to come in and do it for you. The upfront cost of pavers is almost always higher but it also offers greater value since they last longer and need less repair.

Concrete stairs might cost you more overall though if you are taking into account the maintenance you will have to do across the lifespan of the stairs. This is partly because they have the potential to crack when they encounter tree roots, freezing and thawing, and other common problems that might happen underground.

What to Do if My Paver Stairs are Falling Over?

If you’re paver stairs are falling over, you will need to fix them right away as they can cause injury to people who might walk on them or stand on them. You will also need to find the underlying problem as to why they are falling over.

For example, a common reason paver stairs fall over is that there is poor roof damage. This can cause the soil to begin to erode under the steps eventually destroying the stairs and causing them to fall over. You might notice this problem if you see water pooling at the top of the steps or if you see water seeping through the stairs onto the ground.

Always fix the issue of why the pavers are falling before putting in new pavers or you will just have the same issue again.

Once you find the issue, you can pry out the pavers. You can usually put a screwdriver down the edge of one paver and then wiggle it until it comes loose. You will need then need to clean and repair the base layer.

If you have any holes such as erosion, make sure to fill them back in with dirt. You can then add some crushed stone dust. Spread it evenly and make sure every part is covered before moving on to the next step.

You can now start to replace the pavers similar to how you did when you first put them down following the steps above in this guide. Make sure to sweep polymeric sand over them when you’re done. This can make the steps last longer and look healthier.

How Long Will a Paver Steps Last?

Technically, paver steps are meant to last forever but this doesn’t mean they always will. Since paver steps are made of stone, they are able to last without breaking completely. There is always a chance they will become chipped or cracked though if there is extreme force applied to them.

Under normal use and even heavy use though, they will often last for a very long time. Pavers made from stone often last longer than even concrete which is surprising to many people. Concrete walkways are more likely to become cracked and need more repairs.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide has all the details you need to make the perfect paver stairs for your home! It can be a tasking DIY project, but the final product is worth it.

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