Your DIY Guide to Building Concrete Steps

Step up your home’s curb appeal

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Reviewed by Matt DiBara
Updated August 3, 2022
Brick house with new concrete steps and walkway
Photo: PC Photography / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


Consider skipping the DIY.

Time to complete

8 hours

6–8 hours, plus a few additional days for curing



Consider letting a pro with all the equipment handle this one

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What you'll need:


  • Measuring tape
  • Spade shovel
  • Hand tamper
  • Concrete mixer
  • Garden hose with sprayer
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw (optional)
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Electric drill with screwdriver bit
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Grinder with metal cutting blade
  • Mason line or string
  • Four wooden or metal stakes
  • Wood or titanium concrete float
  • Concrete corner edging trowel
  • Concrete trowel
  • Rubber sponge float
  • Stiff-bristled brush


  • Concrete mix (20 pounds of concrete mix per 0.15 cubic feet)
  • Compactable gravel mix or concrete debris
  • Compactable soil
  • Two pieces of 3/4-inch plywood
  • 2-inch by 8-inch lumber
  • 2-inch by 4-inch lumber
  • 2-inch by 2-inch lumber for staking
  • Rebar
  • Rebar loop ties
  • 2-inch wood screws
  • 2.5-inch wood screws
  • Concrete release agent spray
  • 4mil to 6mil plastic sheet (optional)
  • Concrete curing compound (optional)

Concrete steps add long-lasting character to your home entryway. They don’t last forever, though. Weather, constant use, and ice-melting solutions can chip away at concrete’s surface and lead to crumbling. In many cases, it’s possible to repair concrete steps. Sometimes, however, the best action is to build new ones.

Building concrete steps is a big job, but it’s within reach of accomplished DIYers with a weekend to spare and some specialty tools. Follow along to learn how to build a simple set of concrete steps. 

Prepare to Build Concrete Steps

Before proceeding, check with your city’s building permit department to determine if you need a building permit. It’s essential to get one if your city or town requires it and understand the building code that applies to your project. 

With a permit in hand, you can demolish and remove the old steps if that applies. Depending on the building code in your area, you made need to replace or install new flashing or other house protection before building new steps. You may have to anchor the news steps to the home’s foundation in some locales. Local codes for stairs vary by geographic location, so it’s best to contact your local building and safety department for compliance requirements.

10 Steps to Build Concrete Steps

Here are the 10 essential steps to building concrete steps yourself.

  1. Layout the Steps

    Carpenter measuring a plywood sheet before cutting
    Photo: andrey gonchar / Adobe Stock

    The first thing you need is a plan. The rise and run of a staircase are the height and distance measurements.  

    1. Determine the rise or overall height of the steps in inches. Divide that number by the number of risers in your staircase, which will tell you the height of each riser. By most codes, this dimension must be less than 7.75 inches. 

    2. Determine the run or overall distance the steps will cover. The top step or landing must be at least 36 inches deep by 36 inches wide. Each step must measure at least 11 inches deep for stairs without a nosing. 

    3. Draw these dimensions on a 3/4-inch piece of plywood. You’ll use the plywood as one side of the steps and landing form.

  2. Create a Solid Base

    Leveling ground before pouring concrete
    Photo: electra kay-smith / Adobe Stock

    To ensure that your new steps stay level and aren’t prone to cracking due to ground movement, you’ll need to create a firm base for them.

    1. Using your staircase's depth and width measurements, stake out and mark with a mason’s line an outline of its footprint where it will rest on the ground. 

    2. Check your outline for square by measuring from each corner to its opposite corner and ensuring the measurements are equal. 

    3. Remove the soil in the outline plus a couple of inches in each direction to a depth of four to six inches. 

    4. Fill the void with compactable gravel or sand and tamp with a hand tamper.

  3. Cut the Forms

    Carpenter using a circular saw to cut a plywood sheet
    Photo: Melinda Fawver / Adobe Stock

    Much concrete work requires excellent carpentry skills. Work slowly and carefully when cutting your forms. Any mistakes in this step will show up in the poured concrete when it’s more difficult to fix. 

    1. Sandwich the second piece of 3/4-inch plywood to the first with your template drawing facing up. Attach the pieces together with a few temporary wood screws.

    2. With a circular saw, cut out the side form shape from the plywood.

    3. For each riser, cut a 2-inch by 8-inch board to 1.5 inches longer than the width of your staircase. 

    4. With a circular saw or table saw, rip each riser to the individual riser height from step one. It’s helpful to rip the boards with a 45-degree blade angle, but it’s unnecessary. Leave one riser without a 45-degree angle cut.

  4. Build the Forms

    Concrete is heavy and will distort forms that aren’t secure. Be sure that your forms are well-anchored when this step is complete.

    1. Stand on plywood side form up on its bottom edge. With 2.5-inch screws, attach the end of the riser without a 45-degree angle to the edge of the plywood. 

    2. Attach the other end of the riser to the other plywood side form.

    3. Attach the second riser to the next riser position in the form with 2.5-inch screws. Place the rise with the 45-degree angle facing down and out.

    4. Continue with subsequent risers until complete.

    5. Check and ensure that the side form plywood pieces are plumb and level. Install three 2-inch by 2-inch stakes along the bottom of each form. Attach each stake to the form with 2-inch screws.  

    6. Drive two 2 x 2 stakes into the ground on all three sides of the steps (you may need more for the front side). Create support abutments between each stake and the form using 2-inch by 2-inch boards. Securely attach the boards to the stakes and the form.

  5. Add Soil or Rubble Fill

    For staircases taller than a single riser, you can use compactable soil or rubble to partially fill the void between the ground and the concrete within the forms. 

    1. If you have rubble from the demolition of the old stairs, mix it with compactable soil and use it as fill. 

    2. Place the fill and tamp often. Allow at least four inches of clearance from any form board.

  6. Place Rebar

    Rebar inside steps formwork
    Photo: Lomiso / Adobe Stock

    Rebar reinforces your concrete work for a long lifespan

    1. Cut rebar to length with a grinder and metal cutting blade.

    2. Install a 12-inch by 12-inch framework of rebar inside the form. 

    3. Tie each intersection together with rebar ties by twisting the ties with pliers.

    4. Allow at least two inches between any piece of rebar and the form lumber.

  7. Pour the Concrete

    Pouring fresh concrete inside steps formwork
    Photo: photovs / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    For this step, you’ll need to either rent a cement mixer from a home center, or have mixed concrete delivered. 

    1. Calculate the amount of concrete you’ll need to mix or purchase. You’ll need 20 pounds of concrete mix per 0.15 cubic feet of stair volume, according to HomeAdvisor’s concrete calculator.

    2. Spray the inside surface of the forms with a concrete release agent. 

    3. Mix and pour concrete into the form. 

    4. Tap the sides and front of the forms with a hammer to reduce voids as you pour the concrete. The more hammering, the better.

  8. Trowel the Concrete

    Worker finishing concrete with a trowel
    Photo: simazoran / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    Now to make them look like steps. 

    1. Screed and float the concrete, starting with the top landing to make it level. 

    2. Create smooth corners with the edging trowel. 

    3. Trowel the landing and steps until smooth. 

    4. Allow the concrete to rest for several minutes until there’s no water on the surface. Then brush the concrete to create a rough surface for foot traction.

  9. Remove the Forms

    Allow your steps to sit untouched for several hours until you can no longer press your hand into the surface before removing forms.

    1. Unscrew and remove the riser forms from the side forms

    2. You may need to mix a small amount of concrete to fill any voids left behind. 

    3. Trowel smooth with a rubber float and brush in some texture if you like. 

    4. Remove the side forms and stakes. Trowel and add texture as you like.

  10. Cure the Concrete Steps

    Proper curing is essential to avoid cracks in fresh concrete. Use one of the following methods to slow down evaporation so your concrete can cure correctly. 

    1. Beginning several hours after pouring, spray the entire surface eight to ten times per day with garden hose water to keep the surface damp. 

    2. Apply concrete curing compound spray, following the manufacturer's instructions.

    3. Cover the entire project with a 4-ml or thicker plastic sheet.

Building Concrete Steps Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro

We only recommend pouring concrete steps if you have solid DIY skills and experience. The job requires using specific tools that may prove too expensive if you’ll only use them for this project. 

The cost of supplies for installing concrete steps on your own is between $350 and $550, one weekend, and tool rental or purchase cost. The cost of professional concrete step installation starts at around $900. A concrete company near you can also provide design ideas and a workmanship warranty. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.