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  • What tips and tricks are there to building steps?
  • can it still be accessible for equipment and the elderly?
  • how can I make it look like it has always been there?
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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is what I determined before I started. Good planning is essential!

  • kind of soil: compacted clay soil, suitable for laying flagstone on top with minimal base
  • measurements: taken three times. The height of the slope can be particularly difficult to determine accurately. I set up a long stick with markings and used a laser level
  • transition areas: had to join with two other pathways, a slope on one side, wall on the other and transition to a gate at the bottom
  • we get lots of rain spring and fall and lots of snow. Frost heave can be an issue.
  • I rented a 40 yard bin to dispose of the soil.
  • I wanted to be able to get bicycles, wheelbarrows, elderly people and skiers up and down the steps
  • four tons of limestone flagstone and ledge rock and two cubic yards of stone dust required. Gravel (five eighths with no fines) already on site.
  • Informal style matched the existing stonework
  • building code recommended a 7" rise and handrails only if there was a drop
  • I called for a utility locate before starting construction and determined that by keeping the grade close to existing level within three feet of the property line I would not be disturbing any utilities

Rough sketch of stone steps

After two hours work removing grass to the bin enter image description here

enter image description here

After 30 hours of work

enter image description here

As finished in 2011 enter image description here

and as it looks in 2014. The only maintenance was using some construction adhesive to glue stones to the risers after a bit of winter frost heave. enter image description here Edit: I had a base plan on pencil and paper but it did not survive being outside during the excavation. The ramp was to allow skiers to go up the grade during the winter. Small dogs like it too. Unfortunately there was no way to make it accessible by published standards as the slope was too steep. I would have to start the ramp at the door from the house to make the recommended slope of 1:20.

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Guessing a 5' drop over 35'? Lower risers (4") with wider treads will make easier accessibility to elderly. If there is room on the sides to lengthen the drop, side to side we could make this more interesting as well as accessible. But forget wheelchairs. The daylighted drain will need drainrock, versus soil or plants to dump on away from the treads, and the treads should be absolutely flat. Any deviation from level will cause accidents. Water should drain from flat surfaces but treads are small. Whatever you chose ALL of the risers/treads should be the same. –  stormy Jun 10 at 0:09

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