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Covering aging concrete steps

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  • Covering aging concrete steps

    When we moved into our first home just two months ago, the concrete steps leading up the the front door looked immaculate. The home is approximately 75 years old and there is no reason to believe the steps are any younger. The previous owner had patched the steps and had them painted. Now, the quality of the patch job is unfortunately becoming apparent. At first I noticed some small hairline cracks in the otherwise flawless surface and now, those cracks are turning into chips and chunks. Tapping on the surface reveals some sections that sound almost hollow and others that sound rather solid.

    We would like to cover the steps in fieldstone. Other homes in the neighborhood have had this work done and it looks spectacular. It seems like it would be a great solution to this problem.

    If it would help, I have some photos I can post tonight when I get home.

    Is this a potential DIY project? I am really enjoying getting my hands dirty with the new home and learning new skills. Is this something that might be manageable for a first timer?

    I have a couple of hopefully quick questions...

    1) How would I go about prepping the steps? I have read that I will need to remove the paint, is that really necessary? If so, what are some suggestions for doing so?

    2) How do I handle the cracks, chips and chunks? Is it necessary for me to repair the steps first or can I simply use the fieldstone to repair it? Is there anything I need to look out for?

    3) What type of adhesive should I use?

    4) Are there different types of field stone? How thick should it be for this application?

    5) What type of saw works best for cutting this material?

    6) Any tips, tricks, suggestions for making this project go smoothly?


  • #2
    Re: Covering aging concrete steps

    If you don't know enough about this process I would get someone who does this for a living. It sounds like the HO you bought from did this and didn't do it right. It is not easy to do this if you are not used to using tools and working with concrete.

    Here is a good site for doing repairs the right way so look it over and then decide if it is something you can or would like to try.

    You may also look into just replacing the steps so you won't have to worry about this happening again. I see you live in DC so the freezing and thawing can have a bad effect on patched concrete.

    Good luck on what ever you decide and let us know how it turns out and also welcome to the forum.



    • #3
      Re: Covering aging concrete steps


      I appreciate the advice. I definitely think I will be doing this job myself. I appreciate that this sort of work isn't necessarily easy, but everyone has to learn sometime, right?

      Also, just as an aside, there does not appear to be any structural damages to the stairs. Indeed, of the 7 stairs, two landings and full front porch, only 2 of the stairs have any real damage (mostly along the edges where it appears time, not weather has taken its toll), so I can't imagine replacing all that cement work. We happen to like the look of the fieldstone, so it is more than just to repair the problem. Perhaps I shouldn't have focused so much on the cracking, I just wanted to make sure I mentioned it in case it changes the approach.

      I will definitely be checking out the website you recommended but would appreciate any additional advice the community might have. So, the better question is...

      How does one go about covering painted, chipped cement steps with fieldstone.

      Last edited by stubits; 07-21-2008, 02:22 PM.


      • #4
        Re: Covering aging concrete steps

        When you add thickness to your steps, you also need to raise the ground in front of the steps at the same height. Also the top step, may become higher then your threshold, which will be against codes. Do place your photos in here.

        Taking paint off, you can try chemicals, but I would sand blast, this helps rough up the cement, which you'll need a poures surface for any bonding. What your planning on doing, is not a typical DIYer job. Your project has a high probability for a failure. Theres to much to say about this project, to ensure a bonding job that won't fail.

        Maybe someone else wouldn't mind typing a lot, so place those photo's in here and we'll see....

        You will need a diamond blade wet saw for your project. You will be doing a lot of cutting and free hand cutting at that, which is dangerous. The link under this, is the type you'll need....
        Great Link for a Construction Owner/Tradesmen, and just say Garager sent you....

        A good climbing rope will last you 3 to 5 years, a bad climbing rope will last you a life time !!!


        • #5
          Re: Covering aging concrete steps

          [quote=stubits;159372]Any tips, tricks, suggestions for making this project go smoothly?

          I used flagstone for my 6x9 concrete step and one suggestion I can share is they were available in various sizes. I drew up a plan on graph paper and tried various patterns to eliminate cutting. I also used matching thinner stone veneers on the side of the step. Have the HEAVY stone delivered or use a pickup truck. Garager brings up great points on code issues and the possible need for another step.


          • #6
            Re: Covering aging concrete steps

            Look into a concrete overlay with a stamped texture of your choosing.

            With the new technology these day you can have a cement/epoxy type coating poured over the entire thing (it is very thin and durable) and have it stamped with a fieldstone texture mat and died any color or colors you would like.

            Google stamped concrete image search and you will see a lot of info.


            • #7
              Re: Covering aging concrete steps

              Welcome to the forum,
              I have to agree with Shup and the Garage Man here on their advice. Hire somebody. You're getting into an area with a lot of variables and some tooling you don't have. I admire your desire to get your hands dirty and try fixing stuff, but this isn't a beginner job. As was said, sandblasting is best, but chipping with a BP hammer and cold chisel would also take off the loose stuff. 4.5 inch angle grinder with a concrete grind stone will help too. Then you've got bonding agent to look at, right temp and humidity, epoxe coat or latex overlay, stamping, etc. Not to mention the code issues with the right height (and yes inspectors are real p!ss ants about that, I've seen steps rejected for being 1/16 off the others) and all. Call in a pro, pay the freight, watch him work and get on your knees and thank God that you asked for advice before tackling this yourself first time out. Good luck, and let us know what you decide and how it turns out. Not trying to be negative, just a heads up that this is something best left to those who do it for a living.
              Jim Don (Keep posting and asking questions, lot of good, knowledgeable people on here you'll find.)


              • #8
                Re: Covering aging concrete steps

                On the other hand...
                This job has no plumbing, this job has no electricity.
                As long as you have a functioning second entrance to your home, this is a good project to get in over your head. If you're comfortable with the fact that you may have to do this project twice because there are many places a DIYer could go wrong, then I say go for it.
                Step one - go to your permit office with a pic of your steps and ask what are the min/max measurements for step riser height and tread depth.
                Step two - go to a tool rental place and say, "I need a grinder to remove old paint from concrete." And wear a good respirator and ear plugs.
                Step three - post pics of your progress and we'll help you with each step.
                And remember, for every one expert on this sight that gives you an "I told you so." when you screw up, there are fifty homeowners reading the post that are jealous because they don't have the ambition to try to learn something the hard way like you do.


                • #9
                  Re: Covering aging concrete steps

                  Originally posted by jrsaltz View Post
                  Look into a concrete overlay with a stamped texture of your choosing.

                  With the new technology these day you can have a cement/epoxy type coating poured over the entire thing (it is very thin and durable) and have it stamped with a fieldstone texture mat and died any color or colors you would like.

                  Google stamped concrete image search and you will see a lot of info.

                  This above is the best application and best longevity for durability.

                  The application you are going to attempt will have loose stones over time, you'll have to make sure your risers are set to code specs and you're talking inches, not fractions of an inch.

                  Somebody trips and falls at your house and the risers aren't correctly sized, you're liable.
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