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Consider skipping the DIY.
Time to complete
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:
Garden hose with sprayer
Table saw (optional)
Electric drill with screwdriver bit
Grinder with metal cutting blade
Mason line or string
Four wooden or metal stakes
Wood or titanium concrete float
Concrete corner edging trowel
Rubber sponge float
Concrete mix (20 pounds of concrete mix per 0.15 cubic feet)
Compactable gravel mix or concrete debris
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 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.
Layout the Steps
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.
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.
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.
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.
Create a Solid Base
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.
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.
Check your outline for square by measuring from each corner to its opposite corner and ensuring the measurements are equal.
Remove the soil in the outline plus a couple of inches in each direction to a depth of four to six inches.
Fill the void with compactable gravel or sand and tamp with a hand tamper.
Cut the Forms
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.
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.
With a circular saw, cut out the side form shape from the plywood.
For each riser, cut a 2-inch by 8-inch board to 1.5 inches longer than the width of your staircase.
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.
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.
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.
Attach the other end of the riser to the other plywood side form.
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.
Continue with subsequent risers until complete.
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.
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.
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.
If you have rubble from the demolition of the old stairs, mix it with compactable soil and use it as fill.
Place the fill and tamp often. Allow at least four inches of clearance from any form board.